12 November 2018

On 3 August 2018, I awoke early and sat in the dark and silence of dawn watching a small reflection service at the Isurava Memorial on the Kokoda. (The Battle of Isurava took place over 26 August to 31 August 1942 forming part of the Kokoda Track campaign of the Second World War).  The surrounding mountains were clad in low cloud but I could see four small lights highlighting the word on each commemorative stone at the memorial, Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice. These words are those that lay upon the various battle grounds and continue to be synonymous with the ANZAC spirit.

kokmate.jpg Isurava MemorialIsurava Memorial

Templeman's CrossingTempleman's Crossing

Twelve hours earlier, we had conducted our own dusk service where we asked our boys to stand under the stone that most reflected how they felt about the then six completed days on the Kokoda. Without any prompting or consultation with each other, the seven Year 11s chose the stone with the word 'Mateship'. Believe me, to have reached where we were, required all four characteristics, but for the seven Scotch College boys it was 'Mateship' that drove them as a group and meant the most to them.

This defining word was alive and well last Friday night when some of the Class of 1978 attended our Senior School assembly and then their evening reunion. What stood out was not just that it was a social opportunity to reunite, but a chance to reflect on their time together as students; no different to the Year 11s of 2018 sharing their Kokoda experience. The most poignant moment was when 10 names of the 1978 class were read out as no longer being with us. This is a large number from what was probably only 100 graduating students. The message, however sad, is that the Scotch journey does not conclude when the formal years of schooling are over. This is what defines our College community and will continue to do so for many years to come.

On 2 August 2018, the ABC posted a story headed 'Fields Medal: Aussie Genius Akshay Venkatesh wins Nobel Prize of mathematics'. In 1994 this same Scotch College student appeared on TV explaining how he was finishing his schooling early and hoping to become a mathematician. As they say in the classics 'the rest is history'. Last Friday we were able to present one of our current Year 10 students with a medal he won as part of the Australian Mathematics Olympiad team who attended the 2018 International Mathematics Olympiad in Romania. The team competed against 594 students from 107 countries. William Steinberg was one of the few who medaled with a silver and one of only three in the team to place within the top 100. The last person from Scotch College to win a medal at the IMO was Akshay. Congratulations to both Akshay and Will.

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Mathematics at Scotch College is looking bright. The College has just appointed a new Head of Mathematics from within our ranks, Ms Shirin Reyhani, and secured two more highly committed teachers of mathematics to join the already very strong Mathematics team at Scotch College. In a few weeks we commence our new teaching and learning building which will house our teaching areas of mathematics and business. We look forward to building upon our already rich and successful culture in these subjects.

Across the three sub-school assemblies last week there is so much to celebrate. What is great is that the successes are a mix of individual brilliance, coupled with team and collective success. Seeing boys of all ages take every opportunity is very encouraging. Notwithstanding individual success and recognition, it is important that we continue to promote personal best as our driver. Every boy can achieve their personal best, whether in the classroom or through their co-curricular pursuits. We all know when we have tried our best and this is more important than comparing ourselves to anyone else.

Finally, a big thank you to our OSCs and our Alumni Officer Cass McGowan, at the success of the 4th Festival of the Boot which took place on Sunday 12 August; our OSCs ensured that the trophy has remained at Scotch College for at least another 12 months. The OSC Festival of the Boot is yet another example of how life goes on for our graduates well beyond their years of formal schooling at Scotch College.

Have a great fortnight.

Dr Alec O'Connell
Headmaster