High Notes, Vol 23 No 3, February 18 2022

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From the Principal

Caught Doing the Right Thing

I received this email from a happy commuter last Friday. “This morning I hopped on a train from Waverton to Milsons Point, upon entering the carriage, a student of yours, a Shaun Lee (7R), immediately jumped up and offered his seat. His manners were impeccable, he was quiet and well behaved - he is a great diplomat for your school. I believe these days we are so quick to complain or make noise about those kids out there that are not following the rules, but yet we give so little when they do the right thing. I just want to give back and say, if that is the sort of students that represent your school – then you guys are doing a great job!!! As a sole parent, I know that a lot, if not most of this begins at home, so please, by all means, pass on my thanks to his parents for doing a great job”. Well done on exhibiting the school values of respect and compassion Shaun!

Mask Wearing

Our policy is that students should bring two masks to school each day. It is not the school’s responsibility to supply students with masks. Anyone in necessitous circumstances who cannot afford to purchase masks is invited to contact me. The main office has been swamped by requests from students to supply them with masks. Students are now being referred to the two Deputies.  They will be given masks on two occasions and warned to bring two masks to school. On the third occasion disciplinary action will be taken to exclude students who are putting themselves and others in harm’s way.  A reminder to parents and students that wearing a mask at school is still mandatory. Penalties will be applied to those students who fail to comply.

The Sydney High School Building Fund 

The Sydney High School Building Fund is a capital fund managed by the Sydney High School Foundation Ltd on behalf of the school. The object of the Fund is to provide facilities and resources for the use of students at High. Some of these assets are located off-site. The Foundation owns, maintains and operates the Outterside Centre and manages the Fairland Pavilion. It also negotiates and manages Deeds of Licence with third parties for medium and long-term arrangements. It delivered finance for one half of the c $14,750,000 major project the Governors Centre, a joint endeavour with SGHS completed in 2021 after 10 years of effort. Contributions by parents for 2021 were $530,240. Monthly Giving from parents added another $24,010. This culture of ongoing generosity is the principal reason why High has acquired the assets it enjoys over 139 years and the access it has to facilities at Moore Park, Abbotsford, Malabar, Sydney International Shooting Centre, Rose Bay and Centennial Park. Our next project is to install a demountable science lab, c $475,000 and to air condition the Junior Library c $75,000. Please help us to achieve these two important goals in 2022 by making your annual contributions to the Sydney High School Building Fund.

Presentation Night 2022

My speech on Presentation Night is reprinted below:

"Special guest Mr Robert Orr PSM QC, Ms Angela Lyris OAM, relieving Director of Educational Leadership, Mr Saheel Afiz (Vice-President  SBHS P & C), Professor Ron Trent (President SBHS School Council), Mr Eric Wong (Treasurer of the Sydney High Old Boys Union), Ms Judite Santos (Chair of Sydney High School Foundation Ltd.), Mr Vince Delzio  (CEO, Sir Roden & Lady Cutler Foundation), Life Governors  Mr Dennis Briggs and Dr George Lewkowitz, guest presenters Nathan McDonnell & Richard Halliday, special guests’ partners, Old Boys, staff, parents and prize winners – thank you all for joining us this evening.

"As it was for 2020, our major accomplishment for 2021 was to see out the second pandemic year safely. Our 3-year $800k Classroom Modification Project was completed. During lockdown, we also had time to carry out extensive drainage, asphalting and concreting works in the approaches to the Governors Centre on the Flat and to complete our Wall of Gratitude, honouring more than 500 donors to the joint project. We managed to resurface the basketball courts, erect a storage shed for football and supply lighting, power and water to the barbecue shack. These capital works were delivered by David Isaacs for design, Jim Crampton for restoration works in classrooms and grounds and DP Admin John Prorellis for his expert project management. My heartfelt thanks go to them.

"I must commend the High staff who transitioned so well to the Sentral Student Management System along with bedding down more modules in the CANVAS Learning Management System. Piling on top of the workload caused by COVID protocols and restrictions, their willingness to be involved exhibited highly professional cooperation and dedication. Thanks to Jamie Kay and Lynda Pinnington-Wilson, Brett Jackson, George Barris and the CANVAS Leads who drove the changes. It was another extraordinary year in which High staff engaged in a great deal of professional learning in a context of stress, anxiety and disruption occasioned by the changing Public Health and Government responses to the pandemic.

