Celebrating the past, looking forward to the future

Celebrating the past, looking forward to the future
Chris Zilm

CHRISTOPHER Zilm may have only been principal of Cairns State High School for 12 months, but already he reckons he’s the luckiest bloke in the world.

In a career spanning 30 years, the veteran educator is honoured to be part of the school’s centenary celebrations and excited about what the future holds.

“The history of Cairns High is really the history of Cairns,” says Christopher.

“With our centenary, we’ve got an opportunity to look back on the history of the school and we’re bringing a lot of old staff and students back for a trip down memory lane. But it’s also an excellent opportunity to decide where we’re heading and what we want to do.

“It’s been a year of so many highs and that’s been fantastic because the students at this school just never stop amazing you.”

With more than 1600 students and 160 staff, Christopher says Cairns State High is “future-proofing” the city’s next generation of leaders with a focus on academic and extra-curricular excellence.

Programs and activities such as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, languages, performing and visual arts and music have opened up a range of pathways for students – an initiative driven by former
long-serving principal Bernie MacKenzie.

The school has even established a partnership with Advance Cairns, aimed at giving young people a voice in the future economic and infrastructure development of the city.

“My job now is to keep that going and adapt it to the modern age,” Christopher explains.

“We want to make sure our young people are ready for anything that happens in the modern world, which is fast-paced and changing.
“In a big school you want to make sure you have the systems in place that support individual growth and development.”

As the 18th principal to serve the school, Christopher is all too aware of the importance of Cairns State High’s values of excellence, respect, responsibility and resilience as his students prepare to take on the world.

“Our vision statement is to be the best we can be.
It underpins everything we stand for,” he says.

“It’s an exciting future.”