20th October 2021

As the great Bill Lawry used to say, “It’s all happening”.  Our Year 12s are in their last week; in fact, tomorrow is their last day, before their final exam period begins.  Thirteen years of school (if you add in Prep) and it all comes down to this.  The moment has arrived, and we believe our students are as well prepared as they possibly could be.

They say it takes a whole village to raise a child.  Our students’ journey began at primary school, with many to most of our year 12s beginning their journey at Coolum or Peregian Springs State Schools.  Every parent waving goodbye to their child on their first day of school believes they are farewelling a genius.  And, they are, as all students are a genius in their own way.

As they have passed along their journey, each child has been “raised” by different teachers, sports coaches, driving instructors, bus drivers, first job managers, Aunts, Uncles, friends’ parents and countless others.  Along the journey, there are moments that matter, and moments we remember, and I’m sure our students will remember when they undertook their final Year 12 exams.  On Saturday, a hardy band of dedicated students came into school to prepare for the exams, and an even bigger group is expected this Saturday.

Their community has prepared them.  That first day of school seems an eternity ago now.  Preparation is the greatest key to success and lost ground can’t be made up at this stage.  The test papers have been sent, the pencils have been sharpened and the desks carefully placed into the right position.  “It’s all happening” and everyone is set to go.  I am sure our students will do us proud! 

13th October 2021

Did you know that Coolum High now leads the region in outcomes for students when they leave school?  That’s right, our students are leading the way when it comes to making positive choices in their lives.

Of our 2019 graduates, a whopping 42.5 per cent went to university to study Bachelors’ degrees.  What a great achievement and what a wonderful outcome for these truly delightful young people.  Our students are studying everything from health to engineering to teaching to creative arts.  They are putting themselves in a position to shape the world of the future.

And, in great news, we have had the lowest unemployment in the history of our school, with only 6.8 per cent of students in this category.  Youth unemployment is an often-hidden problem of much higher numbers than anyone cares to report, but not so with our Coolum High students.  These are active and engaged young men and women who want to make a contribution to their society.

Coolum High also had a very pleasing 8 per cent of students entering apprenticeships and a further 5.7 per cent of students completing VET certificates.  These students enter a vibrant economy as southeast Queensland recovers from a COVID-affected economy, and begins preparing for the 2032 Olympics.  All students on this pathway have a future that is exceptionally bright.

While the world has its issues, there has never been a better time to be young and to be finding your own place in the world.  It’s truly wonderful to know that so many Coolum High students are making great choices and that our community is nurturing talented young people who are in a position to choose an exciting chapter in their lives at the end of school.

6th October 2021

It’s grand final fever, with the Penrith Panthers taking out the NRL title at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.  What a great story of a group of talented young people brought together from a young age to develop their talents, who have grown into a tightly connected team of friends.  The Panthers bring hope to a huge number of people living in the sprawling western suburbs of Sydney and, in winning, created a special experience that will travel with them for a lifetime.

Similarly, our Year 12 students are facing their own grand final with exams taking place from Friday, October 22.  The exams make up 50 per cent of Maths and Science subjects and 25 per cent of the result in all other subjects.  They are, like a grand final, very important to a students’ final ATAR result.

Coolum High’s students are a bit like the Penrith Panthers.  They were brought together young, they have forged strong bonds, they are committed and diligent and now is their time to shine.  We believe in them, and we hope that our whole community believes in them as well.  Like footballers who have to “play the full 80 minutes,” our students need to maintain their concentration and discipline right to the end.  I would challenge most of us in the community to complete the complex questions and equations being asked of these young men and women!

The challenge of the finals is upon us.  No doubt, the Jacarandas (the student’s warning) are starting to bloom.  The referee is about to signal time on.  Let’s get behind the students of Coolum and Peregian as they give their everything to face the biggest exams and challenge of their young lives.

15th September 2021

Last night at Coolum State High School we hosted our annual Celebration of Excellence.  The evening celebrates Coolum’s highest achievers in academics, sport and cultural pursuits.  This year’s Celebration showcased more award winners than ever before, demonstrating the increasing excellence that exists across our school.  And, this wasn’t just by a few – there were FAR MORE gold and silver academic award winners than there has ever been demonstrating what we know – that more students are acting with more self-belief than ever before.

It’s as we know – all research shows that the key to students’ success, more than any other factor, is their self-belief.  Once students believe in themselves, they can achieve things – whether that be in music, in sport, or in the classroom.  The first and greatest key is to lift students’ self-belief and from this everything flows.

If anything, Celebration of Excellence is a celebration of the true believers; of those who persisted in the face of adversity, who showed resilience when faced with a challenge, who didn’t turn away and stop when things got hard but rolled up their sleeves and embraced action.  After all, it is the ones in the arena that make all the difference.

After a night of such excellence and such celebration, I would like to single out the inaugural winner of the school’s highest award on the evening, the Wandama Award, for special mention.  Kai Weith is a young man who has shown phenomenal dedication to his studies and to learning.  Kai has shown special determination to emerge, in a very strong year level, as the highest year 12 academic achiever at the time of the Celebration of Excellence in 2021.  Kai is as Coolum as Point Perry, unafraid to express his personal opinions, and will no doubt achieve many things through his individual commitment to excellence.  That’s right, Coolum, with young people like these we have so much of which we should be proud!

8th September 2021

There’s a spring in everyone’s step.  With the weather gradually warming up, so too is everything that is good at Coolum State High School.

Significantly, our senior ATAR-eligible students are preparing for their final exams.  The rush of nervous energy, revisiting and revising old work, second-guessing the examiners and rehearsing a range of scenarios is in full swing.  Wouldn’t it be great to know what we learn later on at that tender age – that these young people have the world at their feet and islands of opportunity in front of them if they know how to access it!

Our cheerleaders performed again at the Gold Coast on the weekend.  Superbly trained, unbelievably fit and synchronised to perfection, these athletes deserve a wider audience than they receive sometimes.  I defy anyone to watch them in action and not be awed by what they see.  They are superb ambassadors for Coolum with a huge reputation in the cheerleading world.

