In the lead up to the College's 50th Anniversary, Anne Hunt, our Foundation Co-ordinator, has been writing a series of articles for the local paper. In case you haven't spotted them in The Ensign, or if you live out of town, we'll be sharing them with here on our Foundation Blog. This is the fifth and final article.
Half a Century on...
In 1969, Father Lance Hurdidge, an English priest from Huddersfield, became the first of eight principals of St Peter’s College. His staff were all priests and brothers of the Rosminian order and nuns from the Sisters of Mercy. Today, fifty years on, the staff reflects a changing world – all lay teachers and the school’s first female principal, Kate Nicholson.
As with all her predecessors she brings a different emphasis to St Peter’s. Fathers Hurdidge, Willett and Hill set the agenda for the school’s Catholic Character. While adhering to this special ethos, principals also placed an emphasis on sports, culture and academic success in the pursuit of providing a holistic education.
Reflecting on his tenure from 2009 –2013, John Hogue observed that the challenge is to model the Gospel values in action; to practise the college motto ’Charity Fulfils the Law’.
As the school approaches its 50th anniversary in January 2019, Kate Nicholson reflects on St Peter’s College today...
“Our role as a Catholic College continues to have a dual purpose. Catholic schools throughout New Zealand are highly regarded in terms of academic achievement, but our purpose continues to be more than that. We have the responsibility of ensuring that our students experience a faith-filled education through our school culture, our living of the gospel values, and the emphasis we put on positive relationships that reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ.
In my opinion, our young people are seeing themselves and their place in the world very differently to even ten years ago and much of this is due to the often-negative pressures, expectations and role modelling created by social media – something that wasn’t an issue for my generation growing up. This means that our role is changing, and we are very aware of the need to bring an alternate view to the table for our young people so they can grow up with a balanced view of life interwoven with the Catholic faith.
St Peter’s College has always been forward thinking and the Rosminian priests and brothers of the 1970s established a progressive educational philosophy that we keep in mind in our future planning. We are currently very conscious of the need to change from a knowledge education to an ‘application of knowledge’ education and include deliberate teaching of 21st century learning skills. Of course, Catholic education already has a strong emphasis on people, relationships and what is known as the ‘soft skills’; in a way, we continue to shine the light on these same skills and work to ensure that our graduates can create positive personal and professional relationships in whatever community they become part of.”
In the lead up to the College's 50th Anniversary, Anne Hunt, our Foundation Co-ordinator, has been writing a series of articles for the local paper. In case you haven't spotted them in The Ensign, or if you live out of town, we'll be sharing them with here on our Foundation Blog. Keep an eye out for upcoming parts in our 'Brief History of St Peter's College'.
A New Millennium
As far back as 1993, St Peter’s College was the first school in Southland to throw out all of its typewriters and move its students into the information age. When $3 million worth of rebuilding and modernisation was completed, the college entered the new millennium in good shape. New specialist facilities for computing, science, technology and music and a new library and careers room, provided excellent resources for students. Consistently high exam results in the ensuing years proved the investment worthwhile and were a tribute to motivated students and a dedicated staff. At the same time the Special Character as a Catholic school remained an important point of difference for the college.
The establishment of an international student programme brought the benefits of increased funding and cultural diversity. Students from as far afield as the USA, Hong Kong, Thailand, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, South Korea, Japan and the Pacific Islands experienced life (and weather) here in Gore.
When new principal, Martin Chamberlain took up his post in 2001, he found the college in good heart. Martin had been both a pupil, living in the hostel and a teacher at the school before returning to St Peter’s for a third time to take on the Principal’s role. He was quick to acknowledge the great advantage enjoyed by the students in having the support of such a caring local community in the Gore district – parents, trustees, staff and all of those who gave up their time to volunteer in sports, trips and events.
By the time he left in 2008, he was able to observe that “In a town like Gore our children have been able to flourish because there is so much available to them. The plethora of activities they have immersed themselves in has been made available by generous adults who have been keen to enrich young people with as much as they are able to offer.”
Truly the village raising the children!