Foundation Day Assembly – Principal’s Address

 

Special guest Jon Isaacs (SHS-1967), Ms Andrea Connell, Principal SGHS, Paul Almond, President SHSOBU, Geoff Andrews, Chairman, SHS Foundation, Professor Ron Trent, President SBHS School Council, Ben Wilcox (School Captain 2012) distinguished Old Boys from the Class of 1967, staff, parents, Prefect Interns and students, welcome to our Foundation Day Assembly for 2017. It is inspiring to have 23 Old Boys to celebrate Founder’s Day with us this morning. Thank you all for coming. Thank you also to our piano players James Li and Christopher Yuan.

The central reason for today’s gathering is to celebrate the opening of the School on October 1, 1883. While reminding ourselves annually about what we believe the school was established to achieve, we also reinforce the cultural rite of passage for its student leaders as they enter their final year. Our school was founded to prepare students for university study. That is also its objective today. In the 1880s students wanted their school life to be richer than just academic study, so they organised ‘games’. High’s co-curricular life grew out of student action, culminating in membership of the AAGPS in 1906.

We honour the impressive student leadership traditions that have developed over one hundred and thirty-four years since our establishment. The investiture ceremony for Prefect ‘Interns’ restates our belief in our core values, preserves our past traditions of service, revives the stories that bind us to our interpretation of those traditions and reaffirms our vision for the future. Modelling cultural values through leadership is, and has always been, an integral aspect of our school culture.

Our guests today include School Captains and Prefects from the past. Their names are signed in the Prefects Book – our special record of generations of leaders. Their names are on our honour boards. They were awarded prizes for physics or chemistry. They represented in the First XI, the First and Second XV, the First VIII, the IVs, First Grade Tennis, Water polo, Debating. They played in the orchestra. By their presence here today they indicate that there is something important happening here at High that should be honoured and preserved. They will bear witness today to the pledges that you Prefect Interns make to uphold the values of the office of School Prefect.

When our 1967 guests were in their last year of school, major offensives were launched against the Viet Cong in Vietnam by the USA and its Allies. In June there was a six-day war between Israel and its neighbouring Arab states. Nigeria plunged into civil war. Dr Christian Barnard successfully transplanted a human heart. Sgt Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band was a ground-breaking album for The Beatles.

In 1967 there was a real changing of the guard here at High. A.R. Jessep departed after seventeen years of service to the school in the areas of Classics – as teacher and master, in sports development and management, the School Union and the chess club. J. G. Bradford was appointed Deputy Principal. He took over from Murray Callaghan as Principal in March of 1973 and led the school until 1976. Fourteen new staff members entered on duty in 1967 – a major shift in personnel. It was a time of renewal and of hope, as the Wyndham Scheme replaced the Leaving Certificate with the Higher School Certificate, as the School Certificate had previously replaced the Intermediate Certificate. Years became Forms and the Class of 1967 were our first Sixth Formers. The curriculum became broader, but as Callaghan said in The Record, High’s “essential aim remained unchanged – that of providing a full educational experience, a rich opportunity for each pupil”… Urging our students to seize the myriad opportunities on offer, is still a catch cry of ours at High.

Jon Isaacs, as Captain, in ‘The Record’ of 1967, characterised school spirit by identifying its manifestations …”we can acknowledge it by deeds, by accepting it as part of our faith, by consciously directing our participation towards the school’s advantage…School spirit, like religion, is a way of life.” There is an element of seeing support for the school as a calling that we can still relate to strongly. People have a propensity to adhere to a principle, cause or belief greater than themselves, in order to add more depth to their lives. Too often in contemporary society, people in general and students in particular, are apt to inquire – ‘what’s in it for me?’-, before committing themselves to an activity. There is just so much choice and so many distractions in this technological age that it is increasingly hard to keep students focussed on devoting time and energy to any one pursuit. There is a sense that personal empowerment through online activity is more of a priority than seeking empowerment through commitment to an institution or to others. For those that do commit, there are personal and social rewards. Jon’s characterisation of a spiritual commitment to school life is very much aligned to the way we promote our school today – ‘You can’t buy spirit.’ Indeed, you have to live it.

Turning to those who will carry on the fine leadership traditions at High, I exhort our Prefect Interns to be great role models and demonstrate high quality leadership. Each one of you must pledge to uphold and enhance the traditions of this fine school. You will have to maintain a high academic standard in state terms throughout your internship. You will need to participate in two GPS sports in your final year, starting with summer sport in term 4. You will need to earn 100 Student Award Scheme points and qualify for an Award in this current year and in 2018. You will need to demonstrate to all your peers by your dress, demeanour and self-regulation that you believe in the ethos of the school. Your behaviour, attendance and punctuality will need to be exemplary. We have set a high bar. You have all shown that you can clear it – with dedicated effort. I congratulate all Prefect Interns who will be inducted here today.

Dr K A Jaggar