Coolum High’s basketball teams are slam-dunking goals everywhere, with expert coaching and sublime skills.  With the Australian men’s basketball team recently inspired by the legendary Patty Mills to their first Olympic medal, basketball is riding a high across the country.

And, Coolum High’s own water polo team is making a mark in the pool, building a platform to take out some established schools in this sport in coming seasons.  One thing is for sure, if Coolum High focuses on something we soon see that our students can achieve at some pretty high levels at whatever they choose to do.

The weather is warmer, the flowers are blooming and there is a spring in everyone’s step.  Look out world, Coolum High’s students are leading the way in showcasing our talented community.  These are exciting times!

1st September 2021

Can you believe it?  Coolum State High School has broken all records with the number of students receiving awards for this year’s Celebration of Excellence, our premier awards evening.  The number of students receiving gold and silver academic awards is greater than it has ever been, reflecting the hard work of students and staff.

In year 12, this is especially evident.  This group have worked overtime to position themselves for success at school and beyond, and this shows in standout gold and silver award numbers and the sheer quality of the results achieved.  Year 12 is, in many ways, the “business end” of the school journey where important decisions are made and independent life pathways, beyond “you have to go to school,” begin!

Unfortunately, due to the ever-changing COVID landscape and the NRL occupancy of Twin Waters, our awards this year have been forced to be a live-streamed event.  Parents are such an important part of this process, so the decision to be live-streamed only was an extraordinarily difficult one to make, so we are more determined than ever that the ceremony is the best one yet.

There is one change to the evening.  The School Dux award will not be presented at the Celebration of Excellence as under the new ATAR system, students sit exams worth either 50 or 25 percent of their results at the end of the school year that are marked externally, and these results are needed to accurately identify the Dux (the school’s highest academic performer).  The Dux will be invited to attend a formal presentation next year after all the results have been calculated.  In place of the Dux award, the Wandama award will be presented to the student who has the highest results at the time of the Celebration of Excellence and is set to be the evening’s pinnacle award.  It is truly fitting, given that Wandama is an indigenous word meaning “born, rise, climb” and celebrates our aim of lifting life pathways through the power of education.  There is only one question left – who will be the inaugural winner of the Coolum State High School Wandama Award?

25th August 2021

So, South-East Queensland has won the rights to host the 2032 Olympic Games and the Sunshine Coast has been promised the opportunity to host some of the events.  There is lots of excitement ahead, especially if we can eventually move forward and through the current COVID situation.

What does this mean for our region, our community and our school?  The first thing is hope – something of such incredible magnitude that it gives everyone something to hope for and work towards.  It means regeneration and opportunity.  It will no doubt give those with sporting talent something to strive for; it gives us as a community a purpose to unite for and it gives schoolchildren the opportunity to work towards something they will never forget.

For those of us who were there then, who can forget the 1982 Commonwealth Games?  They reinvented a city and supercharged a new attitude that propelled us to World Expo ’88.  The Olympic Games will undoubtedly have that effect.

For Coolum High, I believe it can help serve as an awakening to our true potential.  Here we are, in one of the most physically attractive places on our planet, while also being at the centre of the Olympic movement as our region prepares for the biggest show on earth.  It is about realising that the world is large and there are many ways to view it, that our students can achieve anything and that we are as capable as anyone, anywhere.  They may seem a way off now, but the 2032 Olympics are also a vehicle for us to invest in sport and community, to be energised and excited by something, and to position ourselves as part of something bigger than ourselves.  I know that there will be students at Coolum High inspired by what the Olympics have to offer!

18th August 2021

There have been a lot of changes to senior schooling in recent years.  Some of them might be well known and some of them mightn’t be known so much.

At Coolum State High School, our year 12s are largely on one of two pathways.  Some of our students, about half, choose an academic pathway leading to an ATAR score.  Last year, Queensland changed from the OP-score system to now be in line with the national ATAR-score model.  Other students in the school choose a vocational program that includes school-based apprenticeships, traineeships and direct-to-work options.  We are proudly a comprehensive school that has a pathway for everyone.

Our greatest goal is to see every single Coolum State High School student pass from school into a future of worth for them by accessing further education, training or employment.  We aim to see our students leading productive and fulfilling lives and making significant contributions to their community.  We see our past students in all walks of life from lawyers and medical specialists to a wide range of trades and occupations.  If you are having a house built or construction work done in our area, chances are you are dealing directly with Coolum High graduates!

As a school, our academic standing continues to grow, and this crop of year 12s promises to be our best ever.  Under the new ATAR system, students sit public exams in Term four that represent 50 per cent of subject grades for Maths and Science subjects; and 25 per cent for all other subjects.  It is a high stakes time for our senior students on the ATAR pathway and between now and these exams they deserve our full support.  At Coolum High, our greatest strength is that there is a pathway for everybody – we are the community’s school and we draw strength from that community.  Let’s get behind our year 12s as they ready themselves for this important and exciting time in their lives!

11th August 2021

It really has been an amazing week with secondary students and staff asked to wear masks to school for the first time.  There’s a lot of ways we could look at this situation, but I know the way I am going to look at it.  I’m going to choose to look at it like a Kenyan runner.

As everyone knows, the Kenyans for many years have dominated middle to long-distance running around the globe.  In magnificent performances at the Tokyo Olympics, Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei brought home gold and silver for Kenya in the Women’s Marathon while Eliud Kipchoge ran a race that almost defied comprehension to win gold in the Men’s Marathon, adding to the wonderful story of Kenyan distance running. 

Many people have tried to understand why this mostly poor country has been able to consistently outperform its well-funded rivals year in and year out.  People who have been inside the Kenyan’s training camp in Kaptagat remark on its simplicity, and the humility of the athletes.  The great Kipchoge, arguably the world’s best current athlete, washes and cleans his own clothes and prefers to be a simple part of the team, rather than the boss.  In greatness, Kipchoge is fully aware that it is through being humble and sincere that he succeeds.

