High Notes, Vol 23 No 7, March 18 2022

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From the Principal

High Talent

In the recent 2021-22 VEX Robotics Australian National Championship in Adelaide, High students performed very well. The event is organised by The REC (Robotics Education & Competition). Every year more than 1 million students, from over 24,000 teams across more than sixty countries, participate. The REC Foundation’s mission in organising VEX competitions is to increase student interest and involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, affordable, and sustainable robotics engineering programs. Ethan Li (10F) and Joshua Li (8S) team 58A were named the Teamwork Challenge National Champion and also Robot Skill Champions for the VEX Robotics middle school division. Ethan Hu (7R) in team 878A was the Teamwork Challenge National Champion for the VEX IQ elementary school division. Great job, boys! Congratulations to Matthew Awad (SHS-2021) who was awarded a UNSW Co-op scholarship in computer Science.

Our Agreed School Values 

Our agreed school values begin with RESPECT.  If we believe in showing respect, we will act in a thoughtful manner around others, being sensitive to their rights as persons.  We will consider and reflect upon how our words and actions impact ourselves, others around us and our environment. We will listen and hear others. If we hold the value of COMPASSION, we will know that we exist in a community of others.  We will strive to create an inclusive community where everyone feels they belong.  Our words and actions will demonstrate an understanding of diversity.  We will show empathy by sensing how others may feel in certain circumstances and contexts, and by showing our support for them at all times. We will treat them as we would be treated. If we believe in behaving with INTEGRITY, we will be open and honest in all situations.  We will show our moral strength by taking ownership of all of our actions, recognising their consequences.  We will seek truth and act truthfully, modelling its value. We will walk our talk. We will take responsibility for our words and actions. Given the very high expectations that we have for ourselves, and our families have for us, we will show our DEDICATION to all our tasks.  We undertake to perform to the best of our ability.  We will fulfil commitments we make to ourselves and to others.  We believe that we will have to be determined, resilient and versatile if we are to embrace our challenges and succeed in them to our own satisfaction. We will develop grit and perseverance, particularly when doing the hard things.

These agreed values were seen as the most important among many possible drivers of collective endeavours.  Students, staff, parents and Old Boys would like to see these values define our learning community.  We are jointly and severally accountable for making them a shared reality and not a collective dream. These value statements will become benchmarks against which we will assess our progress towards becoming the fully formed learning community to which we aspire.  The values are both worthy and demanding for students and staff alike.  For the life of our Strategic Improvement Plan 2022-2025, we must keep these agreed values at the forefront of our discourse about our school, be it positive or negative. These values must drive our actions on behalf of the school. We will strive to celebrate our successes and make good our shortcomings. Most importantly, the possibility of improvement has to be a shared belief and pursuing excellence a collective goal.

National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence

Friday 18 March is the nominated National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. The initiative has been operating for 12 years trying to bring schools and communities together to find workable solutions to prevent bullying and lessen acts of violence. The aim is to build a Kindness Culture, promoting respect and community belonging in Australian schools. Together with the Department of Education’s Inclusive, Engaging and Respectful Schools package and Be Kind Online, it is hoped that the concerted strategy will modify school cultures towards greater awareness of the impacts of bullying, exclusion and violence and develop a stronger collective will to employ processes and procedures to address them.

Head of the River Assembly

My address to the Rowing Assembly is reprinted below:

'Rowers of Head of the River crews, parents, students, teachers, welcome to our 2022 rowing assembly. We congregate again on the Friday before the Head of the River to honour and congratulate our crews as they prepare to lay their bodies on the line and push themselves to exhaustion in pursuit of a PB at the Head of the River regatta. As if COVID restrictions were not enough to derail our training program, floods in the Sydney basin have taken out the traditional venue at the Sydney International Rowing Centre. Luckily, our boys had a good antediluvian hit out at Grafton at the CHS championships. Despite all the interruptions our crews have worked hard to prepare themselves for this biggest regatta of the year.

