Kia ora e te whanau
A research study in the States on graduates of Catholic schools, found that the educational outcomes were similar to many other schools except in one area of life. Graduates of a Catholic school with a sense of community and purpose had a significant higher “Hope” factor in its graduates.
“Hope” that life is ok, and we can get through the struggles and pain.
“Hope” that we can be grateful for the gifts of this world and life in general.
This factor is reinforced to me every day when I see and experience our students and family members participating and supporting each other in school activities and events. Our rugby prize giving this week was an example of this. Selflessly organised by Mrs Julie Watkins and the Rugby Committee of parents we had an evening of abundant food, speeches about gratefulness and sportsmanship and we recognised the commitment and achievement of all of our players, both boys and girls. Gratitude was expressed for what our small school has achieved this year despite the many barriers and reasons to do less. How true.
Hope is the quality of seeing in the dark and getting on with life. Day after day despite all that has happened. It is the opposite of optimism which is often a mask for depression.
The last three years have been the ideal place to practice “Hope”. Nothing has gone well in terms of health, livelihood or planned events. So can a College practice Hope like one would practice rugby, reading or rhythm in music? Yes we can.
At St Peter’s College we practice Hope by normalising routines and with courage as a foundation.
We practice Hope by expecting all students will achieve to something beyond them.
We practice Hope by expecting all activities have a quality of depth and excellence.
Congratulations to seven of our year 7 and 8 students this week who qualified for the finals in the Otago Problem Solving competition, many with Excellence. These students are Max McGregor, Lachlan Gray, Oliver Gray, Eli Puna, Jack Wilkins, Harry Hoyle and Anthony Lambert. Our head of year 7 & 8 Mrs Julie Burrows is extremely proud of the boys hard work and shared with us yesterday that the last student to qualify in this competition was Connor Watkins who is now in year 13!
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
You will be aware that New Zealand will move to a new, long-term approach to COVID-19. These changes have been made based on public health advice and reflect high levels of immunity and declining case numbers across New Zealand. This new approach will only result in minor changes to the way we operate. The very positive news is that household contacts of a person with COVID-19 do not need to isolate, but instead are asked to complete a RAT test each day, for five days. Therefore, students who are household contacts but test negative and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, should continue to attend. It is the best place for them to be so they can be engaged in their learning, and connected with their teachers, classmates and friends.
Information on how to get RAT kits can be found here: Request a RAT– Ministry of Health We also have a supply here at school for all students and staff. Mask wearing is also no longer required.
All the other recommended public health measures will stay in place as we know they reduce the spread of infectious illnesses including COVID-19. These include ensuring our indoor spaces are well-ventilated, maintaining good hand hygiene, encouraging everyone to cough or sneeze into elbows and, most importantly, staying home and getting tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Now that the restrictions have dropped, we have many more opportunities for our students to be engaged, active and involved in different activities, both in and outside of the College. It is through these opportunities that students develop and make new friendships and connections with others that may last a lifetime and it is through these connections that we will continue to develop and grow as a community. As our wider Catholic community grows stronger, we are in our best position to support our young people and empower them to shape and challenge their future.
Recently we farewelled our Accounts Administrator, Adele Horne, who is leaving to work more hours in her family business. Adele worked here with us for three years and her expertise and friendly and helpful personality will be great missed. We warmly welcome Lisamarie Harvey who comes to us with many years of medical accounts administration experience.
Today we had our first Girls Breakfast, after a hiatus of a few years, with the wonderful Monica Moore. It was a very special event where female empowerment was at the forefront. Our Catholic faith is at the heart of our school community, and it is through our Mercy teachings that we have the desire for our girls to be empowered Mercy women of spirit and character who will shape their future. Wonderfully, our community extends beyond just our students’ years here at the College and we are excited to have past pupil Tori Peeters coming for a special visit early next term.
In the early beginnings of the College, when the Mercy Sisters were invited to come and help staff St Peter’s College, the vision of our school was highlighted with regards to the importance of ensuring that our young women are empowered, and that this comes from providing opportunities where students can develop a connection and commitment to our faith and to our school community.
You will be aware that the Government has announced Monday, 26 September 2022, as the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day. This will mean that all schools will be closed for instruction that day.
A reminder that the senior NZQA derived grade examinations are coming up and due to the public holiday the first day of exams will now be Friday, September 23rd ending on Friday, 30th September. If you have students preparing for end-of-year exams in NCEA Levels 1 to 3 English, Maths or Science, let them know that StudyIt forums have reopened:
NCEA help from real students and teachers – StudyIt
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau,
Today the world mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. As many tributes flow and our governments flags fly at half mast, we can reflect on the words of Cardinal Nichols, The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. He recalled the Queen's promise, on her 21st birthday to devote her life to the service of her people. "Now, seventy-five years later, we are heartbroken in our loss at her death, and so full of admiration for the unfailing way in which she fulfilled that declaration," stated the Cardinal.
