Principal's Address: Speech Night 2011

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
at the Annual Prize Giving and Speech Night
Held on 15 February 2011

Special guests, recent Old Boys, parents, staff and prize winners – welcome to High’s 127th Presentation Night.

I am proud to report to you on what has been the greatest year of all round achievement at High since I have been Principal. At the 2010 HSC examination High ranked 6th on the League table, retaining its ranking above NSBH and SGS. In ATARs our boys earned two maximum ranks and 42 at 99 or above; with 149 at 90 or better. Our average ATAR slipped a little to 92.98. John Wormell came first in Classical Greek. Jeffrey Lam was equal second in Software Design and Development. Max Wei was third in 2 - unit Mathematics and Dennis Kim fourth. Anirban Ghose was also fourth in Engineering Studies. Vithusan Mohan came fifth in Physics as did John Wormell in Classical Geek extension. In the Junior School, Stage 5 geography and history were both successfully telescoped for Year 9 with 396 candidates sitting the School Certificate in these courses as a combined group with Year 10. This intervention will now become a feature of our High Junior School curriculum.

During the year the grounds were enhanced by encapsulation work, new grass and new drainage around the gym, as well as a linking bitumen apron between gates one and two. New bitumen was laid in a section of the Junior Quad. The COLA and cricket nets complex was fenced and a sandstone retaining wall erected. The run up slab was extended, two long jump pits were laid and an additional storage shed constructed. Additional down pipes were added to the structure for extreme weather events. Additional playground drainage was also installed. A dozen more class rooms were equipped with data projectors, PCs, sound systems and security cabinets. Stage one of the network modernisation plan was completed. The Senior Library was fitted out as a research library. Books and resources were migrated over from the Junior Library.

In Academic Competitions, High was ranked second best school in Australia in the National Geographic Channel Australian Geography Competition; Howe Chen won the NSW ASX Schools Share Market Game; Nishant Paul won a medal in the ICAS Writing Competition; Declan Gorey made the train–on squad for the Mathematics Olympiad; and High boys won seven gold medals in the National Latin Exam (US).

The highlight of the sporting year was undoubtedly the wonderful success of the High basketball team. After winning the Rashke Cup Double, first grade was undefeated in the CHS Shell Cup knockout. Despite being edged out by Newington in the NSW All Schools final, our boys rebounded to win the Australian Schools Competition in Bendigo. Andrija Dumovic represented Australia in the U17 basketball team and Emmett Naar made the train-on squad after NSW selection. Daniel Jones and Jasper Garay represented at NSW level.

Our most consistently successful sport, volleyball, had another strong year. Our teams were GPS Champions in both grades. First grade won the CHS Knockout, the NSW All Schools Tournament and the Trans Pacific Cup. Merlin Li and Christopher Morrow represented NSW Combined High Schools in the Trans Tasman challenge.

In athletics, High had a very strong year. In teams events, High placed second to Westfields High in the NSW Schools Knockout Competition. At the GPS carnival, High placed 5th overall; the best result since 1976. With six wins and eighteen places, our athletes really made an impression. At the NSW All Schools Championship, Ivor Metcalfe won the 100m. hurdles and was third in the high jump. Chris Morrow placed second in High Jump and Anton Brokman 2nd. in the 800m. Francis Torok won the NSW U20 10k road race and the Open Cross Country at the NSW All Schools Championship.

In Combined GPS teams, our representatives were: Andrija Dumovic, Emmett Naar, Daniel Jones, Joshua Sutton and Stephen Yoon (basketball); Brian Kelly and Avindu Vithanage (cricket); Antony Paul and Sam Lane (football); Arman Abddollahi and Patrick Rynsaardt (tennis); Brendan Hancock and Jeremy Dobrowolski (water polo); Jack Musgrove and Ben Wilcox Max (swimming); Ryan Woo, Brendan Leo, Peter Tran and Yujin Wu (rifle shooting). In rugby Dominic Edgtton and George Denny-Smith were selected in CHS open Rugby teams.

