Kia ora e te whanau
It is good to contemplate our sense of place in the cosmos. From the earliest humans and still today, people have always taken a keen interest in the starry skies. The constellations have been, and even though we know so much more about them now, still are, a source of wonder. From Psalm 8 we hear, “When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you set in place, what is humanity that you should be mindful of us? Who are we that you should care for us?”
It is difficult to be outside on a starlit night and not be captured by a sense of wonder. The stars have practical uses too, having been used as an aid to navigation and as an indicator of the seasons. At this time of year, the cluster Matariki, also known as Pleiades, The Seven Sisters or M45 reappears above the horizon, after having dipped below the horizon for some weeks. When this cluster, Matariki, reappeared in the very early morning sky, it signified the beginning of the New Year and people knew it was time to prepare the soil and plant crops. Other meanings were also signified in the setting and rising of this star cluster. As the star cluster set, it was a time to remember those who had died during the past year. As the star cluster rose, it was time to consider the rising of the dead who were now joining the stars of the night sky. It was a time to plan for the future, a time to look forward in hopefulness, a time to be with whanau and friends. The advent of the New Year holds an important place in the Māori calendar and is rich with meaning. Customs vary among different iwi. While all celebrate the New Year, some iwi use the rising of the star Puanga (Rigel), rather than the Matariki cluster, to signify the beginning of the New Year, as the Matariki cluster cannot be easily seen from all localities.
As a school and community, we come together in aroha to celebrate, be drawn into, and pray over the wonder of this time. Some weeks ago, the star cluster Matariki set. It did not rise again the next evening. There are people we love, whose lives have set, who have died, and who we miss deeply. We particularly acknowledge this week the very sad passing of past pupil Stephen Allison last week.
The new light of Matariki has risen!
May it be to you a sign of resurrection and new life.
May it be to you a sign of hope in times of darkness.
May it be to you a sign of the wondrous mystery of Atua who loves you.
May it be to you a sign that the eyes of the Eternal One are ever upon you
and that the presence of the Holy One is ever with you.
And may this be the cause of your rejoicing. Go in peace.
As we head into the last two weeks of term two there are many exciting activities taking place with short school weeks, assessments due and holiday plans to be made. We must not lose sight that first and foremost we are a learning institution with a special Catholic character. It is a privilege to be able to attend school events like the school ball this evening. The Year 13 and some Year 12 students have worked hard to pull this event off and have learnt a lot along the way about event management. This is their ball, but it is still a school event. This means it is strictly alcohol and drug free. You would not have a drink before or during a rugby or hockey game and the school ball is no different. The NZ police and parent organised after ball is not a school event. Information and permission slips have gone home to all students attending and the party would not be possible without the generous support of our parent community. Many schools no longer have these types of after balls and I leave it over to the community to decide if this is something you still want to organise, supervise and be responsible for in the future. My huge thanks go out to the netball committee for organising the ball walkthrough and the PTFA for organising carparking and ball supervision. Without parent volunteers and support events like these would not be possible.
Kia ora e te whanau,
This week I have been interviewed by several groups of Year 11 students to ask me about my beliefs on the Trinity and how this has shaped my life as part of a real-world assessment they are doing in Religious Education. These interviews and discussions have really warmed my heart because they have been a wonderful opportunity to engage with our young people on our faith, the reasons why we believe and why we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ as best we can. Most of all I have been strongly reminded of why St Peter’s College exists in our community and the many sacrifices and gifts people have given to ensure this existence. This pandemic has not been easy on anyone, and we have perhaps focussed on the negative too much in how we treat and interact with each other. It has been a huge test of our resilience but through our young people I am reassured of the hope God has for all of us.
We are baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Catholics affirm their belief in the mystery of the Trinity every time we make the Sign of the Cross. It is a mystery that can be hard for us to understand or explain. A good starting base for understanding the Trinity is the fact that God is love and that love is manifested to mankind. The first way that God’s love is manifested is through his creation of man, who was made in his image and likeness. The second manifestation is when God sent his only Son to die on the cross for the salvation of all – the ultimate sacrifice and example of love. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is referred to as God made man. The third manifestation is the descent of the Holy Spirit, which led to the baptism of Christians to become sons and daughters of God. Every day in prayer we recognise and show our belief in the Trinity- it is part of who we are.
Sadly, last week we received news that Whaea Vanessa’s dear father passed away, only a few weeks after her Mum’s passing our hearts and prayers go out to our friend and colleague. We also keep in our prayers, Mrs Kate McGowan and her whanau after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. May the Lord Jesus, who loved children, bless you and keep you in his love, now and forever.
