Kia ora e te whanau
As we get closer to the end of the year the senior students are focussing on their external examinations and the junior students are focussing on end of year assessments and activities. Tutorial support is being offered by our teaching staff and I am very impressed by the extra time and assistance given to our students by our wonderful staff.
When we get busy, I know for me personally it becomes harder to be present for people and their needs and even just to be present in the important moments. Presence, Noho Puku, means being available to people without expecting anything in return and is a powerful way to slow down and show people you care. We are so lucky that we were not in an extended lockdown like our Auckland neighbours and that we can be at school and be present to each other. What a huge difference it makes for students to be at school and make their presence felt with their peers, their teachers, and the community as they travel to and from school. There is something more to presence and being available to others - it builds the community within St Peter’s College and outside the portals of the college too.
It is also time to reflect on spiritual presence and ask ourselves if we have sought the presence of the Lord in our lives at this time. Have we come into His presence and laid our difficulties before Him? Psalm 16:11 says “You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever”. Your presence every day has made a difference in the lives of those around you, continue to make this difference in being available to others and do this without expecting anything in return. Let us all be more of a presence in the lives of those around us as we navigate the challenges before us. We are not alone in these times and should seek assistance when needed.
Recently an external Special Catholic character review took place here at St Peter’s College and Rosmini House and one of the foci was Te Whakaatu Karaitiana - Christian Witness. We were evaluated on how effectively the school provides a hope-filled Christian witness which empowers its community members to integrate their faith and their life. I include two excerpts from the published review that we can all be very proud of:
The authenticity of St Peter’s as a place of Christian witness becomes very obvious through discussion with the various groups which comprise this Catholic community. The Principal describes families as “connected and committed” in their desire for a well-rounded education for their children. The values of the college, compassion, community and commitment are well articulated by ākonga who said that they live by the three C’s and that their classmates are there for them in times of difficulty. They feel cared for and supported and teachers are willing to give of their time. “Everyone knows who you are.” They know that adult support is always there and they have many doors to knock on for support. Ākonga also noted that there is a sense of community when they gather for Masses. Parents spoken to also described a caring and accepting environment where people look after each other. The parent community is very involved and welcome in the school and the presiding board member sees this as a strength.
From visiting the hostel common room and dining hall, meeting with the director and staff, talking to ākonga it can be seen that the impact of being a member of the hostel community is significant. Hostel residents are provided with a family atmosphere and their pastoral care is a huge priority in complete alignment with the Special Catholic Character of St Peter’s College.
The full review document can be found on our website. I wish all our students at school every opportunity of connection and presence. To our senior students, we wish you the very best for your external NCEA Examinations. May blessings be with you always.
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
I have been privileged to have had many leadership roles throughout my career and when I was young my focus wasn’t initially on serving people, it was on doing big things and getting ahead. Working in Catholic schools I was always being challenged to think more with my heart than my head, but the many years of training give you a hierarchical approach to leadership. Over time and with good guidance I have learnt that my core focus needs to be on serving people. If you give people what they want, they will help you get what you want. Trying to get others to help me and do things for me, instead of trying to help them meant my attitude wasn’t right.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
Servant Leadership is leading not through power and force of position, but by serving others and setting an example they choose to follow. There have been many great Servant-Leaders throughout history, but Jesus Christ is the greatest example, since He not only served, but laid down His life for His friends. Servant Leadership is important, because it changes other people, impacting them for service on their own. People will do something if they have no other choice, but true influence occurs when people willingly serve because of the example set by others. How we choose to lead changes the world around us. So, if we want a world where people love one another and are willing to sacrifice, we must create that world by leading the way.
This week the Year 12 students came together for a day long retreat at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament where we experienced liturgy and activities all centred around the concept of Servant Leadership. It is those qualities we are looking for in our Student Executive Leadership Team for 2022. We have already begun this journey from changing our Student Council who looked to see what the school could do for them, to a Servant Leadership council where members seek to serve the school. Next year St Peter’s College will change the leadership structure to better suit this model. We will have one head boy and one head girl, no deputies, and one leader for each of our school values: Compassion, Commitment and Community.
