Principal's Address: Foundation Day Assembly 2010

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
127th Foundation Day Assembly
Held on 12 October 2010

Special guests, Old Boy Order of Australia Medallists, Members, Officers or Companions, former school Captains and Prefects, Prefect Internees, School Family representatives, parents, staff and students – welcome to our 127th Foundation Day Assembly. This occasion celebrates the foundation of public secondary schools in 1883 as institutions preparing students for tertiary study. Our school was established for that purpose. That ideal has remained as the key focus of the school. On this day we also celebrate leadership and its renewal as our latest group of Prefect Internees are sworn in. The Prefects change but the office and the importance of being High Prefects remain. Today I want to offer a particular welcome to Mark Wieland (School Captain, 1980). I know he will feel at home. After all, back in 1980 he would have encountered many people who are still at High today. He may have witnessed Mr Boros coaching the 15 years tennis, or Mr Michael Smith, Mr Gainford or Mr Moody coaching the 13A, 13B rugby or 16 B rugby. Mr Kourtesis was teaching mathematics and coaching the 3rd and 4th cricket teams and Mr Farrington was coaching first grade basketball. In 1980 there were three platoons of cadets, commanded by Captain Gainford. In the Office there was a staff of eleven and a School Bursar! It would be terrific if that office had been maintained! As always, the strength of High has been in its people – in their devotion to the aims of the school over long periods of time.

Mark represented High in the first VIII for three years and was awarded a Rowing Blue in 1979. He was Open Swimming Champion in 1980, winning seven events. He represented in athletics and rugby in the first XV where he was coached by Rugby Master Tony Hannon and played alongside current PE teacher David Smith, John Croll, Rob Fetherston and John McGrath who wrote up the season report for The Record. In the 1980 season the first XV had one point wins on their way to victory as CHS Zone Premiers. In the GPS season, after narrow losses to Kings, Grammar and Joeys, the team won their last four games. In 1980 there were 6 Open Rugby teams and 2 football teams playing in CHS competition. In 2010 there were 2 Open Rugby teams and 8 football teams, reflecting a changed clientele in sport. Nevertheless, the school’s ethos has remained unchanged. High is as committed as it ever was to competing in the GPS competition. It is unique in being the only school that participates in all of the sports organised by GPS schools. High has always been about upholding tradition and embracing change. In 1980, as today, High has been underpinned by its academic selectivity, its GPS membership and “its distinctive brand of community involvement”. High has always had to struggle to maintain its access to facilities for GPS competition. It has always relied on its parents and Old Boys to acquire assets. In 1980, the Headmaster Bob Outterside, was campaigning to get the school a new library. He was also lobbying the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism for funds to refurbish the Fairland Pavilion. These are familiar themes for me as in the generation since 1980 government funding for this school’s renewal has not been forthcoming despite many attempts by three successive Heads to secure it. High has always believed in self-help too. In 1980 serious fundraising was underway for the Centenary Project, the refurbishment of the Abbotsford Rowing Facility. Then, as now, fund raising was difficult in a context where competitive entry limited intergenerational enrolment. The first and second stages of that building were completed by the mid-1990s, due to the untiring efforts of staff, parents and school community organisations. We are engaged in a similar long term struggle to raise funds for a Multi Purpose Centre for Performing Arts. I remain optimistic that the High community has the resilience, the sense of civic duty and the resolve to persevere until it can create new facilities for generations of gifted students to enjoy.

Our School Prefect Internees are inducted today to represent the high ideals of the school. They were the first to be presented and elected online. Our expectations of them are onerous. They need to showcase the best that the school has to offer in dress, manners, commitment to school life, discipline in academics and service to the school and community. They have different backgrounds, interests and talents, reflecting the wonderful diversity that co-exists so harmoniously in this school. Prefects are allies of the staff in that they help to make things happen – assemblies, school events, sporting occasions, public ceremonies, representational duties or celebrations. We count on them to assist us. They are the role models we endorse for junior boys to aspire to emulate. They have to earn the badges that they will be presented with in 2011, once they successfully complete their internship.

After today’s assembly we are also honouring the leadership and service of Old Boys in the Order of Australia honours system. This year we are celebrating Old Boy Officers of the Order of Australia with an honour board. The award of Officer of the Order of Australia is reserved for “distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or humanity at large”. There are forty-three names on the new board we are unveiling today. This is the third in our series of honour boards for the Order of Australia. There are now ninety names on the Member honour boards to accompany the sixty-two names on the Medallist honour board. These boards connect our present emphasis on school and community service to High Old Boys whose careers after school served the wider community in a celebrated manner. I want to congratulate all the Prefects who were elected. I urge them to reflect on the oath that they are about to swear and exhort them to maintain and enhance the moral values of the school that were so apparent in 1980 and are in evidence to a high degree today.