'Competitive sport is a lot about stress management -the environment, the crowd, the anticipation, the nervous wait to compete. Hungarian ex-patriot academic Hans Selye (1907-1982) first focussed the medical world’s attention on the biological effects of stress. Stress is ‘the nonspecific response of the body to any demand’. Selye’s Syndrome recognises three phases in our reaction to stress - the alarm reaction; the stage of resistance and the stage of exhaustion. At first, we take stock and prepare for effects of stress. We can then cope with stress for a certain, individually determined amount of time, but thereafter, the exhaustion response takes over. Stress before the start of the Head of the River event can have a debilitating effect on performance by the 1500 mark of the course. I hope our crews manage their personal stress levels well on Saturday.

'I would like again to acknowledge and congratulate George Barris (SHS-2001) for his high standard of work as MIC of Rowing and Coaching Coordinator. The program this year received a boost when the second pontoon was finally installed, doubling crew access time on some training days and supporting a broader sculling participation. Thank you to Old Boy John Croll (SHS-1981) who returned to High to help George Barris coach the first VIII. Thank you to Tim Trent (SHS-2018) in his second year as 2nd VIII coach. Daniel Xu (SHS-2016) has guided the fours program. Thank you to Steve Comninos (SHS-2013), Alvis Leung (SHS-2017) and Antoine Nguyen (SHS-2021) for their work with the Year 10 VIIIs.

'Our Year 9 quads were coached by Gordon Su (SHS-2018), Lenny Han (SHS-2018) and Ryan Zhang (SHS-2018). Year 8 coaches were headed up by long-serving Marguerite Pain, with Jordan Whittaker (SHS-2020), James Appleton (SHS-2019) and Jack Ralph (SHS-2018). Marguerite is also coordinating our Year 7 introduction to rowing this year, with the help of Gilbert Win (SHS-2021), Kevin Chen (SHS-2021), Adrian Wong (SHS-2021) and Robert Yuan (SHS-2016). Thanks go to you all.  I want to thank the staff who assist George to run the program – Mark Gainford, Joanna Chan and Vivian Paul. Thank you to our trailer drivers Terry Fong and Vivian Paul.

'Thank you again to the Rowing Committee, particularly the President Les Chang, for his tremendous amount of work on behalf of rowing and the Outterside Centre this year. Our thanks go also to Secretary (Emma Britton), Parking Coordinator (Fred Shao), Camp Coordinator (Carmen Lam) and Communications Coordinator (Binh Johnsun).

'Thirty years ago, the 1992 first VIII crew was labelled, the ‘Golden Eight’ because it was the first crew in 34 years to win the Riverview Gold Cup. Coached by Stuart Derwin, the lightweight crew trained hard, with an emphasis on many kilometres of sculling. After finishing a disappointing 6th in the Head of the River, the stroke, Darren Coleman wrote ‘nobody knows the pain of a rower except another rower.’ He concluded that’ rowing plays a major role in developing the lives of those it affects.’ Shared goals, shared striving, shared success and disappointment – rowing is the ultimate communal sport. It builds character, resilience, dedication, commitment, self-sacrifice. Head of the River rowers join the fraternity of sufferers who found out how hard they could push themselves to extend their personal limits.

'This year is like no other for rowing. The AAGPS has had to move out of SIRC and onto the Parramatta River course at Iron Cove. It is a very difficult area for spectators and so we are not sending many to the regatta. Importantly, the course has to be shortened due to issues around the two sets of pylons since the bridge duplication a few years ago. Consequently, crews have to alter their routines and race strategies. The skill of coxswains will be critical to navigating a straight course to the finish.

'I want to congratulate all the boys who have been selected to compete for High. They have chosen to do what Angela Duckworth describes as their ‘hard thing’. They test their grit every week and learn how to be grittier. The purpose of team sports at school is to build character in participants. The dispositions acquired through sports can be held for life. It is all about the process. Outcomes are limited or assisted by natural attributes. Everyone can possess great resolve. ‘Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other’ as Abraham Lincoln observed. Success is achieved through courage, realistic goal setting and ferocious focus. The primary goal is to be on the list of 42 High crews who, since 1999 have rowed under the winner’s time + 9.99%. Even better, aspire to be among the 28 crews between 5.1% and 7.5%. The ultimate goal would be to be alongside the four crews who have rowed the winner’s time + <5%. Whatever the outcome, enjoy the experience and remember its uniqueness. It is your day! Good luck to you all!'
Dr K A Jaggar

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