Kia ora e te whanau
It’s easy to feel happy on a sunny day. When all is well, the birds are singing, and life is going along swimmingly. But what happens when waters are rougher, bad news comes, or the long winter days feel just plain hard? God wants us to feel gladness when times are good. He has made each and every day. We are called to rejoice in all of them whether good or bad. Happiness is determined by our circumstances, but true joy comes when we can find the silver linings, hidden in our darkest hours. Our challenge is to sing God’s praises no matter what.
It is no secret that young people today undergo a lot of pressure to achieve in life and when you add on the anxiety that goes with technology today, and the constant notifications and demands on their time, it is easier to fall into a downward spiral. We are all here to support our students, but it really does take a village to do this. We need our parents support to ensure students attend school every day on time and to complete homework and study at home every night. Parents need our support to ensure students are on task and learning in the classroom. It is a partnership.
This week I have been at the presbytery with Fr Jaime and Eileen Hickey meeting prospective parents for the enrolment of their child into St Peter’s College for next year. It has been such a positive experience hearing about their dreams and aspirations for their children and we look forward to meeting our new students later on in the year for their one to one interviews. Enrolments are once again looking strong, and we will have three year 7 homeroom classes again for next year.
I would like to congratulate Ms Juliet Sorrel on being appointed a permanent Technology and Art teacher here. Juliet has been filling in on a fixed term contract and has brought vibrancy, and a calm and caring nature to the department and her classes. She also contributed to the successful production this year with the fantastic backdrops and props and has many exciting ideas going forward.
We have also permanently appointed Mr Borom Blakie as our new Science, Physics and Chemistry teacher beginning in term four. Borom comes to us from Geraldine High School and has family in the Balfour/Riversdale area, so we welcome him to our school family. Mr Tristan Lawrence who has been filling in, in this area and doing an amazing job, will stay on with us until the end of the year to ensure our senior students’ stability and continuity.
In the day of prosperity be joyful,
and in the day of adversity consider;
God has made the one as well as the other,
so that mortals may not find out
anything that will come after them.
Charity fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
We are reaching the halfway point in the school year, it is the middle of winter, it is dark in the morning when we leave to go to school and work, and for those with sports practices and jobs after school, it can also be dark when we return home. At this week’s full school assembly, I talked about the concept of time and how precious it is. We get one chance at life on this earth, and we want all our students to make the very best of it. To be successful in all that they do. People often spend time discussing their plans for their days off, whether it is time out of work or out of school. School tends to consume a lot of time on weekdays. There is the normal timetable, possibly some sports or music fixture after school and not much space for anything but homework between dinner and bedtime. However, the weekend gives us two clear days, so it is no wonder that we discuss our leisure plans and look forward to Fridays, when we can begin to do what we want to do rather than what someone else tells us to do.
There is one problem with looking forward to something special, it can sometimes encourage us to live our lives in the future. The problem is that it could take away some of our enjoyment of the present. A long time ago, a Christian man called Augustine prayed, ‘Lord, make me good, but not yet.’ Augustine prayed like that because he was having a great time and he didn’t want the fun to stop. Of course, the present is not always enjoyable; sometimes, it might feel like it is hardly bearable. Looking forward to a treat in the future, like a holiday or a special film, can help us when we feel a bit down.
However, living in the future is not really living at all. It is just making pictures in our imagination. The present - what the theologian Paul Tillich called ‘the eternal now’ - is all we’ve got. Our lives are much richer when we try to appreciate what is happening right now.
Our lives are made up of tiny moments and each one is important. We can spend each moment doing the right thing or the wrong thing. If we squander our hours, ruin our days, and throw away our weeks, our lives will be empty. However, if we see each hour as an opportunity, if we spend each day growing and if we use each week to move ahead, our lives will be full. Here at St Peter’s College, we want all our students to strive for, in the here and now, their own individual goals towards excellence in whatever field builds a fire in their belly.
As already mentioned in a previous newsletter, the Education Review office (ERO) is operating a new partnership model with schools. ERO has shifted from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement. This more differentiated approach uses a developmental evaluation that reflects individual schools’ context, culture and needs. It aims to strengthen the capability of all schools through embedding a continuous improvement approach, strengthening schools’ own engagement with, and accountability to whanau. St Peter’s College has begun this partnership with Mrs Christine Gold and the initiating phase where they meet with the BoT chair and Principal as well as some key leadership staff has already taken place. They are now working with us to decide on an evaluation plan for the next few years. They are looking at our strengths and weaknesses and will be putting together a focus on what will be most useful for our continuous improvement. At this stage, this focus is most likely to be on Year 9 and 10 literacy which has had significant decreases in achievement over the last four years.
So, it is perfect timing that we now look to the future of St Peter’s and begin planning our school charter for 2022-2024. A charter sets the direction for the school and identifies the priorities the board expects the Principal to be leading. Last weekend the BoT along with Gigi Hollyer from the New Zealand Trustees Association met to plan the strategic direction of the school for the next three years. The BoT has overall responsibility for developing and reviewing the school's charter. It plays an active role in setting the strategic direction and part of this includes consulting with all our stake holders. This includes staff, students, and parents as well as local iwi. Therefore, we are excited to share with you our ideas and dreams for the school next week and welcome your input. I will be available in the fishbowl on the following mornings and afternoon to share the direction and invite you to add your input. These times are designed to fit around your drop off and pick up routines at school. Some BoT members and I will also be available on Thursday evening for those of you who work during the day. After next week a follow up online survey will be sent out to you all to add further ideas and input, especially for those of you who can’t physically make it into the school:
Strategic planning consultation times:
Your views, dreams, and aspirations for your children’s futures here at St Peter’s College is very important to us so please come along and have your say about the future direction of our school.
Charity fulfils the Law
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.