This team of 5 that will also include the student BoT representative will lead the student body next year with support from all the Year 13 students. All Year 13 students will have a leadership role in being the leaders for the new whanau groups in each house. Effectively making all Year 13’s, house leaders. During this retreat the students spent some time putting together their applications for why they believe they have the qualities of servant leadership and how they show them in their everyday lives. They also nominated other students they thought exemplified these qualities. At St Peter’s College we are looking for servant leaders with the following qualities:
- They listen.
- They have empathy for others.
- They seek to heal, not wound.
- They are aware of those around them.
- They are able to persuade, rather than force others to their side.
- They are good stewards of what has been given to them.
- They are committed to the growth of other people.
- They are able to build community around them.
Over the next fortnight we as a staff will vote on who has earned these positions and I would stress that these positions are not earned through how many prizes, trophies and accolades students have achieved over the years. It is a balance of showing servant leadership qualities and having the confidence, strength and resilience to lead. There is no criteria for this and I know it is hard for parents and students to accept the final decisions each year. We must pray for and support those students who are chosen and help all of our Year 13’s to show leadership through their role as whanau house leaders. The 5/6 leaders will be informed no later than Friday, 10th December if they are in the Student Executive Team for 2022, they will not know their role until next years Powhiri on Tuesday, 8th February. The team will lead and plan for the new student orientation on Wednesday, 3rd February after which we will make our final decision on the roles each will fulfil.
A successful servant leader listens to other people, empathizes with the hardships and challenges of others, is committed to win-win-win situations, and builds true friendships wherever he or she goes. Perhaps, the greatest summary of servant leadership is found in Jesus' so called Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (see Matthew 7:12).
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
The world Climate Change Conference gathering in Scotland has just recently taken place. We are being challenged to face the urgent Ecological calls as our world is at a tipping point in terms of the catastrophic effects climate change is having on Mother Earth. It is hard to face this reality and easier for us to bury our heads in the sand and think I can’t make a difference all on my own. Our young people however have a much bigger sense of urgency than we do and know that small actions make all the difference. It is their future that is in jeopardy.
I was lucky to be able to go out to the Year 10 Borland Camp this week for a few hours with Year 10 Learning Tutor, Mrs Louise Grogan, and it was great to see our students, parents and staff communing with nature. Putting their devices, creature comforts and materialistic ideals to the side and just enjoying what our beautiful country has to offer. Opportunities like this can really make us see how important the care and preservation for places like this is.
Not all of us can go bush every week but what little steps can we take to fulfil Pope Francis calling in Laudato Si to care for God’s creation? We can take some time each day to take a contemplative walk outside in nature. All of us need this loving, reverential intimacy with nature to help in this environmental crisis we currently face. Such transformative, loving intimacy with God’s magnificent creation will deepen our care for our suffering Mother Earth. There are also practical ways we can preserve our environment. In the spirit of us all being urged to recycle – reuse – reduce – remind.
I take some time to gaze around my own room: what do I see that I no longer need or use, and I could give away to someone in need, recycle, or reuse in some other way? Around our house or shed or workshop etc there will be many other such unused items we could also suggest we do something about. Can we be more attentive to what we can reuse? For example, paper, plastic, bottles, cloth bags, How can we personally reduce the amount of water we use, especially hot water, our use of electricity, use of vehicles rather than public transport, the amount of money we spend, finding ways to reduce food wastage and reuse left-overs? Growing personal awareness of such practical actions may also encourage us to remind our community to work together more in taking such actions.
Charity fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
I truly believe that St Peter’s College is the best educational option for Catholic students at any year level, because they will learn in an environment where they can peak mentally, physically, socially and spiritually. We have always been renowned for the outstanding care and support of our students, but we want to proactively and intentionally ensure our students are not just ‘OK’ or ‘good’ but are given every opportunity to ‘thrive.’
