In a class of their own

northcote high

In a twisted sort of way there is comfort in the news on the front page of Melbourne’s Herald Sun (paywalled, so don’t bother) which today relates the shocking story, with embedded phone-cam video, of high school thugs beating the daylights out of an autistic fellow student. It goes without saying that the attackers need a stiff dose of judicial attention, with the remote prospect of a spell in reform school amid careerist teenage brutes from less fashionable suburbs particularly appealing. Poetic justice, you know, that sort of thing. In the meantime, parents less inclined to put a spotlight on their own presumed virtue will be reassured that public preening is no guarantee against spawning broods of rotten and violent little buggers.

Not that incarceration is in the books for the bash artists, who hail from Northcote High School in the heart of Melbourne’s inner city Greens Belt, where students sally forth from behind the Goat Cheese Curtain to enjoy excursions to China, New York and Athens.  Such well-heeled parents can afford good lawyers to make family embarrassments go away, allowing them to focus on encouraging their better-behaved children to combat the greater threats to civilised life of coal, sexism, racism, homophobia, and a freeway tunnel that, had the Labor government of Premier Daniel Andrews not scrapped it at a cost of more than a billion dollars, would have have taken thousands of cars and trucks every day off local streets. Goody-goody greenie two-shoe student activists, led by the school’s “environment captain”, turned out in force to oppose that very good idea.

At least they were peaceful, unlike former Northcote High student Adam Dahman, who blew himself up in Iraq to further the cause of Allah and took five innocent victims with him. One can only assume Dahman was an active participant in class discussions about the curse of Islamophobia.

To get the full picture of just what sort of a place is Northcote High School and the kind of parents who send their kids there, look at its polling station results for the recent Batman byelection: Greens candidate Alex Bhathal out-polled her Labor opponent Ged Kearney by almost two-to-one, while the Australian Conservatives standard-bearer collected a scant 28 votes out of 1142 cast, barely beating the vegan ratbaggery of the Animal Justice Party’s candidate.

Apparently (oh, irony!), a school that never hesitates to billboard its boundless compassion and acceptance for all and sundry needs to do some work on its own students’ consideration for others — and perhaps, also, to give thought in future to the scheduling of public events. Tonight, for example, Northcote High is hosting another in its series of literary gabfests, hosted as usual by author, LaTrobe academic and Northcote High mum Clare Wright.

The topic: “Writing Violence”, featuring Helen Garner, Andy Griffiths, Sofie Laguna and Jock Serong. Up until about 10am this morning, a promo for the event occupied pride of place on the school’s website, but that plug has now, perhaps understandably, been made to vanish from public view. The tickets are a mere $20 if you would like to go along and pose a question to Ms Wright, her visiting authors and any teachers in attendance.

In view of this morning’s news reports, raising the topic of modern education and whitened sepulchres might prompt some interesting responses.

Northcote High’s website can be viewed via this link or the one below.

— roger franklin

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