High Notes, Vol 22 No 11, April 30 2021

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From the Principal

High Talent

Congratulations to Kenny Chen (9F) who achieved a perfect score in the National Latin Examination – a competition in the USA with around 100,000 participants worldwide. This is a rare and impressive achievement.

Science Demountable Project

On the last day of last term, we were informed of our success in attracting funding for our science lab demountable project. The idea is to have a laboratory for senior science students positioned adjacent to Killip Wing near the Cutler Gates. Science courses need practical demonstrations and experiments. In our school in Year 11 there are 15 science classes and in Year 12, 12 classes. We only have seven laboratories. An extra laboratory for senior classes will materially affect the possible exposure of senior school students to laboratory experiences. Our contribution to the project, to be managed by School Infrastructure NSW is $200k. The cost of the project may exceed $350,000. Funding this project will be the primary focus of our tax time appeal for May and June. Make your tax-deductible contribution before June 30 to www.shsfoundation.org.au

Caught Doing the Right Thing

I was pleased to receive the following email from a commuter this week. “This morning I travelled on the Sydney Metro. It was standing room only. I'm a 59-year-old, reasonably fit male, yet one of your boy students immediately stood up and offered me his seat. I was taken aback. I told him I was fine and thanked him for his courtesy. I don't know his name, but he appeared to be a Year 7 boy from the Hills area. I wanted to send this as a note of commendation for your school and the boy's parents. If you can identify him please pass on my compliments, if not, congratulations on raising the right kind of people”. To the student concerned, well done! Your behaviour on public transport was exemplary. It should inspire others to do the right thing when no one from the school is watching.

ANZAC Day Assembly

Last Friday we held our annual ANZAC Day assembly. My speech is reprinted below:

"Distinguished guests Colonel Warwick Young OAM – NSW Australian Army Cadets, Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Frank Brown, Vice-President Maroubra RSL Sub-Branch, John Unicomb Vice-President Paddington-Woollahra RSL Sub-Branch, Old Boys – Commander Andrew Dale RFD RANR, Captain Andrew Pham, Ian Devereux, John Frith, Viv Littlewood and Alf Tremain - staff and students - welcome to our Anzac Day Assembly.

"It is timely this year that we can hold our assembly so close to the actual Anzac Day on April 25th to be able to commemorate our important national day. This year will mark the end of the so-called ‘longest war’ in Afghanistan. We need to honour the sacrifice of 41 deaths in combat among our service personnel during this conflict. More disturbingly, more than 400 veterans have died by suicide since the war began, while trying to re-integrate into civilian life. We hope the Royal Commission will lead to more effective support practices for veterans on their return home from active service in the future. On this occasion, I like to draw the attention of the School to some of the current theatres in which our service personnel are engaged. There are 600 assigned to Operation Accordion in the Middle East. They provide communications and command and control functions in support of our personnel in Operation Okra (110 in Middle East and Iraq) and Operation Highroad in Afghanistan, 80). On Anzac Day we extend our thanks and appreciation to service personnel deployed overseas, away from their families, who help keep Australia safe by assisting with regional and international peacekeeping efforts. Australia has been involved in many wars, but since the end of World War 2 our total deaths in war, in Vietnam, Korea, the Gulf War and Afghanistan – were less than on a single day in October 1917 at Broodseinde Ridge during the Third Battle for Ypres, when 1,279 Australian lives were lost.

"Anzac Day is a time for us to remember those who served across the generations and in the many theatres of conflict. We acknowledge them and thank them for their service as we honour those who made the supreme sacrifice in dying for their country. This morning I am going to revisit the Pacific War when Australia was threatened very directly and seriously by the Japanese air force, navy and army. After the Battle of Midway in June 1942, the American commanders started to plan an offensive against Japan.  The question was via which route – the north Pacific with Admiral Nimitz and the navy ‘atoll hopping’ or the south west Pacific with General Macarthur and the army, ‘island hopping’.  The compromise decision was to take the southern route but to divide it into zones.  The navy was given Guadalcanal Island to take.

"The Japanese saw Guadalcanal as the southern anchor of their defensive line of islands and resolved to defend it.  They sent reinforcements as soon as the US marines had made a successful landing on the island on August 7.  There were five naval battles fought in the campaign to deny supply to the Japanese defenders or American attackers on Guadalcanal.  Fighting was bloody and at close quarters.  It wasn’t until February 1943 that Japanese resistance on the island ceased.

"Meanwhile, since July 1942 the Japanese had been pushing forward in New Guinea towards Port Moresby from the north, having had their southern invasion force turned back at the Battle of the Coral Sea, in May.  Despite winning that battle in a technical assets lost or destroyed sense, the Japanese were left with insufficient aeroplanes to support an invasion of Port Moresby.

"The Japanese invasion from the north was stopped by the second Australian Imperial Force in the Owen Stanley Ranges.  The Japanese retreated to their landing bases at Buna and Gona.  The Australian offensive back along the Kokoda Trail proved very difficult and deadly as the terrain favoured defenders, even while retreating.  In some of the most savage fighting of the war both Gona and Buna were captured by a US-Australian force.  Most of the 2,850 deaths from those battles were Australian.  Ironically, the Australian army did not adopt a doctrine for jungle warfare until 1943 when our major campaign was over. Our young men were trained ‘on the job’ along the Kokoda Trail.

"On Anzac Day, we take time out to understand more about our military history and to honour those who died for our country in all wars. We pay our respects to those who died fighting us and never returned to their families. They suffered in a similar way to our families who were forever changed by war. Please pay your part on our national day of remembrance by attending a service, watching the march, going to your local memorial to see who served and died in your suburb or just by reading or viewing material about the ANZAC tradition."
Dr K A Jaggar

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