Principal's Address: Speech Night 2012

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
at the Annual Prize Giving and Speech Night
Held on 21 February 2012

Class of 2011, special guest Major-General Smith AO (retired), distinguished guests, prize winners, parents staff and families, welcome to High’s 128th Presentation Night.

The achievements of High boys in 2011 were approximately… sensational. At the 2011 HSC High was ranked 4th on the league table on the back of an outstanding 118 band 6 results in Advanced English, some highest ever mathematics means and great strengths in chemistry. Dennis Kim, Austin Ly, Jeffrey Tang and Max Wei all earned maximum ATARS of 99.95. It appears that 57 boys were ranked at 99 or higher and 89% of the cohort scored 90 ATAR or better. The ATAR average for 207 students was 94.57, a great result, particularly in the year that the first Year 9 class of 2008 graduated. They key to our all-round success was collaboration – by teachers, by students, by parents.

Individual HSC results inside the top ten in the state were: Austin Ly first in physics, Dennis Kim 7th and also Dennis was 5th in chemistry. Derek Wei, 4th in Engineering Studies, Samuel Beston and Jeffrey Tang, top ten in Latin Continuers and also Latin extension for Samuel. There were 7 ENCORE nominations for music and one for ARTEXPRESS.

Declan Gorey was equal first in the UNSW Mathematics Competition and went on to win a silver medal at the Mathematics Olympiad in Amsterdam. Jamieson Thai won a national prize in the UNSW Economics Competition. In the UNSW business studies competition, Jonathan Adhika and Kenny Lau received state prizes. High was ranked first in Australia in the National Geographic Competition for the third time in four years. Ashwin Rudder and Dawen Shi were placed equal first in Australia. Chris Chiam won the Classical Greek reading competition. Nakhul Baghwat won the Trinity Grammar Annual Speaking Competition.

In debating the Karl Cramp PDC competition was won by High for the 14th time but the boys were also GPS second grade champions – a great and rare double. Our chess teams won the Senior and Intermediate divisions of the NSW Interschool competition. Our team won the GPS Championship. The open team finished 4th in the Australian Schools Championship.

The year was important for our social justice programs. Besides the $117k. in money raised, our boys involved themselves personally in many worthwhile charitable organisations and awareness raising projects. Their achievements have raised the profile of the school in the wider community.

The standout sporting team for 2011 was Open basketball. They won a GPS Premiership, the CHS Knockout again, the NSW All Schools, the Raschke Cup again and backed up to defend successfully the Australian Schools Championship. Our U15 basketball team won the CHS Knockout. Our Open Volleyball team took out the NSW All Schools Tournament but lost a close 5-setter to Kelso at the CHS Knockout Final. The U16 team won at All Schools and won Division 2 at the national championships in Melbourne.

High boys earned wonderful individual honours in 2011. Chris Morrow won a CHS Blue for Volleyball, toured Thailand with the Australian U19 Volleyball team and won a place in the AIS. Andrija Dumovic toured to Croatia in the U19 Australian basketball team and along with Emmett Naar was selected as an AIS athlete. Lloyd Perris was selected to the AIS for AFL. Amandeep Dhaliwal was selected in the Australian All Stars Volleyball team. Christian Jurlina and Daniel Jones were selected in the CIS basketball team. Combined GPS representatives for football were: Nakul Baghwat, Samuel Lane and Arjun Punekar. Arman Abdollahi and Patrick Rynsaardt made the combined GPS tennis team. Oliver Meroni and Michael Phung were chosen in the CHS cricket team. Congratulations to all our high achievers!

I would like to express my thanks to all our parents who are leaving us tonight and who helped the school in its activities. Without your contributions High could not do what it does. In particular, I would like to thank Fabienne and Charles Ovadia who have served the school so energetically for twelve years – contributing to the P & C, the Canteen Committee, School Council, Big Night Out, rowing, rugby, Parent Mentors and the School Selection Committee. David and Katrina Morrow contributed consistently to athletics, basketball and the School Canteen. Anita Betjak helped in rowing significantly. Deborah Cassells was a stalwart in the debating program and the P & C.

In honour of the Class of 2011’s unprecedented academic, co-curricular and community service achievements, I would like to conclude by posing a few of the big questions that will concern many of you, particularly those who rise to become influential in business, law or public policy. The French poet, Paul Valéry, wrote: “the trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be”. Once there was a societal comfort that the next generation would be guided by the same values, governed by the same institutions and operate in the same economic and social environment, as did the present generation. In the 21st century, the problem is not just unpredictability, it is more like a paradigm shift to uncertainty. Changes everywhere are making the future very much unlike what it was. You will have to help to redefine the context of that future.

What contribution will you make towards living on a fragile, crowded and warming planet? How will you grapple with the problems of global sustainability – ecologically, economically or socio-politically? How will you balance the need for energy, against the problems created by its extraction, such as the coal seam gas mining and north-west shelf gas development controversies. As biomedicine advances you all can expect to live very long lives. What will your attitude be towards bioethical issues surrounding IVF experimentation and designer babies, genetic engineering, organ transplanting or human cloning? Will you work in a modified legal system where universality of application gives way to in a circumscribed pluralism? Will there evolve different legal responses for people of varying cultural, religious and legal traditions?

Geopolitically, you will live through the shift of power from West back to East as the sheer size and energy of China’s economy starts to dominate world trade, overtaking the USA as it struggles with obsolescence and social fracturing caused by the decline of traditional manufacturing in a new world economy. With globalisation of communication via personal devices, will the world move closer to implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Will democracy be the only form of government on the planet by the end of this century? At home, how will you all cope with the marginalisation of Parliament by Executive government and the substitution of spin for debate about policies, legislation and administrative decisions?

As you go forward from High to tertiary institutions and the world of work we are confident that the intended and unintended curriculum here has equipped you to thrive in a problematic future. We know you will have the insights and training to cope with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Thank you and your families for your contributions to our great school and its traditions. Like a coral reef they grow as a result of the numerous accretions by individuals. Congratulations to all prize winners.