High Notes, Vol 21 No 31, September 25 2020

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From the Principal

High Talent

Congratulations to our first and second grade volleyball teams! Both were GPS champions after a strong season of wins. Our Foil teams claimed Silver Medals in both the Intermediate and Senior divisions of the NSWFA School Age Program – Foil Team Competition. Our first XV had its first win in a while this week - 12-10 over Shore 3rd XV. Well done to the boys for breaking the drought…and to coaches George Barris and Steve Comninos. Congratulations to the teams and their coaches John Tian (SHS-2017), Sean Morota Chu (SGS-2018) and Marcus Nguyen (SHS-2019). In this year’s International Mathematics Modelling Competition, our team of Blair Zong (11E), Ryan Lee (11E), Arnav Bansal (11F) and Saksham Bhatia (11R), earned an Honourable Mention. Our Year 10 team of Martin Lee (10E), Duy Ngo (10E), Rayne Fangwu (10E) and Chen Zhang (10E), were National Finalists. Congratulations to our students and to Mr Wang, their Mentor.

Farewell Year 12 Farewell Assembly

"Good afternoon Year 12, students, staff and parents via live stream. Welcome to our Farewell Assembly for the Class of 2020. We have had to improvise in this pandemic year in order to retain some of the customary end of Year 12 celebration activities and still maintain social distancing and time restrictions. The Sydney High School Old Boys Union Life Membership certificates were presented earlier today to 83 students, demonstrating the growing relevance of the Union to students’ lives while here, at university and in employment searches.

"One hundred and sixty-eight students completed six years at High. The cohort of 2020 will be a unique group of pandemic sufferers in this century as the 1920 cohort was in the last. I tried to capture some of the qualities of character and dispositions they showed in my Principal’s Message printed in the Year 12 Farewell Booklet, along with some notable results by Year 12 students. This week our volleyball teams won GPS Championships in first and second grade.

"I want to thank publicly the senior leadership group for their support. Alex, Angus and Alan faced a totally unique leadership challenge – how to inspire 213 students, not on site. I was proud of the way they rose to the occasion with online activities to preserve morale and build companionship. Our Prefects stepped up and upheld their oaths of office. Thank you to all of our departing student leaders – SRC, Community Service, PAWS, Equality, Social Justice – their volunteers and committees.

"I want to recognise and thank the three scholar-sportsmen who competed in two seasons of GPS Saturday sport and earned 99.5 ATAR or higher in the Trial HSC. Well done to the five students who competed in three sports in their final year (2019-13, 2018-13).  I want to thank the 38 Year 12 boys (2019-77, 2018-95) who showed such great pride in their school and represented High in at least two sports in their last year at school. Another 53 played one sport (2019-63, 2018-63). In this COVID-19 year, 42% of the cohort showed their commitment to our ethos right to the end (2019-73%, 2018-75%). Four students competed in three GPS sports for six years (2019-4). Thirty-eight students played two GPS sports for six years (2019-38) and sixty-nine (2019-69), one sport for six years. These statistics affirm that even in their most demanding and stressful year at school, our students valued participation in school sport. I honour them all for it.

"Congratulations to the most committed Year 12 students who represented the school at the highest levels in multiple GPS sports in 2020.There were 34 boys from Year 12 (2019–29, 2018-24, 2017-17) who competed in GPS first or second grade in two seasons of sport this year. Our ‘Triple Firsts’ this year were Steven Meng and Titus Zhao. Our ‘Double Firsts’ competitors were Ethan Cusick, Felix Cao, Khobi Deep, Lawrence D’Mello, Kent Gu, Angus Henningham, Daniel Im, Alan Ji, Jarrod Khaw, Tom Liu, Kelvin Meng, Nicholas Palmer, Mitchel Sawyer, Jonathan Tran, Jordan Whittaker, Edward Yoon, Khalil Youssef and Alex Zhou. Our ‘One-Two Club’ comprised Charles Clay, Vincent Dorahy, Kazi Hasan, Alan Jessup, Ben Kernohan, Vincent Le, Aleksei Maksymow, Suvipra Vaidya and Joshua Zhao. You all embody the ethos of our school as scholar-sportsmen, thank you.

"I wish you all the best in your HSC preparations and in the examinations that follow and expect that you will be successful in gaining entry to your chosen tertiary options – it might be a very good year to be applying for a university course. It has been an honour and my profound pleasure to serve as your Principal."

Principal’s Farewell Message

The 2020 graduating class will be a special one in many ways.  First, it is one hundred years since a graduating class at High has been affected so badly by a pandemic.  High was closed in 1919 for the first few months having been requisitioned to serve as a hospital until April.  The Spanish Flu kept up to 40% of the students and teachers away from school at the peak of the second wave in June and July 1920.

The COVID-19 experience of 2020 has been a long one.  Returning students in late January were asked to self-isolate if they had been holidaying in China.  The reasonably routine term one was followed by a term of disruption, with face-to-face lessons not recommencing until May. In the April-May lockdown, it appeared most students were able to adapt to on-line learning and coped well with the anxiety of uncertainty and learning to be at home while maintaining a full school timetable of lessons.  You applied yourselves in a character-testing time with conscientious collaboration and cheerfulness.

Many of the co-curricular activities, school events, competitions, assemblies and meetings that make up the familiar fabric of students’ final year at High, have either not happened or have been in a form mediated by social distancing or technology. Many knockout competitions were cancelled outright or postponed. All year-long activities were disrupted or delayed or cancelled. In many ways a High ‘rite of passage’ in your final year has been denied to you, for which I commiserate with you all. I have been impressed by the cheerful resilience that I have encountered among staff and students.  You Year 12 lads have shown great resilience and initiative while trying to kindle the fire of school spirit in trying circumstances. 

There were notable accomplishments by Year 12 students in this limited year.  Kieran Guan (12R) represented Australia in short track speed ice skating.  Kent Gu (12F) Weixuan Li (12E) and Oliver Yang (12T) were selected in the Sydney East regional volleyball team and Oliver went on to represent at CHS level. The combined GPS ‘Merit’ team for basketball included Kwabena Brefo (12M), Adam Gordon (12T) and Eoin Fitz-Gerald (12R). Eoin was selected in the U18 Metropolitan East team. 

During this year to date and in the months ahead in this pandemic driven environment, you will be required to show your strength of character in order to reach your potential at the HSC and beyond.  You have shown that you have the confidence to be confronted by the disruption of self-isolation and on-line learning.  During these anxious and distracting months, you have needed the self-assuredness to know what is important to you and to act upon it.  You need a faith in the logic of doing the right thing in our community-driven health crisis, even at the expense of your own personal comfort or convenience.  I trust that the indomitable ‘High’ spirit needed for the challenges ahead carries you through Year 12 and beyond.  So long.  Stay safe and strong.
Dr K A Jaggar

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