Kia ora e te whanau
“Sport is a very rich source of values and virtues that help us to become better people. We need to deepen the close connection that exists between sport and life, which can enlighten one another,” says Pope Francis, who often fondly recalls how he and his family cheered on his favourite soccer team when he was a boy.
Yesterday we were privileged to attend and participate in the Catholic School’s Junior Quad Tournament with other Catholic schools in the Dunedin diocese. Just like our faith, sports gives us the opportunity to learn lessons around values and culturally appropriate behaviours. I was heartened by the way our youngest students wore their uniform with pride and gave their all out on the field and court. They showed respect for the officials, demonstrated fair play and camaraderie and most of all they had fun. The senior students who came along to umpire, coach and manage supported our young students and role modelled what it is to be a St Peter’s College leader. The many parents, grandparents and other family members who came along to coach, manage or cheer the students on was also very much appreciated, and it is great to see us come out of the shadow of Covid to come together as a community in events like this.
Sport in schools is not just for professional athletes. It is for everyone, sports can be for pleasure, for recreation, for improving health and fitness, as well as for learning how to be a team, and how to win or lose graciously. Along with all of the obvious health benefits there are many social benefits to playing youth sport. These are:
Improves academic results- Sports help keep kids focused. The focus has been shown to help kids work harder and as a result, get better grades and results in their examinations.
Improves concentration- By being more focussed concentration improves in and outside the classroom.
Increases self-esteem and self-confidence- With more achievements on the field or court, students have a greater sense of accomplishment which boosts esteem and confidence in other areas too.
Keeps drugs and alcohol away- Focused, driven students are far less likely to fall into bad habits like drug use and alcohol abuse if their minds are occupied with productive activities.
Decreases the dropout rate- Focused students who actively take part in academics and co-curricula activities will undoubtably have a greater chance of going on to higher education.
More than anyone it is the parents and caregivers who make sports opportunities happen for kids. Whether it be the financial commitments for fees and equipment to driving back and forth to fixtures or coaching a team, we would not have as many opportunities for our young people as we do now. So, we thank you all very much for showing the 3 school values of Commitment, Community and Compassion in volunteering and supporting. Finances can be a barrier to student participation, and we want you to know that we are given funding every year through the Community Trust of Southland to ensure all individuals can access what they need. If you would like assistance for your child to play sport here at St Peter’s College, please do not hesitate to contact me any time confidentially.
Charity Fulfils the Law.
Kia ora e te whanau
The hardest part of mowing my back lawn is removing all the “stuff” on the lawn - garden seats, sports equipment etc. A well-mowed lawn means all the obstacles are removed so that the lawn has perfect edges and a shiny green surface! Unfortunately, too many of us adopt the lawn mowing approach to a child’s education. Parents and teachers quite rightly don’t want their child to fail so they subconsciously smooth the path. Examples can be:
I have sat through many enrolment interviews where the new student is asked a simple question e.g. “what is your reading like?” and the parent replies “He/she is doing very well in reading - also in Maths and Sports”! Rather than them growing the confidence to speak for themselves- they are spoken for. Perhaps have been all their life.
Every person in education, teacher and parent, would want their young person to be confident, achieving, and on the road to adulthood. The unfortunate fact is that many students lack the ability to "get-back-on-the-horse" when they are tipped off. It is called resilience. Some ways we can encourage resilience and life’s opportunities for our young people:
In Luke 9:23, Jesus looks at his disciples and tells them, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
Lawn mowing parents could reflect on that phrase. For those who wish to read more about lawn mowing parents, I invite you to watch this video.
Today’s newsletter is not intended to cause offence to anyone, but it is a call to reflect on what we do as parents to clear the lawn for our children- is it helpful? Will it set them up for future success? Our antiquated traditional ways of schooling by spoon feeding information is no longer fit for purpose. Any student can now find all the knowledge they need by searching through google.
Spoon feeding in education is:
These are scary changes and ideas for many of us because it was not how we were taught and we turned out fine, right! We need to move on from the assembly line of feeding through the knowledge to inspiring a true love of learning in our students where they want to complete some study after school, not wait for the teacher to spoon feed between the hours of 9 to 3, or depend on extra expensive tuition because they did nothing in class during the week.
Next week we have some exciting events coming up with the Life Education Trust coming to educate our Year 10 and 11 students on the dangers of vaping and our Year 9 students on how to be financially smart. We also have the junior sports quad happening in Dunedin and the Eastern Primary cross-country champs. Have a wonderful and restful Queens Birthday weekend, stay safe and help us keep our Covid cases down.
Charity Fulfils the Law