High Notes, Vol 21 No 4, February 21 2020

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From the Principal

High Talent

Eoin Fitz-Gerald was selected in the U18 Metropolitan Basketball Team to play in the Australian Junior Basketball Championships. Congratulations, Eoin!

The School Plan 2020

We are in the last year of our 3-year School Plan. With ‘engagement and meaning’ we continue to increase skills-based activities written into teaching programs, using thinking routines and framing knowledge acquisition in contestable and problematic schema. The Feedback Team is gathering data to inform our efforts to vary and make more impactful, the feedback environment in our classrooms. We have made available opportunities for students to engage in social justice issues and to relate what they do at school to society as a whole. We are trying to develop emotional and cultural intelligences more directly. We are also keen to lift engagement by having more students take two GPS sports. We have a goal to ‘light up literacy’. We have taken some additional initiatives, such as competency testing and small group literacy capacity building through ‘Wordflyers’. There remains the vital need to improve student voice and the sophistication, maturity and accuracy of their writing, particularly creative and reflective writing. Online feedback through CANVAS offers possibilities in capacity building. Our third direction is in the development of ‘skills for life’. We are embedding the direct instruction of PEWCC skills into our teaching and learning programs, so far in Years 7, 8 & 9. We are reporting on the stage of progression in selected skills for each student in each subject in each semester report. Some activities are linking thinking routines and PEWCC skills with tailored assessment tasks. We deployed a variety of in-class grouping strategies – think-pair-share, fishbowl, group puzzle and the jigsaw activity – alongside task-based small group investigation, discussion and reporting. We want to improve our capabilities in communicating and working with others We have increased the number of autonomous, independent online learning opportunities for students.

Early Bird Discounts on financial contributions

There are only seven days remaining for parents to take advantage of the early bird discounts on our contributions package. 28 February is the last day to receive the benefit. With the maximum contribution you get the value of one year of equivalent private school education for your son for about one-twelfth of the price. Please support the school in its goal to provide opportunity for your sons to pursue excellence in a wide range of endeavours.

Presentation Night 2019

Our special guest, David Greatorex AO, spoke in his address about the character-building nature of experiencing adversities of various kinds. The opposites of such adversities are thereby understood better. My speech is reprinted below:

"Special guest David Greatorex AO, Dr Sylvia Corish, Executive Director, Public Schools NSW, Mr Richard Skinner, Director Port Jackson Network, Dr Geoff Waring (President  SBHS P & C), Professor Ron Trent (President SBHS School Council) and Dr Pit Trent, Mr Paul Harapin (President of the Sydney High Old Boys Union), Mr Peter Porteous (Sir Roden & Lady Cutler Foundation), Wing Commander Herman, Wong, Life Governors Phil Lambert and Dennis Briggs, Dr Maria Ishkova – University of Sydney, guest presenters, special guests, Old Boys, staff, parents and prize winners – thank you all for joining us this evening.

"The biggest accomplishment for the school in 2019 was to commence construction of the long-awaited Governors Centre. Let us hope that when it is finished and ready for use on the first day of term, 2021, our community will see it as the Sydney community saw the completed Opera House – it was such an icon that the cost and delay seemed immaterial. I salute the communities of SBHS and SGHS for their financial generosity, persistence, resilience and collaboration, to provide a joint facility for two quite different cultures.

"The interior of the school, including the Great Hall, was painted by DoE over the long break for the first time in >20 years! We spent substantial school funds connecting new 3-phase power to Killip Wing. Much of the existing wiring dated back to 1963. Our ICT-AV upgrade for learning spaces project is well under way with 11 rooms fitted with double whiteboards and smart interactive projectors. We have made a commitment to transition to the CANVAS learning management system in 2020-21. Significant resources will be allocated to this project. Our IT team manages the software and Mr Brett Jackson is our Pedagogical skills Leader, to interface with the Leaders among the teaching staff to bed down the platform in 2020-21.

"Replacing the four backboards and shot clocks in the UTS gym with state-of-the-art armoured glass ones, was another big financial undertaking, wonderfully managed by our stalwart basketball volunteer, Bruce Gordon. Our Old Boys, led by Bruce Corlett AM and Ron Schwartz, have been very generous in their support for students in necessitous circumstances. This year substantial bursaries will lighten the financial burden for 23 families. In an extraordinary and unprecedented year, High parents, Old Boys and friends donated in excess of $1.3m to our various activities. Thank you all so much for your investment in public education.