The other aspect noticed powerfully by those who have attended the Kenyans’ training camp is that nothing phases them.  They will train in wind and rain, in burning sunshine, and in freezing winter cold.  If the council closes their training roads, they will simply run in another direction.  Where runners from other countries lose focus if their schedule is changed, the Kenyans simply adapt and train wherever, whenever they can.  So, I take from this that if we take our current situation including wearing masks at school for the first time, and apply the attributes of a Kenyan runner – humility, sincerity and an ability to adapt to pretty much anything – then we will emerge from our experience stronger than ever.  Wearing a mask is a small price to pay to continue the good health and prosperity we enjoy in our lucky country! 

4th August 2021

At the time of writing, we have just moved into a lockdown across South East Queensland that significantly effects the operations of our schools.  Who could ever have imagined students and staff wearing masks to school?

One thing I do know is that we actually do live in the lucky country.  Australia’s experience of coronavirus, while very tragic, is nowhere near the devastation of other countries.  We are so lucky to be able to close our borders and enjoy an absolutely first-rate health system.

There is no doubt that this isn’t ideal for students.  For our year 12s, in particular, this is very disruptive.  However, compared to things past generations have been through before such as world wars, the Great Depression and previous pandemics, we are well placed to face the current challenge with optimism and determination.

The great thing about facing a challenge is that it makes you stronger.  As the saying goes, hard steel is forged in fire.  Coolum High’s students are resilient; they have shown that they are not especially phased by the challenge that we currently face.  I am sure that when things return to what one American President called “normalcy,” we will see that resilient spirit emerge again.  Our current year 12s are currently tracking very well to have bright and bold futures and I have no doubt that, whatever the challenge, they will face that future with strength and dignity.

COVID has come and it has changed the world.  It has brought challenges we never expected and altered the way we see many things.  What it won’t do, unless we let it, is dampen our enthusiasm, lower our sights or make us expect less for the futures of all of our students.  We are facing a challenge, but let’s face it square on and emerge stronger and more confident than ever!

22nd July 2021

It’s gold, Australia, gold!

With the awarding of the Olympics to Brisbane and South-East Queensland we have something that will galvanise us as a community until 2032.  The Olympic ideals of excellence, friendship and respect could hardly be closer to the Coolum High values of care, respect and excellence if they tried. 

The Olympic movement began as a movement for global unity.  It aimed to bring people together in the name of healthy competition to be faster, higher, stronger and while it has had its fair of issues over the years, the unifying nature of hosting the games can’t be underestimated.

In the Olympic Games we have something powerful to inspire the next generation of Coolum High students.  We know our students are talented, we know that they do everything they do in keeping with values that encompass the Olympic ideals, so why not dream that we can develop our own Olympians for our very own Olympic Games.

To get there, we need to push harder than ever before.  We need to ask for the facilities we need, such as a Performance Hall, until we are heard and to upgrade our ovals and grounds.  It’s time to dream big, to shoot for the stars, to believe that Olympic talent lies within our students and just needs the right nurturing to come out.

And in the spirit of Cool Runnings, the famous story of the Jamaican bobsled team, why not try a few things we haven’t tried before because you never know where our talents might lie?  European handball anyone??  These are exciting times and a great time to be in the business of developing our young talent.  With a home Olympics to aim for, we have every reason to shoot for the stars!

15th July 2021

How good is Ash Barty?

What a wonderful role model for humility, honesty and hard work!  The newly crowned Women’s Singles Wimbledon Champion is a wonderful product of Australia, of Queensland and of Queensland public education.

It was so amazing to hear Barty speak of her idol, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, who famously won the Wimbledon title in 1971 and 1980.  How refreshing to hear someone speak so openly and honestly about such a worthy role model and hero!  How fantastic to hear Ash speaking so openly and passionately about wanting to inspire indigenous youth and give purpose and meaning to young lives.

Ash Barty is indeed a role model for all Coolum High students.  In Ash, our students can see what happens if you combine talent with hard work and humility.  They can learn the value of conducting yourself in public with grace, respect and dignity.  They can see in Ash Barty that if you are prepared to dream big enough, you can do it – even on one of the biggest stages our world offer.

Ash Barty is the embodiment of the values of Queensland public education.  A product of Woodcrest State College, Ash is humble and sincere, treats all journalists, interviewers and fans with respect and now mixes with British and tennis royalty.  Ash has committed to a goal and achieved the extraordinary at the young age of 25.

Ash Barty is a hero to a country and is someone our young people can look up to with pride.  She shows that rather than being arrogant and noisy, rather than seeking an armada of insta-followers, it is from humility, persistence and dedication that true results emerge.  Ash Barty is a role model for all of us and a reminder that true values never fail.  Let’s all look to Ash Barty to see the secrets to how success is really achieved and how a true champion conducts themselves!

8th July 2021

Semester Two is about to start and I have no doubt that it will prove to the most successful in Coolum High’s history!

Why am I so sure?  The key reason is because I am privileged to see information about our students before it becomes widely known and I KNOW that our students are doing special things.

They are doing special things because they have staff that care about them, parents who value education and a community prepared to push them up, not bring them down.  Everyone in the Coolum community can and do play a part in shaping our students and giving them the attitudes and attributes of success.

As we “ride the waves” of success and shape our children’s future, all community members can play a part by speaking positively about our students, contacting the school when there are issues and offering students an opportunity in businesses and workplaces about town.  A word of encouragement from an adult can go a very long way in shaping a child’s future!

When students’ success is recognised in any form of media, social or conventional, this is OUR success because it is OUR community.  Each student’s success reflects the work of parents, volunteer sports and community coaches, many years of the work of teachers and school staff and the general optimism of our community.  The children are our legacy and the hope for our world lies in the belief that is placed in them.

So as we prepare to face the next semester and as our lives become set to become impossibly busy once again, let’s remember the power of belief and optimism in our children and the value of a helping hand.  Let’s get set for the best ever semester ahead!

