Kia ora e te whanau,
The wellbeing of all students is at the heart of every Catholic School. We enable a learning environment which promotes and provides for the spiritual, physical, cognitive, social and emotional growth of the entire school community. We do this in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, our greatest model. There is safety and peace in spending time with him in our hearts and minds and this is a gift only schools like ours can offer. For us, it is not about one aspect of a student’s life, where we use the young persons talents and gifts for what they can give to us. We care deeply about providing a learning environment that cares and grows all aspects of the person. We may not have the top-rated sports teams in the country year in and year out, but we do nurture well rounded, caring and kind young adults who will be successful in any endeavour or career path they choose.
Wellbeing is best promoted in a safe and supportive school environment, and at St Peter’s College wellbeing is characterised by positive relationships, resilience, the opportunity to maximise strengths and high levels of satisfaction, and connectedness with learning. The links between learning and wellbeing are well researched and are clear. The responsibility for enhancing and promoting student wellbeing is shared by the community. We want our students to thrive in all that they do.
In the areas of behaviour, emotions, thoughts, learning and social relationships, a thriving student may do the following and much more:
Yesterday we had an absolutely fantastic day in Dunedin at the Junior Quad Sports Tournament. All of my day was spent on the rugby side-line watching some excellent examples of sportsmanship, heart and courage. It was also great to catch up with ex-principal, Mrs Kate Nicholson, and share in the comradery between our Catholic schools, with Kavanagh College hosting an outstanding event for our young sports people. A big thank you also goes out to the many parents and other relatives who came and supported and coached our teams. I was particularly proud of our senior students who give up their time to coach our junior students. Congratulations to Verdon College for taking home the Bishop Boyle trophy for being overall winners of the competition.
We offer many sporting opportunities here at St Peter’s College, whether they be season length or one-off tournaments. All of these occasions cost money to register, run and transport. Please understand that going forward, once a student has had their permission slip signed by a caregiver or parent to attend, they are then liable for the fees associated with that event. If a student pulls out because they can’t be bothered going anymore or they have accidentally double booked themselves, they will still need to pay for what they have signed up for. Only a medical certificate will allow non-payment or a refund.
Charity fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
Today you are enjoying a day with your children while us staff members of St Peter’s College focus on wellbeing and catching up on the educational changes that are coming our way. To name some of the ones that will directly impact our teachers and students, there is a new curriculum refresh across all subject areas, beginning with the History curriculum with the incorporation of more local and national histories this year. There is a review of NCEA underway with many changes already being signalled, we have Treaty of Waitangi obligations and new Wellbeing, Relationship and Sexuality guidelines. The Education Review office (ERO) have also begun their new evaluation partnership work with us this year. Our evaluative partner is Mrs Christine Gold, and we look forward to sharing with you soon what our agreed focus for academic improvement will be over the next few years.
We hope this long weekend is spent in peace and is a time for all families to connect, speak about their greatest concerns with each other and come back to work and school on Tuesday refreshed. We are now embarking on winter, a time of hibernation and short days. Children and adults are tired, and silly behaviours and mistakes are sometimes made. We understand this and we are here to support our young people on their journey to adulthood, but we do this expecting all interactions to be entered into respectfully and the dignity and Mana of all people is upheld.
Thank you to those of you who responded to the survey on the school ball recently and after further consultation with our staff I have decided that our senior ball will be for year 12’s and 13’s only going forward, with year 13’s only having the privilege of bringing an outside ball partner. Students can attend two balls here during their time at school and hopefully this minimises some of the financial and social pressures we have been witnessing.
The words of Christ in the story of the loaves and the fishes where He tells His disciples, "Bring them here to me" and “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted,” reminds us to bring what we have. These words are so relevant to our St Peter’s community – bring what you have. Being concerned about the needs of others is different from doing something about it. While we may feel that we may not have much to bring, if we hold back and keep what we have to ourselves, who knows what opportunities – maybe even miracles - may be stopped from happening!
Enrolments for 2022 are currently coming in, once again we are in a privileged position to have more enquiries than we can fill. Our enrolment policy is on our website and clearly states that St Peter’s College is a Catholic school for Catholic families. We strive to provide a holistic education of excellence in all areas whether academic, spiritual, sporting or cultural. To do this well we need our families to commit to 7 years of education here from Year 7 to Year 13. We are not an intermediate school that serves as a training ground for non-Catholic boarding schools in Dunedin. The concept of “enrolling the family,” which is central to our approach at the College, means that each family is asked to bring what they have and to add it to what other families bring. This is community. This happens in many ways and collectively makes a significant difference.