So, after much consultation, including an external review of our pastoral systems last year that included student, teacher and community voice, we will be moving in a new direction for 2022. Vertical house whanau groups will replace our current horizontal year level form groups. This will have very little impact on our timetable with form time being replaced with whanau time on the same days at the same times. Students will be split into house whanau groups of approximately 27 students that will consist of students at every year level e.g. 4 year 7’s, 5 year 8’s, 5 year 9’s, 4 year 10’s, 3 year 11’s, 3 year 12’s, 3 year 13’s. These students will all be members of the same house e.g. Rosmini, Pompallier, Finlay and McAuley. Each whanau group will have 2 staff members attached, also of the same house. These staff members and students will stay together for the entire 7 years they will be at St Peter’s College. This will allow a smaller group of students to build a strong relationship with at least one adult in the school. This adult will be the students “go to” for all pastoral needs. This adult will get to know the students in their whanau groups very well and will be a first port of call for parents in checking in on their progress and wellbeing.
This change will take place on day one of school next year. Year 7 and 8 students will still be home roomed with a teacher who will be with them for most of their core subjects. Year 13 students will naturally become the leaders of their houses. Tuakana-Teina where the older student’s mentor and guide the younger students will also be able to flourish. Learning Tutors will be renamed Dean’s and will remain horizontal with a year group to add that extra layer of support and they will follow their year group through the years e.g. The year 9 Dean in 2022 becomes year 10 Dean in 2023.
According to two decades of research, a student who has high levels of wellbeing is also likely to have better physical health, better social relationships, more optimism for the future and higher academic performance. It also has a positive impact on a student’s life well into adult life, with longitudinal research showing that wellbeing in the teen years impacts employment, earning capacity, relationship satisfaction and the likelihood of volunteering in one’s 30s and 40s.
We are very excited to be moving in this new direction and as Catholics we are called to build and foster positive relationships, to enjoy social connection and to spread love and joy. St Peter’s College is proud of its holistic education.
Term 4 is moving fast, we have just finished our senior derived grade examinations, teachers are marking these as quickly as they can so students can see where their study time needs to be directed until we get into the real deal beginning November 22nd. Covid level 2 restrictions have meant that some key celebrations and events have needed to be adapted this term so here are some details on these changes:
- Loving for Life Sexuality programme for year 7’s and year 9’s has now been postponed until early next year.
- Tuesday 16th November is the last onsite school day for year 13’s where we will celebrate with a Mass in
our chapel for the year group and staff.
- Wednesday 17th November is the last onsite school day for year 12’s where we will have the year 12 retreat
at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament with a Mass for students and staff only.
- Thursday 18th November is the last onsite school day for year 11’s where we will celebrate with a Mass in
our chapel for the year group and staff.
- Tuesday 7th, 8th, 9th Dec- Year 7 EOTC days. Weather permitting, one form class out per day.
- Thursday 9th Dec- 5pm- Year 13 prize giving and leavers dinner at the Croydon Lodge for year 13’s, parents
and staff only. Dux and other awards will also be given out this night.
- Friday 10th Dec- Last official school day for junior students.
There will be no new student orientation day on Wednesday 24th November, instead new students will be offered individual short tours from the 23rd November onwards.
There will be no junior Christian service morning on Friday 10th December, instead junior students will assist their teachers in cleaning up the school, rooms and helping to stack chairs and tables for the holidays.
There will be no formal prizegiving ceremonies or assemblies for years 7-12, there will be no diligence awards this year due to Covid and school disruptions and to recognise that these changes have affected all students and families in different ways we will instead be showing our school community that wellbeing comes first. Certificates and awards will be sent home.
We wish Mr Ronny Kotkamp, the teaching team, parent volunteers and all of the year 10’s going off to Borland Lodge next week. We are so lucky to be able to make this happen this year and thank all of those involved very much.
Charity fulfils the Law.
Kia ora e te whanau,
As a little child, it may not have made sense to you that you couldn’t have cake for every meal. By the time you reached a certain age, though, you understood the wisdom of this rule. Speed limits can feel like a nuisance, especially to a young driver, but as we gain experience, we appreciate the safety of slower moving cars in suburbs and around blind corners. So it is with God’s law. The more he illuminates our understanding, the more we understand that every command is handed down in love. Every rule is designed with our best life in mind.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law – Psalm 119:18
This week has been a busy one with senior derived grade examinations beginning and with a short week we are all trying to fit five days into four. Thankfully in these four days we have been able to celebrate our Cultural and Sporting Blue’s awards in a small ceremony just for immediate parents, staff and students at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament. The recipients showcased what amazing talent we have in our small school. It shows us that we punch well above our weight in these areas.