1st July 2021

Three years ago, at Coolum State High School, we set ourselves a goal of being the premier benchmark in education on the Sunshine Coast.  With the results that are emerging from Semester 1, the strength of our music program evidenced every week at our assemblies, and the ongoing achievements of Coolum High students in sport, I believe we are emerging to the point where we can claim that title.

There isn’t enough space in this newspaper to list the subjects at Coolum High that have had 100 per cent of students pass the course this semester.  Many subjects have had more than 50 per cent of students achieve A grades.  Each week, talented students perform at assemblies across a vast range of musical styles that can usually be viewed on the school’s Facebook page.  In sport, individual and team achievements keep streaming through the door highlighted by recent wins in netball, rugby league and chess (yes, chess is definitely a sport at Coolum High!).

Last week, our year 12 students travelled to Brisbane to visit universities and plan bright futures.  The bus driver who took the students on this trip, along with the City Cats host who travelled with them along the Brisbane River, both took the time to contact the school to comment on what a fine bunch of young men and women they were.  Bus driver, Des Deighton, made this comment in relation to the students’ conduct on the excursion:

“I just wanted to say what an impressive group of young women and men they are. They were respectful to me, looked after my coach without leaving a speck of rubbish and had impeccable manners.” 

With students like these, and achievements that are so obvious, I think we can’t be too far off being considered the premier benchmark.  And, what’s more, that Coolum High is just beginning!

17th June 2021

If you can remember back to the weekend just gone, you will remember that the beaches were at their most magnificent.  Our beautiful Pacific Ocean shone and reminded us that, yes, we do live in the best place in the world!

You may also remember that the reason for the long weekend was the Nambour show.  A group of our diverse learner students didn’t forget about the show – instead, they cooked, created and entered their brownies and lamingtons in the show and received first place for their lamingtons and third for their brownies!

It was a great achievement and also a wonderful representation of Coolum High as an inclusive school.  Coolum High was, is and always will be the community’s school and, as such, it represents everyone within our community.  Like our community itself, Coolum High is a place where everyone has the opportunity to shine.  Everyone can achieve at Coolum High and what we know is that, given the right opportunity, all of our students will excel.

It is so important that we cater for everyone in our community as communities are diverse; there are many different people and they all lead different lives; each person has their own talents and their own gifts to give and it’s only when we embrace everyone that we can truly receive all of these gifts.  Yep, I can safely say that I am pretty proud of everyone at Coolum High who works to create an environment of inclusion at our school and equally proud of the support our students receive within our community.

10th June 2021

Why do we love State-of-Origin so much?  For me, it’s the physical commitment of the players.  The courage and endurance and the incredible sense of teamwork and camaraderie, they are lessons we can take into life and into our interactions with people everywhere.  Over the years we have seen the most incredible feats of teamwork and courage; of victories snatched from the jaws of defeat; of what can happen when a genuine team works relentlessly in the pursuit of a common goal.  Who could forget Mark Coyne’s try in the dying stages of that famous win, at the end of a 70-metre movement that began with a dream and some desperation.  They weren’t near the tryline, but they would find a way to get there!  Billy Moore summed it up with his famous “Queenslander” call, a call to arms that reminded players of who they were, what they were playing for, and what those before them had achieved through mateship and tenacity.

There is so much we can learn about schools and about life from State-of-Origin.  The first and most important of these is that the champion team wins every time.  If every single person works with everything they have in the direction of a common goal, then victories that seemed impossible begin to happen.  And they don’t just happen once, they happen over and over again.

It’s also about rising to the challenge.  When the challenge excites us and doesn’t overwhelm us, when those around us encourage us to see the possibilities in the seemingly impossible, we can face tests and achieve; we can set our goals high and work without hesitation to achieve them; we can know that anyone who achieved anything is just a person who had a dream and some belief.  We can know that the next Prime Minister, the next global entrepreneur, the next change leader can come from Coolum High supported by a community that will never let them down.  If we work together like a State-of-Origin team works together to support our students, they can achieve anything!  I’d like to think that Billy More would agree!

3rd June 2021

Last week I had the privilege of going to the Queensland Secondary Principals Association annual conference in Brisbane.  On the first morning of the conference, Coolum High’s amazingly talented performers sang for the Principals gathered from across Queensland.  To say they were superb is an understatement.  Brianna, Callum, Keely, Sequoya and Ziah showcased to our state the outstanding standard of music at Coolum State High School and were the talk of the conference.  As a community, we can be so proud of these students!

Being in an environment such as this is warm and liberating, sharing with others the nearly impossible-at-times complexity of leading high schools in the modern context.  At the conference dinner, some outstanding educational leaders received awards in recognition of their accomplishments and service to the Association.  Each of these leaders spoke of the students; of the love they have for their work; and of a deeply rewarding role far-removed from the sensationalism and league tables of the mainstream media’s reporting on education.  They spoke of young people with hope and optimism, recalling generations of students who have made our state great.  Not one spoke of problems; they spoke of opportunities!

One Principal awarded special recognition was Darrin Edwards, substantively Principal of Mountain Creek State High School and currently acting as Project Officer-Leadership Capability Development and Well-being-North Coast Region.  Not only has Darrin been an outstanding leader over many years at James Nash and Mountain Creek State High Schools in our region, Darrin has also been a personal mentor that I respect and admire greatly.  To see Darrin receive a fitting honour was a wonderful gesture for someone who has given their life to the service of public education in Queensland.  It was wonderful to see that in a world that prefers to share stories of doom over stories of success; that prefers to push young people into being numbers and statistics rather than showcase them in all their breadth and magnificence; that there are still people who speak with an optimism and positivity about our students and our future that is truly contagious.  Yep, it was truly wonderful to hear from inspirational educators like Darrin Edwards!

27th May 2021

Coolum State High School is making music.  In fact, Coolum High students are recording their own music with some of the leading music producers in Australia.  I just can’t wait until everyone can hear the outcomes of this process – it’s simply amazing!  One of the producers the students are working with is the drummer for successful Australian band, Eskimo Joe.