"The HSC results for 2019 were an improvement on 2018. The ATAR average for 2019 was 92.78 calculated for 212 candidates. Two maximum ATARs were earned. 43 candidates were ranked at 99 or above; 80 students earned ATARs between 95 and 98.95; 163 overall scored 90 or above. Forty-four students who enrolled after Year 7 by means of our local selection scheme, averaged 91.4 ATAR. The 168 who enrolled in Year 7 earned a mean ATAR of 93.1. The HSC results were weakened by 10.85% of students earning an ATAR below 80.

"In Mathematics Advanced, Joseph Shao (11M) placed first in the state. State ranks were earned by Jadon Yang in physics and chemistry; in modern history, by Melvin Chan, in Software Design and Development, by Eric Holmstrom and Dawei Wu, in chemistry by Anirudh Joshi, in Mathematics Extension 2, by Francis Nguyen and in Studies of Religion 2 -unit, by Son Nguyen and Adam Simic. Yung Kim (12T) was invited to perform at Encore, and Kent Gu (SHS-2019) invited for composition. Dennis Cho, Ben Kernohan (11S) and Jordan Whittaker (11F) had their DT projects nominated for possible inclusion in SHAPE.

"In sport, volleyball was highly successful. High teams won the U17 National Championships, the CHS Open Knockout competition and the first and second grade GPS competitions. Target Rifle Shooting won the All-Schools competition and both first and second grade GPS premierships. The Open basketball team placed fourth at the National Schools Basketball Competition. Our open table tennis team won the CHS Knockout Competition for the fifth consecutive year. Our tennis team won the Stan Jones Cup for the third time as champions of CHS tennis. They finished 6th in the Australian Schools Tennis championships played on grass. High won the Kippax Cup for the highest achieving boys’ school in athletics at CHS level. Our open cricket team qualified for the finals round of the Davidson Shield CHS Knockout competition. High dominated CHS Rowing with eight gold medals. Our chess team placed third at the National schools Chess competition, won the GPS competition and the NSW Junior Chess League competition – Senior Division. They claimed the Terrey Shaw Shield for High for the first time since 1996.

"There were many students who grasped their opportunities and strove for excellence. Some of their individual achievements at state and combined associations level are printed on the last page in your programs. Kieran Guan represented Australia at the World Youth Olympics in speed skating. Alex Yeung was selected into the Australian Junior Table tennis team. Lachlan Ho, Ethan Kwan, Adrian Leong and Matthew Pellen represented Australia at the Oceania Cadet Youth Fencing Championships. Ben Kernohan and Etkin Tetik represented Australia in the International RoboCup Competition in Open Rescue.

"Tonight, we bid farewell to the Class of 2019 for the final time. I leave you with a plea to live your post school lives to the full and to develop and use your talents for the betterment of our society. Those who take the chance, make the commitment, and go for it, are likely to face great difficulties, but be more fulfilled. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was an American poet who spent her intellectual life in original contemplation and abundant composition, but her physical life as a recluse. She frequently used the metaphor of ships and harbours as people.  In ‘Ventures’, she wrote: ‘Finite to fail, but infinite to venture/ For the one ship that struts the shore/ Many’s the overwhelmed creature/ Nodding in navies nevermore.’ She sees the ship in port ‘strutting’ to impress at the wharf, while those at sea on demanding, even overwhelming voyages, will never ever be closeted in the company of ships in service, ‘nodding’ at anchor as the swell and tide moves them, unused but capable.  She contrasts their sleepy, controlled, stationary existence, to that of the ‘overwhelmed creatures’ who venture and strive continuously.

"You have all developed ‘a very particular set of skills’, as Liam Neeson might say. Well, at least individual ones. Your opportunities to employ them are ‘infinite’. Please don’t be hesitant in using your characters to venture into new experiences, even if occasional failures and hardships befall you. Those who stay the course gain the reward. I am inspired by your energy and humbled by your potential. It was an honour to serve you as your principal."
Dr K A Jaggar

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