"In ATAR terms, our HSC results for 2021 were marginally better than for 2020, despite the fall in the League Tables, which do not account for the quality of courses in which Band 6s are earned. High boys received 580 band 6/E4s which was below our 600 target. The ATAR average for 2021 was 92.59 calculated for 213 candidates with a standard deviation of 7.54. The 170 students who enrolled in 2016 earned a mean ATAR of 93.1 with SD 6.95. The 43 later-enrolling students had an ATAR mean of 90.59 with a SD of 9.24. [the 16-year averages are 93.21 v 90.58]. 31 students scored 99 or better; 74 students earned ATARs between 95 and 98.95; and 163 overall scored 90 or above. Pleasingly, our tail was shorter with just 7.5% with ATARs below 80, the lowest percentage since 2015 and well below the long term average of 8.89%. We think that CANVAS access to learning materials and our Learning Support Team’s efforts had a positive impact on this underachievement. In terms of Band 5 & 6 % per course, 11 courses were higher, 10 were lower and 11 stayed the same (most of which were 100%). Our 2021 course means compared to 2020 – 15 increased and 17 decreased. When comparing High with its SSSG, 24 courses were positive and eight negative. Hanyang Zheng and Ryan Lee earned maximum calculated ATARs. State rankings in their courses - Chemistry – Ryan Lee (1), Eric Ho (7), Auguste McNally (10), Richard Bao (13); Mathematics Advanced – Sarfaraz Ahmed (1) & Andy Xia (14) from Year 11; Mathematics Extension 1 – Hanyang Zheng (1); Physics – Hanyang Zheng (2); Latin Extension – Nicholas Arvanitellis (2); Chinese in Context - Yifei  Wu (2); Software Design and Development - Cyril Vivek Subramanian (6); Engineering Studies – Ryan Lee (10) and in Biology – Julian Waring (17). Congratulations to you all. Some more achievements are outlined for you to peruse at the end of your program.

"Tonight, we bid farewell to the Class of 2021, but before we do, I want to make some observations about our national context. Our social and political institutions are showing the signs of increasing pressure as the pandemic drags on. People are feeling put upon and want to push back. The anti-vax movement is disrupting traffic each day in the national capital. The issue of sexual discrimination and harassment in the Parliament and the workplace is becoming a central one as governments are perceived to be dragging their feet on reform. Apologies and promises must be replaced with legislation and enforceable penalties. The amendment of the Sex Discrimination Act and the unravelling of the Religious Discrimination Bill in the form it was presented to the House of Representatives, led to 5 Liberal Members crossing the floor to vote with Labor on amendments to enact protection for LGBQTI students in faith-based schools. These actions demonstrate the rising importance of acknowledging diversity in our society and providing legislative protection against discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity. The NSW Government was smacked by voters at the Super Saturday by elections – another sign of our collective COVID weariness.

"Perhaps we will make time in the next Parliament to address the intergenerational problem of institutionalised racism in our society. For 60 years in NSW (until 1969) it was lawful for Aboriginal children to be removed from their homes at any time and for any reason. Despite the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975, the recommendations of Bringing Them Home Report (1997), the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples (2008) and the Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017), it is hard to discern much practical progress towards inclusion and constitutional agency. It is arguable that as a society we are going backwards. In December 2017, 30.2% of indigenous respondents to a survey said that they experienced ‘a form of everyday discrimination at least weekly’. In December 2020, the comparable response was 51%. In the last decade there has been a 56% growth in hospitalisations for self-harm among indigenous people. Indigenous men between the ages of 25 and 29 have the highest suicide rates in the world at 90.8/100,000 people. Despite being a small proportion of our population indigenous people complain about their daily ‘torment of powerlessness’. As W.B. Yeats observed in ‘Easter 1916’ – Too long a sacrifice/ can make a stone of the heart’. News vision of an indigenous man attacking police with a tomahawk demonstrates the consequences of extended oppression – violence against the oppressor. You young men, as society’s leaders of the future must be in the vanguard of the fight for a fairer and more just Australian society for everybody, so that we can maintain our cherished safe and multicultural society.  Try to stop more hearts turning to stone. Goodbye and good luck. It was a privilege for me to serve as your principal".
Dr K A Jaggar
Principal

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