So, what leads us to this point where students in our community are able to make such special music with such special people?  It starts with talent.  It’s incredible what happens when the talents of young people are nurtured and set free.  Young people are blessed with so much talent, it sometimes just takes a little opportunity to expose a lot of ability.  We are blessed with such talented students at Coolum High!

The next ingredient is highly committed staff.  Coolum High’s music staff have worked unbelievably hard to provide students with the chance to record their music with leading industry figures.  Careful networking, planning and precise organisation has led to our students being able to record their music.  Behind the scenes, teachers have given up endless hours of their own time to develop and grow each student’s talents and gradually shape their musical gifts.

The last part of the puzzle is the confidence that comes from live performance.  Many of our student musicians have developed their abilities by performing at school assemblies and feeling the rush of a live audience.  Nurtured by quality teachers, enriched by live performance experience and blessed with an abundance of talent, our students have recorded music tracks that are, to put it simply, superb.  Stay tuned Coolum – we can all be very proud of what our students have produced.

20th May 2021

Coolum High is about to get a security fence.  It represents yet another change and another development in the growth of Coolum High as a major community asset.

The security fence will keep students, staff and government assets much safer.  It means that the new 20-classroom superstructure to be completed by 2023 will be far more secure, as will the recently opened Wandama Centre at the front of the school.  It means our more than 1400 students and 120 staff will be much safer each and every day.

Change can be a bit confronting and unsettling sometimes.  For long term residents it will also represent change from the way things have been and that can be hard at times.  However, as much as we’d like things to stay the same, they never do, and change is the only constant.  Heck, when I first came to Coolum there was no Woolies and no Coles and only an overworked IGA near where Coles stands today!  As a community we’ve changed, and no doubt there is more change to come.

What the fence does stand for is safety.  In a complex and fluctuating world, our students and staff will be much safer and more secure with our new fence – even if it does mean that things have changed along with the times.  It means that the government assets that keep growing on our site will be more secure.  It means that our future will keep growing, our opportunities will continue to rise, and our school will continue to be a leader within the educational community.  Change is difficult, but nothing ever stays the same!

13th May 2021

Schools are in the news.  In fact, schools are always in the news!  Every week it seems the Courier Mail finds more data to make more stories about schools.  And, if there’s a piece of information on schools that isn’t made public, that’s a story too!  At least it means people are vitally interested in education and want to know that our schools are doing well.

Last week, the Courier Mail published a piece of information that showed that Coolum High has grown by 52 per cent in the last five years.  That put it in the top handful of schools state-wide (apart from brand new schools) and made it the fastest growing high school on the coast.  It’s further testament to the growth in our area and the confidence in Coolum High to deliver.

So, what does this mean for the future?  The first answer is better facilities.  The building program at the school continues at a pace including the two new two-storey buildings already opened, and the new twenty-classroom building we are in the process of planning.  The second answer is more options.  This includes new subjects and new and varied extra-curricular activities that span options from yoga to box-fit and from art club to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Most importantly, it means that the students of Coolum and Peregian have a strong and vibrant school that offers everything a school can offer.  It means that our young people have a bright future, with a first-rate education in a beautiful community.  What else could you ask for?

6th May 2021

Well, with the growth in our community and the spirit of optimism in our school, the building program is in overdrive at Coolum High.  Did you know that a brand new, twenty classroom building is currently being planned, to be placed on our current tennis and basketball courts?  That’s right – twenty classrooms!  The building will be a mix of music classrooms, science laboratories, design labs and general teaching areas.  It’s a vibrant and multi-faceted building for a vibrant and multi-talented school.

But this building is only the beginning.  Before too long, the last four classrooms of our signature “Wandama” building at the front of the school will be built in the building’s undercroft.  This will finalise what is a state-of-the art centre that houses science laboratories, science labs and a Health Hub that is beacon of confidence and is building positive futures for so many students.

Very soon, the Performing Arts building will have its whole roof replaced.  This will help significantly, especially when it rains!  It’s further support for the growth of music in our school.

And….. our Admin building is also set to be expanded to reflect that large, growing and dynamic school that we are today.  All of this building activity is testament to the growth and vibrancy of our area and shows that we have a future that is bright and certain.  Coolum High has a brilliant future ahead of it, with strong support from government and with the confidence of our community.  The new infrastructure will no doubt educate thousands of students over many years and launch countless brilliant careers!

29th April 2021

Community members who were at the ANZAC dawn service at the Coolum-Peregian RSL couldn’t have missed Coolum High students, either as members of the Coolum Voices choir or the reverent speeches delivered by school captains Ethan Irvine and Charlotte Luck.

The respectfulness of today’s young people shows the enduring significance of ANZAC Day and how the values and significance are passed on from generation to generation.  What always amazes me in reflecting on the ANZACs and on Australians who have served in all theatres of war is that so many were no older than the students in Coolum High’s classrooms.  Boys as young as 14, 15, 16 and 17 enlisted and served – fuelled by a thirst for adventure and a desire to do what they believed to be right for their country.  Many of today’s Year 10 students would have trained and fought if the same conditions applied now.  Some would have died!

It makes us reflect on how fortunate we are to live in the most beautiful part of this amazing country.  Peacetime is precious and we should never take it for granted.  Our students can go to school to learn, play sport, make music and participate in a wide array of school activities.  They don’t have to consider if they want to go and serve in a war.

In many ways, getting up at dawn and honouring those who served and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice is a small thing to do.  Reflecting on the youth of many of those involved is especially poignant.  Our country is built upon the courage and resilience of our youth.   

It was fantastic to see so many community members sharing their respects at the dawn service.  I am sure we will see everyone again next year.

22nd April 2021

Coolum State High School has burst out of the blocks into Term Two, with more Clubs, Academies, Sports and Tutorials (CAST) activities than ever before.  There is something for everyone at Coolum High.  In fact, there is so much going on it’s hard to keep up.