Sporting and Cultural Blues
Last night it was my pleasure to attend the Southland Youthmark awards where the top achieving students in their fields were awarded with their photo’s and citations that will soon adorn our school walls. These will be up in the Ascot Hotel foyer for another week if you are heading towards Invercargill and would like to see them:
Kiera Davis has a quick pair of heels. Kiera is an outstanding athlete renowned for her sheer pace, particularly on the netball court. Here, her speed, footwork and deft passing make Kiera a threat to any team. Kiera has been a member of the St Peter’s College Senior A team for the past three seasons playing as either centre or wing attack. This year she was honoured by being named Vice-Captain. Kiera regularly makes representative teams and this year she was selected for the Eastern Southland U18 team. Kiera also gives back to the game, passing on her skills by coaching junior teams. Kiera also knows how to chase down track and field titles. Kiera is the current Senior Girls Athletics Champion at St Peter’s College. From 2016 to 2020, Kiera powered her way to consecutive Southland 100m sprint age-group titles and this year she added ‘Southland Senior Girls Javelin Champion’ to her already impressive resume. As St Peter’s Deputy Head Girl, Kiera applies the same commitment not only to leadership of the student body, but also to her studies, gaining NCEA Level 1 and 2 with Excellence including subject endorsements in Physical Education and Religious Studies. Kiera plans on developing her love of sport by studying for a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Human Nutrition, at Otago University where she will pursue a career as a nutritionist or sports analyst.
Lucy Wilson prefers to let her achievements do the talking. Lucy is a genuine allrounder who is making a name for herself in Netball. A tireless and versatile player, Lucy is a natural leader on court who plays as either centre or goal defence. Lucy is the captain of the St Peter’s College Senior A Netball Team after making her debut in Year 10. Lucy has played representative netball for Eastern Southland since 2013. Among her many highlights are being named in the Otago Southland Secondary Schools Netball Talented Player squad in 2020 alongside being selected for this year’s Steel Steps Accelerator Camp. Lucy also stands out on the Basketball court. In 2020, she was awarded Eastern Southland’s Most Improved Secondary A Grade player. Lucy generously contributes to the development of junior players by coaching both codes. Given her ongoing dedication, Lucy was chosen as St Peter’s College Commitment Leader for Sport for 2021. Lucy’s drive is evident in all aspects of her life. Academically, Lucy is a high achiever passing both NCEA Level 1 & 2 with Excellence endorsements. She is a talented communicator having worked her way up to Grade 6 of the New Zealand Speech Board, including being awarded Honours-Plus for Communication and Leadership. Lucy has also obtained the Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and is currently working towards Gold. Lucy’s actions have set her up for a bright future. Next year, she intends to study human nutrition at Otago University where she plans on becoming a dietician.
Laura Perkins takes competition in her stride. A dedicated sportsperson, Laura's natural ability and commitment span a range of disciplines. Laura is an accomplished rider with a string of placings in equestrian events across the South Island. Laura excels in the Show and Hunter jumping disciplines. Achievements that stand out for her include 2nd place in the Open Lightweight Worker Hunter section of the Upper Clutha A & P Show, 1st in the Otago Show Jumping 1 metre Horse, and 4th placing in the 95cm division of the South Island Pony Club Jumping Championship. Laura’s achievements extend beyond the showjumping arena. Equally sure-footed on a hockey turf, Laura is a tenacious defensive mid-fielder. Laura plays for the Riversdale Women’s Division 1 Team where she was acknowledged as the Club’s Most Valuable U18 Player in 2020. This year, Laura represented Southland in the Vantage National U18 Women’s Tournament in Wellington. At St Peter’s College, Laura’s drive and talent are evident. Laura is a four-time athletics champion and she was awarded Academic Blues for gaining Excellence endorsements in NCEA Level 1 and 2. A role model for other students, it was fitting that Laura was chosen as the Leader of Pompallier House. Next year, Laura’s plans on beginning a Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture at Lincoln University, after which, she dreams of working with horses and owning a farm.