In fencing, our U15 team won the NSW Schools Championship, the first state school to do so. In swimming, High won a gold medal in the 4 x 50m 14 years relay and a silver medal in the all-age relay at the NSW CHS Swimming Championships.

Non-GPS sport highlights included: Craig Moller (U16) and Lloyd Perris (U15) being selected in NSW Australian Football teams, and Kevin Qian in the U18 NSW table tennis team. At the NSW Interschool Skiing Championships at Perisher, the High team won silver medals in the cross-country freestyle and relay events. Several boys were awarded Blues – Sydney East Blues went to Merlin Li (volleyball), Lloyd Perris (Australian Football) and Frank Torok (cross country). Lloyd also earned a NSW CHS Blue for Australian Football.

In co-curricular activities, the stand-out performance was High Debating. Our boys secured Laura Stewart Cup the East Side Competition and the Year 11 boys won the Friday Evening Competition. In an unprecedented performance High teams won all three Premier’s Debating Challenge Knockout competitions – the Hume Barbour (Year 12), Karl Cramp (Year 11) and the Teasdale Cup (Year 10). Antony Paul was selected in the Australian Schools Debating Team.

High won the GPS Chess Tournament for the fifth consecutive year. Our boys won the NSWJCL Intermediate Division final.

The big event of the year for the Performance Music Program was the tour to France by fifty musicians and five staff. The ensemble played in various public ceremonies, were acclaimed in Fromelles and Peronne, and played at the dawn service on Anzac Day in Villers-Bretonneux. The tour was hailed as a great success.

In community service activities: our boys raised $87,158 in a wide range of fundraising activities, for charities, research organisations and school projects. 59 boys donated blood to the Red Cross.

In leadership, Samir Kinger attended the State SRC Conference, Jamian Vuong represented at Region. The High Resolves team were a great success with their video presentation in several venues.

The High experience would not be the same without the partnership of our parents. Some stay with us for up to 12 years, helping out in various ways. Most Year 12 parents here tonight are leaving us. I admire them and greatly appreciate what they do for their boys. I cannot acknowledge them all tonight but I want to mention a few. Peter Ambrose and Elizabeth O’Hare, Anne Aylmer, Julie and David Blomberg, Katharine Deacon, Neena Bhandari, Tim Musgrove, Mark and Alice Paul, Jenni and Ish Rajendram, Stephen Saunders, Geoff and Barbara Taylor, Steve Whiting and Mary Myerscough. Thank you and all the other parents who contributed so much.

In closing, I would like to make a comment about changes in the political scene. Our Australian political orthodoxies were shattered in 2010. We learnt that party leadership is not necessarily for a full term. We elected a government without a working majority. It seems now that Prime Ministers do not necessarily get second terms in office. Electoral cynicism has taken hold. The political landscape has changed for the 18-25 demographic particularly. The emergence of the Greens as a viable party of choice may have an impact on two-party politics as destabilising and long lasting as that of the Democratic Labor Party in the 1950s and 60s.

The eighteen day popular uprising in Tahrir Square, Cairo, ended the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak on February 11. Following Tunisia’s very recent example, Egypt became the 85th state since 1974 to remove an autocracy. Sadly, only half of these regimes have established successful democratic institutions and electoral processes. If Egypt has a relatively peaceful transition to a form of democracy in the medium term it will erode the narrative of al-Qaeda which claims that it is only by violence and the establishment of Islamist States that the Muslim world can be saved. Later in this century, commentators will hail this year as a momentous turning point for Middle Eastern politics, or condemn it as a tragically wasted opportunity for the West to do in Egypt what has not been done in Iraq or Afghanistan – end the very strong international appeal of the al-Qaeda rhetoric to Muslims not accessing the benefits of Western consumerism. There are interesting geopolitical times ahead.

I congratulate all prize winners tonight and wish the outgoing Year 12 boys and their families our very best wishes for the future.