Firstly, there are the Academy programs where we are committed to achieving excellence in Basketball, Cheerleading, Surfing, Instrumental Music and Entrepreneurialism, as well as Development Academies in AFL and Netball.

However, it’s in the CAST program where we find some things that might surprise people.  It’s here that we find activities including Lego Club, Yoga, Hebel Sculpture, Coding Club and Zen Zone just to name a few.  Added to that we have Art Club and Tap Dance, Rock Band, Table Tennis and Box-fit.  And…. these are just some of the activities on offer.  The list goes on and on.

Coolum High is committed not only to academic success, but to creating an experience where everyone feels valued; a place that is more than a school but a community and where everyone can find belonging and purpose.  I am so proud of the staff who have given up their time to take these activities, and the students who participate in them.  It is part of what makes our community and our school so special.

On a final note, this week we prepare for our school’s ANZAC Day ceremony and the school’s contribution to the dawn service held at the Coolum-Peregian RSL.  It always amazes me that many of the brave young men and women who left our shores to defend our values and way of life were no older than Coolum High’s students.  They could have been sitting in our classrooms!  ANZAC Day is a powerful reminder of the courage and significance of young people and the role they can play in our hour of need.  I have no doubt that, if called, today’s young people would respond in the way that young Australian men and women have responded in the past – heroically.  It is so important to learn about and honour the sacrifices that past generations have made so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today.  Lest we forget.

1st April 2021

Can you believe it’s Easter?  A quarter of the school year has already gone by.  At the front of our school is a sign that says “2021 – It’s the Year!”  Well, it couldn’t be more true.  It’s a great year as we rebound from the COVID-disrupted school year of 2020.

What does a COVID-rebound year look like?  Firstly, it looks like students participating in the broadest range of activities from the wind symphony to robotics academy, from AFL to Art club, from box-fit to chess and from netball to cheerleading.  In short, Coolum High is a hive of activity with there is literally something for everyone.

The state government has set a goal of “every student succeeding,” and you can see that everywhere at Coolum High.  From students who haven’t yet dropped a mark in complex subjects like Specialist Maths to students receiving skilled and targeted support through specialised focus classes – there are students succeeding right across our school.

On Mondays, the school looks fantastic when all students wear the white formal uniform for which we are becoming known across the community.  The musical performances on our assemblies just keep on getting better, especially with the addition of the senior Music Extension subject.  So in the complexity of our world today, as we face up to a not-yet-over pandemic, when education is more important for young people than it ever has been, we can see how students are responding with their commitment, their energies and their talents – they are succeeding in ways we may never have anticipated.  We are one quarter down, but we’re only just getting started!

25th March 2021

The Brisbane Broncos failed again – unfortunately.  I used to love seeing the Broncos play that attacking style of league when Alfie Langer was at the helm.  Later on, Darren Lockyer took over and we saw it at the Storm with Cameron Smith.  What I am talking about, is that indefinable, but impossible to win without quality – leadership.  To me, it is so obviously lacking at the Broncos at the moment, and so needed in the key moments in the heat of battle.

It wasn’t lacking at Coolum High, though, last week when school captain, Charlotte Luck, took it upon herself to organise the inaugural Student Leader Forum, inviting the leaders of Sunshine Beach and Noosa District State High Schools to a symposium at our school designed to discuss that key topic of leadership.  The students involved were intelligent and engaging, humble enough to know they have more to learn, yet courageous enough to stand up and be prepared to lead their school communities.  They were, in short, inspiring!

In my experience, young people today are engaged and determined.  They know our world has complex challenges like climate change to conquer, a pandemic that isn’t yet over, and social problems that haven’t been resolved, and yet they face these challenges with optimism and idealism.  Charlotte’s actions also show that this year’s leaders have no shortage of ideas, no willingness to be ordinary and no chance of fading away without having made their mark.  They have their sleeves rolled up and are ready to dig in and have a real go at leading their school and their community to a brighter future – they know that 2021 is their year.  Maybe they could get together with some of the Broncos and think of some new ideas!

18th March 2021

Who is the best Australian band of all time?  Is it INXS or Midnight Oil?  ACDC or Cold Chisel?  The Divinyls or the BeeGees?  Well, I’m not sure if anyone can really answer this question, but what I do know is that the NEXT big Australian band could well come from Coolum High.

That is because music is everywhere at the moment, including rock, pop, classical and jazz.  Every lunchtime, if you happen to pass the Performing Arts block, you will hear students working on covers of well-known songs, and creating their own original music.  In Year 12, our ‘Music Extension’ students can blow you away with their arrangements of songs you’ve heard your whole life, while also creating their own compositions.

For me, music sits at the centre of a great school.  I’m not sure I can fully explain why, but I think it starts with the fact that, as people, we are more than facts and figures; we are greater than rules and algorithms.  As people, we also have a rhythm, we have thoughts and emotions to share, we have stories to communicate, we like to dance and express ourselves in energetic ways – some people have a desire to be on stage and feel the rush of live performance.  Music is exciting and brave – every student who performs on one of our assemblies is unbelievably courageous.  Every culture loves music, and different cultures around the world bring a different sound to their stories and to their dreams and ideas.

So, I’m not sure who IS the best Australian band of all time but I do know how proud I am of our student musicians as they pursue their own ambitions, and I’m pretty sure that we haven’t heard anything yet.  I strongly believe that the best is yet to come!

To check out some of Coolum High’s amazing musical and vocal performances head over to their FaceBook page and look for their assembly videos

11th March 2021

THE US presidential candidate from 1920, Warren G Harding once campaigned on a platform of a “return to normalcy.” While we might use the word “normality” as accepted English today, the phrase has its uses now as we, hopefully, begin to emerge from the COVID era.

So, what does this mean for us at Coolum High?  Firstly, it means that sport can return to normal and we can participate in all the competitions that we enjoy, offering a world of opportunity for our students.  It means that we can prepare our music under normal conditions, allowing for the continued growth of all our music programs including the celebrated Wind Symphony.  It means we can begin planning the trips and excursions that support our educational and extra-curricular programs.

