Welcome to 2019! We are well and truly into Term 1. This is the ninth year of the school and I believe it is fair to say that the school has been going from strength to strength.
The year has started with the new vertical sub-school system based on the four Houses; Blackwood, Cottrell, Kororoit and Rothwell. Along with this structure is a new timetable and daily structure. The new system has been a success already. The changes in student dynamics has been noticeable across the board and the sense of belonging, the esprit de corps, of the Houses is palpable. The vertical Home Groups have had a significant role in this changing relationship, with the mix of different year levels being very positive.
The new students have all settled in well with a dedicated transition program for all year levels. While our primary transition program, Primus, is specifically for the Year 9 students, we take great care in ensuring the new Year 10 and 11 students also have a successful transition into the school. Primus is an extensive program designed to inculcate the students in the process of learning at Suzanne Cory High School. It is also designed to build resilience and social cohesion amongst the student body.
The start of the school year is always busy. The students were at school for less than a week before we all met at MSAC for the House swimming carnival. In our second year at this venue, the spirit and enthusiasm for the competition was inspiring. And this spirit continued three weeks later when the school moved across the road to the Wyndham athletics track for the House athletics competition. These are important events to develop both House and School spirit and it was very pleasing to see the excellent attendance from all year levels.
This is an appropriate reminder for the whole school community that every part of the school program is important. The whole school program is designed for the benefit of the students and each aspect is interconnected with every other component. Attendance at a House event, like the athletics, and participation in the positive atmosphere of the day, has a direct, and beneficial, impact on each student’s wellbeing, which in turn has a positive impact on their academic endeavours.
The Year 12 students have an important role to play in the school; they are, collectively, the leaders of the school. They are the role models for the younger year levels. I appreciate that they often feel under pressure to perform and we take great care in providing extensive academic, careers and wellbeing support. We often hear discussion about VCE results and the ‘ranking’ of the school; however, these discussions often miss the main point of the exercise that is the VCE. We must remember that the VCE is a mechanism that provides our students access to tertiary education. I have consistently stated that a better indication of the school’s, and therefore the students’, success is the percentage of students that gain entry into one of their top three university course preferences. While in 2018 our median ATAR improved, of more importance was the fact that just over 90% of our students were offered a university place in one of their first three preferences. This is real success.
The fundamental philosophy of the school is encapsulated in the ideal of the Renaissance person. The breadth of opportunities at the school clearly demonstrates this reality. One of the major opportunities we offer is overseas trips. Cambodia continues to be an important destination for our students under the auspices of Global Learning Expeditions (GLE). In December this year, students and staff will travel back to Siem Reap and the Pa Sao School, a school with which we will establish a formalised sister school relationship. This is an amazing opportunity for our students to develop educational opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged young people in the world. We also have a small group of students competing in the Singapore International Science Challenge and there will be an opportunity later in the year for students in Year 9 and 10 to participate in the humanities exchange with the National Junior College, Singapore. And at the end of Term 3 we have a group of students and staff attending a space camp in Alabama, USA.
You may have noticed over the holidays a campaign on social media to raise awareness of the school and to encourage junior students with the support of their parents, to apply for SCHS. This campaign has already had a significant effect on application numbers for 2020. In addition to this, we now have a new website. Please do have a look and take a virtual tour of the school!
Welcome to 2019 and I am looking forward to another successful, and exciting, chapter in the history of Suzanne Cory High School.