Every contribution, big or small, matters – nothing is wasted. It is so heartening to see so many events at the College which show this in action:
Our families coming to the Whanau conferences and the Year 7 & 8 student led conferences and showing a genuine interest and concern for their child’s education and wellbeing.
Thank you to the St Peter’s community for what you bring and do!
Charity fulfils the Law.
Kia ora e te whanau
This weekend gone was Pentecost. The Advocate promised by Christ enters the believing community to guide and protect it until the second coming. Apart from being a very beautiful feast, the day of Pentecost is a celebration of God's hand guiding the Christian community through the trials and decisions that are presented to it. The Education and Training Act 2020 now requires us to consult with students, staff and our parent community around any major changes we make to our rules and policies. Recently we included a survey in the newsletter about student attendance at the School Ball; this decision is currently going through consultation with the staff and students and today we include a survey on our Uniform Policy around tattoos and, in particular, Ta Moko. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in your discernments at all times, and we look forward to receiving your feedback. I will let you know the decision on Ball attendance in due course.
It has come to our attention that there is increased vaping use among students here at school. We know it is happening in the toilets at break times and several students have been caught with vapes in their bag or in their pockets at school, already this year. We know that the main users are boys, and we know that it is the vapers who are breaking the toilet seats in the boy’s toilets causing the school hundreds of dollars in damage each time, due to boys standing on them to keep watch. These hundreds of dollars could be spent on better things around the school like sports equipment. As of November 11th last year, it became illegal for anyone to vape on our school grounds, either during school hours or after. It is also illegal, as I am sure you are aware, for anyone under the age of 18, to vape.
We know the consequences of smoking cigarettes and today for a young person to take up that habit, they do that knowing it can lead to lung cancer etc, later in life. Vaping and e-cigarettes were originally invented to help addicted smokers give up, not to give people a healthier alternative. At assembly this week I focussed on educating students around the health risks, but as a further deterrent I need all parents and caregivers to understand the consequences if a student is caught vaping or caught with a vape in their bag or on their person. In the first instance, parents will be called and students will receive an internal stand down where they will be removed from classes and given different break times from their peers. If students are honest and hand in their vaping equipment before being caught, they will receive a warning and home contacted. Further instances could lead to external stand downs and/or suspension to the Board of Trustees. All vaping equipment will be destroyed and not returned to the student or parent.
I apologise for the negative tone in this week’s newsletter but I feel I need to draw attention to all of our community to this growing concern.
Lastly, I would like to thank the St Peter’s College Rugby Committee and Mrs Julie Watkins, our Rugby Administrator on staff, for organising an outstanding Quiz Night last Friday at the Town and Country Club. We could also not have envisioned the huge support we received from all of our community in attending, spending and quizzing! Thank you all for helping us raise over $21,000 for our rugby students.
Link to the uniform policy survey:
Kia ora e te whanau
I am still smiling from ear to ear after watching the school performance of “Grease” last Thursday night, what an absolutely stunning performance from our students. There were many laughs and the audience showed their appreciation throughout. So much time, preparation and commitment goes into putting on a show like this from both the students and the staff involved. They gave up their weekends, nights and school holidays and from all accounts the students never once complained or became precious about their roles. Most school shows are never this stress free, and this comes down to the leadership, passion and enthusiasm of three very special staff members: Mrs Victoria Kelly, Mrs Liza Wilson and Mrs Lee-Anne Kortbaoui. While there was also a lot of fantastic support from many staff members, the show would not have been possible without their vision and ability to see through to the end product the whole journey through. The talent amongst the student body was also phenomenal and I have a feeling we will be seeing many of their names in lights in the very near future. I was lucky to see the Dunedin show of Les Miserables just two nights later where past St Peter’s College student, Anna Langford was performing as Eponine, so it just goes to show what our students can achieve and it starts right here! While standing in the refreshment line at the St James Theatre in Gore for our show, I witnessed every single St Peter’s student who went up, say thank you. Gratitude is often shared by our students in and out of school and it is always a pleasure to witness. Staff and visitors to the school regularly report on the helpfulness of our students in opening doors, picking up rubbish and asking if assistance is required. These are all great examples of goodness in action. Such attitudes, firstly come from the student’s family upbringings. Children who are loved and cared for in the home return gratitude. It also comes from our schools’ traditions where students are expected to be well dressed, well-mannered and turn up every day to do their very best. There are no short cuts at St Peter’s College where the preparation for life approach begins on day one, even when the rewards may not be felt or seen until long after they have left our school. I acknowledge the expertise and effort of all our staff. Those who teach on the frontline. Those in the back story helping. Genuine men and women who really care for the future of our young tamariki.