Of course, we have to be careful and there is much water to pass under the bridge.  But it will be wonderful to plan as normal for a full and rich program of education and extra-curricular activities, and start to build again on some of the ambitious programs we had in place.  Before the pandemic struck, some Coolum High students were booked and ready to go to NASA.  The Cheerleading Academy had travelled to and succeeded in Las Vegas.  Instrumental Music students had travelled to Melbourne.  We have big plans and bold ambitions for our students and as the world allows, we are hopeful of continuing these strides to create more opportunity for our students. 

One thing is for sure – whatever happens, we will be doing whatever it takes to provide opportunity for our students, to allow them to develop the self-belief that will shape their character and their future.  As, hopefully, we can begin the journey into “normalcy”, we are looking forward to creating more and more opportunities for our students to shine.

4th March 2021

As you walk into Coolum State High School, you will see a large sign that says “2021, It’s the Year!”  There are so many reasons why it is the year but a major one is the sheer quality of student leaders that we have in the school this year. 

Last week at Coolum High, our senior leaders were inducted and given their badges of office.  School captains, Ethan Irvine and Charlotte Luck, are young people of the highest calibre, and I know they will do the school proud.  The whole school community are raving about them.  When you meet young adults with manners, poise, intelligence and regard for the wellbeing of others, you just know you are seeing someone who will become successful in life.

Vice captains, Tom Oxley and Ziah Harvey, are the same.  Their qualities can’t be overstated.  Added to that, this year’s indigenous, music and sports captains, along with the chairs of our Student Council add a wonderful breadth of quality and personality to the school’s student leadership group.

I have long thought that everything good and bad in our world is the product of leadership.  Leadership is hard; it takes courage and character, resilience, resourcefulness, inspiration and determination in large measure.  For these students to commit themselves to growing as leaders shows the quality of them as young people.  To earn the honour of leading their school, these students made speeches to their fellow students and to their teachers and were voted on by both groups, before undergoing a rigorous interview process – now that takes courage.  With students like these taking up the reins, I know that in 2021, at Coolum High, it will be a great year!

25th February 2021

Facebook has been in the news this week after banning Australian news content and inadvertently taking down government and community sites that people rely on for important messages.  It brought an instant backlash against Facebook, after what appeared to be a snap decision for which no-one was prepared.

The decision to ban news from Facebook’s platform certainly put “big tech” in the spotlight.  I know I certainly have my concerns, especially at the way social media is allowed to be used by children to create an extremely unhealthy environment in which cyber bullying thrives unchallenged, while the tech companies creating the platforms that allow it to happen reap billions.  The whole situation makes me uncomfortable.

You see, for me, after working with them every day I know that our teenagers, while appearing full of bravado, are deeply vulnerable.  They don’t deserve to be pawns in an impossibly profitable game, while their mental health and their sense of self is attacked mercilessly.  Yes, as parents we have a role, but it’s a role our own parents never had to fill.  If there were more checks and balances around the tech companies themselves, more regulations to support children – parents wouldn’t have to feel as if they need to monitor their child’s every action when they are online.

Facebook has shown that it doesn’t seem to believe that it can be controlled by rules.  It doesn’t appear to have a conscience around the content that appears on its platforms.  It certainly doesn’t believe it’s a publisher in the way that a newspaper is a publisher and it has shown it will fight all the way to keep things this way.  I just wish there was more that we could do, that more was being done, to protect children from the harm that occurs on social media and that today’s children didn’t have to navigate this unchartered world on their own.   Maybe one day this world will be regulated and we won’t see the harm we see that is being done in this unregulated space because our children deserve to have their childhood free from bullying and abuse.

18th February 2021

Coolum High is an inclusive school; a place where all students are welcome and valued and where our aim is to see all young people succeed.  It’s so important to our future that every young person accesses a great education.  I believe that education is the backbone of our nation; that students who learn to love learning are the ones who shape the future, who find cures for diseases (don’t we value that right now), who can right wrongs and become leaders, and who can use science and emerging technologies to do things we don’t even know are possible right now.

Just think of our mobile phones.  I remember watching the comedy show, Get Smart, and Agent Maxwell Smart had a ‘shoe phone’ that was meant as a joke about James Bond style technologies.  I had always thought that to have a phone you needed phone lines.  Now we all walk around with a phone in our hands that isn’t just a phone but a powerful computer capable of accessing the worldwide web.  That all came about because of some seriously smart and well-educated people.  And, to think it all starts with curiosity and a willingness to learn.

As for inclusion – it’s about valuing everyone for who they are and what they bring.  It’s about people who may seem ‘different’ but through whose eyes we can learn to see things in different, new and special ways.  When we educate everyone, when we value what they bring, even more special things become possible.  As a wise person said, “what if the cure for cancer lies inside the mind of someone who doesn’t have the education to realise their idea?”  We could add, “what if the cure for cancer meant listening to everyone and educating everyone, until someone says something in a way that we understand?”  Albert Einstein didn’t master conventional education, he mastered ideas that were powerful and innovative and barrier-breaking.  It’s by being inclusive that we value those who bring something different to our world.  Child eco-warrior Greta Thunberg described autism as her “superpower.”  It’s by being inclusive that everyone’s superpower can shine, and we can see the world in new ways.   It’s hard to think of anything as important as an education for everybody.

11th February 2021

Can you believe the power of music?  I don’t know what it is, I can’t define it, but I do know that music does so many amazing and powerful things for a school.

The first thing it does is bring people together.  While you can play solo, generally music is made in groups – it’s produced by bands, ensembles, symphony groups and giant orchestras.  Music is a way ideas and feelings can be passed from one generation to the next.  I think I can understand what the anti-Vietnam protestors of the late sixties were feeling by listening to their music.

In schools, music takes a special place.  I know that students who participate in music achieve more highly in their studies.  I don’t need another research presentation to show me that – I have observed it for years.  There is no doubt that students who “do” music, also achieve well at whatever else they undertake.  It appears that there is an undeniable link between music and learning.

It’s for these reasons and many more that music takes a central place at Coolum High.  From our award-winning Wind Symphony to embryonic rock bands, Coolum High is growing and nurturing its music programs to allow more and more students to reap the benefits of an education enriched by music.  2021 promises to be an amazing year in the continued growth of music in our school.  I’m hoping that as the year rolls out our community can hear more of the fantastic music being made by students across our school.  I can’t wait to hear more of it!

4th February 2021

Coolum is changing at breakneck speed, having been “discovered” by southerners and even those from overseas.  By all accounts, Coolum has been one of the top places searched by people doing real estate internet searches from foreign locations.  Of course, we all know why.  With the outstanding quality of our beaches and a village-like community, there is every reason to want to be here.

Yet, it wasn’t that long ago that things were very different.  Francis Windolf’s story in the last Advertiser explaining how the Coolum State School was literally moved “on the back of a truck” to its current location was a cracker.  It shows that stark contrast between then and now and how quickly things have moved forward.

Our job, at Coolum High, is to stay ahead of this change, and to show the community that we have the school that can be at the centre of this change and development.  Our Health Hub has been a major part of this process, with Health being the growth industry of our time.  The school’s two new Design studios allow students to explore design ideas in the digital world and then make them in the physical world through the school’s high-tech 3-D printer and laser cutter.  If you give our young people scope to be creative the possibilities are endless.

I have no doubt that Coolum High is moving in the direction of the future – that the local educational landscape that changed shape so dramatically when a truck literally moved the primary school forever has evolved to a cutting-edged environment that leads students towards a future full of promise and purpose.  We are looking forward to playing a central role in the evolution of our community into a vibrant 21st Century destination.

28th January 2021

Is there anything as Coolum as Charlie Caulfield?  Not much, I’d say.  Isabella Nichols perhaps – lots of people in the community are already proud of what Isabella has achieved.  Mark “Sid” Sidaway maybe, but Sid doesn’t live here anymore.

So, who is Charlie Caulfield I can hear some people saying?  Well, if you go down behind the RSL there’s a magnificent, lush green oval with a synthetic cricket pitch in the middle that is well-loved and well-used by our community.  The oval is called the Caulfield-Chambers oval, which means that Charlie Caulfield has had an oval named after him in his lifetime.   At least half an oval anyway.  But which half?

For me, it has to always be the half where Charlie is fielding in gully.  Sixty-plus years old with a mind as sharp as a razor blade and wise-cracking after each delivery and still managing to catch super reflex catches as if it was 1983.  The legs may not work as well, but the mind and the catching hands work like a Swiss watch!

Like so many in Coolum, Charlie wasn’t born here.  He spent his formative years in Tasmania, a graduate of New Town High School no less, before heading north to find his piece of paradise right here in Coolum Beach.  To his surprise, Charlie found that his beachside paradise didn’t have a cricket club, so he set about laying the groundwork for the thriving club that now plays in juniors and seniors right through to the A-division.

In many ways, Charlie’s is the quintessential Coolum story.  He came to balance life with lifestyle, he made friends and never took himself too seriously, he paid his dues and played a game we all love and in the process he won the respect of his peers and his community.  And he stayed humble and modest the whole time to boot!  As Coolum grows and changes and gets busier by the minute, we’d do well to remember the humour and humility of the people who shaped our unique place.  Yep, there’s not much that says ‘Coolum’ quite like Charlie Caulfield.

21st January 2021

It’s that time of year again.  New uniforms are racing off the shelves.  Shoes, still in perfect condition (every parent knows how long that will last), are being measured, checked and sold by the container load.  Yes, it’s the back-to-school rush and, for our incoming Year 7s, it represents that exciting time where you “start high school” and a new and unforgettable journey begins.

As adults, we sometimes don’t remember the intensity of youth.  Starting high school is a big thing – there are so many stories (some apocryphal) of everything that will happen at high school.  You have been the biggest of the little kids, but suddenly you are the smallest of the big kids.  Whereas in primary school you would have belted out the national anthem with gusto on parade, in high school you have to look around and give a tentative squeak and, best of all, pretend you don’t know the words to a song that you have been singing since Prep.

High school is such an intense journey of change – physically and mentally.  The complex equations of senior Maths subjects are still a world away for the student at the beginning of Year 7 who is more interested in where to line up for tuckshop.  The development of a human being through the teenage years is still a marvel and, as adults, we can never truly remember what is going on through the eyes and the mind of a teenager.  It’s a journey of discovery, of becoming more self-aware, of learning, of making friends that will travel with us for life.  And, for the Year 7s of 2021, who will graduate in 2026, it is just beginning.  Let’s get started!

14th January 2021

Coolum and Peregian have an energy about them now that will never go backwards.  Over the summer, our community was filled to the brim with holidaymakers and day trippers; parking was at a premium, cafes were heaving and the beaches were flooded and filled with the happy noise of contented tourists.

It’s the same at Coolum High.  With the new Wandama Centre at the front of the school standing as a symbol of our growing maturity and confidence, we know that there is no going backwards.  In fact, we know that in 2021, it’s the year!

2020 was a year of adaptation when schools closed for the first time in generations, but in 2021 we are well positioned to lead the fight back.  Our music programs are ready to flourish, our sports teams are chomping at the bit to get cracking and our academic programs have a new maturity to assertively embrace changes to Queensland’s education system.

We believe that Coolum High, along with our colleagues at Coolum State School and Peregian Springs State School, are at the centre of the surge in our community towards a new and confident place that is ready to embrace the challenges of the future.  Education always leads the way and in 2021 that is more important than ever.

As Australia shows incredible resilience in the face of unprecedented turmoil overseas, our community remains as a beacon of friendliness, environmental awareness and community spirit.  We have an incredible opportunity in front of us, and it’s time to get started because in 2021, it’s the year!