Gratitude also comes from the service ethic being encouraged in every one of our students and this week the servant leaders at each year level were announced at assembly. I congratulate these students for putting themselves forward and stepping up to serve their school community. We will meet fortnightly on Monday lunchtimes in the chapel to plan and prepare acts of service around the school. These are our future head boys and girls.
Ben de Jong
Kia ora e te whanau
This week as part of our Teachers Only Day we are being challenged to become more culturally responsive in our thinking, our speaking, our listening and our doing. It is a FACT that Maori and Pasifika learners do not perform well in our current educational system. For too long we have avoided this TRUTH and said over and over, “I treat everyone the same no matter what their culture.” Well, the uncomfortable truth is that treating everyone the same is not equitable. If we focus on equity, recognising that not all individuals have the same opportunities and that not all systems are fit for all cultural backgrounds we can begin to right the past wrongs in education.
This year we have all been working on our Pepeha, how we introduce ourselves and share our background connections with each other. Most of you will be familiar with this and many of you can probably share your own. When I practice my Pepeha the idea of the place you are from, the Maunga/Mountain and Awa/river you were brought up alongside is really special and I often think about the Takitimu’s and the Aparima river as my grounding, calm place that I connect to.
Mountains are like school culture, they take time to form and to stay on course. That takes patience.
Mountains have a view on life and its direction. It looks great from the top. But we know avalanches happen.
Mountains are as much about engagement as perspective. The swirling west coast Haast River started in a mountain.
Mountains protect. They are unfazed by the fickle clouds.
Mountains cast aside the urgency of the now, the 24 hour news cycle, the roller-coaster stock market and trivial gossip over coffee cups!
If a mountain denies the river its water the river soon goes out of existence.
Parents and caregivers, we need, for the sake of our children, to think like a mountain.
We are called to see the big picture:
I have a new found respect through my learning journey for our Maori Brothers and Sisters who refer to their ancestors, their Whakapapa and especially their mountains.
We are nearly halfway through 2021 already, getting through to the end is just like climbing a mountain.
Kia ora e te whanau
Welcome back to Term 2! We were able to pack in a huge amount of extra curricula activities in term one and term two is looking to be just as busy with our School Production coming up next week and the beginning of our weekly winter sports codes. Fast forward 9 weeks and our annual Eisteddfod competition will round up what I know will be a fun, challenging and successful term for all. It is important that our students balance their extra curricula activities with their academic studies. At St Peter’s College we expect all students to give their very best to achieve their goals in all aspects of life. For our seniors, the learning challenge is not to collect credits like a lolly scramble but to aim for excellence in the areas they are capable of. For our juniors the learning challenge is to set goals and work tirelessly towards them. For all students, the learning challenge is to commit every day to learning deeply - excellence is a consequence of this commitment.
I have been particularly impressed with our Year 10 students for setting SMART goals in Term One and focussing hard on achieving these. Their teachers are in partnership with them in co-constructing these goals and we are seeing some awesome examples of improvement and success. Year 10 Learning Tutor, Ms Louise Grogan and Learning Support Coordinator, Ms Liza Wilson have been central to leading this initiative and we acknowledge and thank them for their commitment and hard work.
I wish all cast members of “Grease” all the best for their last week of rehearsals and for their performances next Thursday and Friday nights. Please come along and support our students, I promise you, you will not be disappointed!
Congratulations to Ms Jo Carter who has been appointed acting Head of Learning Area for Science until the end of the year. We are in the middle of recruiting for a new Physics and Chemistry teacher but are lucky to have Mr Brad Lamb and Ms Ann Callahan filling in for the next few weeks.
Message for our students from their teachers:
Dear students, always believe in yourself. You have the ability to do any kind of work whether it is easy or tough. So be confident and work hard to achieve your dreams.
Be a good human who helps everyone. Be a good partner, a good friend, a good soul who is honest, trustworthy and responsible. Happiness will find you.
You are the person who can change the world. You have a big responsibility to make the world better. We know you can do this very well.
True success will be seeing you in a better position. That will be the best gift for us. So work hard and achieve your success.
In your life, you will face many hard times. Never lose hope in the bad times. After the heavy rain, we can see the sunshine. Always be positive.
We are proud that we got the chance to teach you. You all are very brave and active. Always keep this spirit up.
Failure means you have been given another opportunity to do the task but with more experience and knowledge. Ace the situations and achieve your goals.
If you have willpower, courage, and determination- no one can stop you from becoming the person you aspire to be. Start believing your ability and success will come along.