He expressed his sorrow and his gratitude "for the gift to the world that has been the life of Queen Elizabeth II." He continued, "Our prayer is that she is now received into the merciful presence of God, there to be reunited with her beloved Prince Philip," before concluding his message with a prayer for His Majesty the King, "as he assumes his new office even as he mourns his mother."
"God save the King", concluded the Cardinal.
We are nearing the end of Term 3 and our young people have endured the many hurdles to get to where they are in their academic, cultural or sporting achievements. Over the latter part of this term, it is absolutely essential that all students take stock of what they have achieved and look to work on what needs to be achieved in the very short time left to them. There is no opportunity for delays, but the strong need to show their endurance to reach the goals they have set for themselves.
We have seen many sporting achievements over tournament week and beyond, and it has been great to have the Netball and Rugby prize giving’s back on the agenda this year. All sporting participants have shown endurance and a strong belief in themselves. They have practised hard and reaped the rewards for the efforts they have put into all sporting codes.
They have been guided by expert coaches who have believed in their abilities and strengths and who have given them the opportunity to pursue their goals of reaching the top.
I would put before our young people the challenge of working with the same passion and enthusiasm for their academic achievement so that they can attain the prize of academic success that will open doors for their future careers. It is my desire that every young person who leaves St Peter’s College at Year 13 has obtained University Entrance and has the ability to choose a pathway through Tertiary Study if they so wish. This is to enable them to prepare themselves for a career of their choice well into the future. Our teachers are working tirelessly to ensure that all students have the right guidance, skills and tools to enable them to reach their potential. I urge our parents and caregivers to take the time to speak to your young people about their future and the pathway they are going to choose for themselves. Your advice and guidance is as important for these young boys and girls as they traverse through their secondary education here at St Peter’s College. We are working with you to enable the best outcome for them.
We acknowledge that the paths may not be easy, that there will be obstacles, there will be disappointments, but also know that only through endurance can positive outcomes be possible. We believe in the abilities of our young people and will work alongside you to encourage them to succeed in everything they undertake. We want them to run the race with confidence knowing that all their efforts focused on the goals they set themselves, will see them reach the podium of a successful future.
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
Tournament week has given over a 100 of our students the opportunity to travel and play teams from other regions around the South Island. We have been very lucky to have had Football, Rugby, Netball and Hockey all being played this week and we are so very thankful for all the parent and staff support who have helped make these events happen. Being a part of a school sports team is an effective way to build a sense of community as it enhances relationships between students, teachers, the school and supporting families. And as a Catholic community, sport helps students to grow in maturity and attitude, such as caring for the opponent, playing honestly, and smiling under pressure. Sport teams provide a controlled, supervised environment in which to monitor and encourage these Christian attitudes. Being a part of a sports team enables students to learn the art of losing gracefully (not trying to place blame on others, not making excuses) as well as winning gracefully (congratulating the other team, giving praise to God, not boasting). So the fun continues with a girls rugby tournament in Dunedin today, the year 7 & 8 rugby boys to Queenstown for the weekend and the year 7 & 8 basketball boys are off to Tauranga on Sunday for the AIM’s games. I am very privileged to be going along with them so will be away for all of next week but will be contactable by phone and email if needed.
Over the next few weeks our senior students will be working towards their school exams. These are critical, and every student should attend their exam, and try their very best to complete each one. The results for these exams may have to be used for a derived grade if the NZQA exams at the end of the year cannot be attended due to injury, illness or a sudden event. As students work towards the school exams, stress and anxiety levels can rise. The New Zealand Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ https://mentalhealth.org.nz/five-ways-to-wellbeing is a great resource and has some simple tips for supporting yourself and whānau.
We pray for our seminarian, Joseph Nguyen, who will be ordained as a Priest tomorrow in Auckland at Sacred Heart Church. A small contingent from Gore will be there in support and we are blessed to be able to attend this very special and spiritual ceremony.
As we celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate that it is the parents who are the first teachers of their children and that parents will continue to teach and guide their children long after they have left our school grounds. So, to our parent community, thank you. Thank you for being the base and an integral part of our community. Thank you for supporting the staff at St Peter’s College who work with and alongside your children to ensure that they develop the skills and attributes to be equipped and empowered to pursue personal excellence. So that they will be prepared to challenge and shape the future, whilst being a young person of Mercy and Charity who acts justly, loves tenderly and walks humbly with our God.
God our Father,
We give you thanks and praise for fathers young and old.
We pray for young fathers, newly embracing their vocation;
may they find courage and perseverance
to balance work, family and faith in joy and sacrifice.
We pray for fathers around the world
whose children are lost or suffering;
may they know that the God of compassion
walks with them in their sorrow.
We pray for men who are not fathers
but still mentor and guide us with fatherly love and advice.
We remember fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers
who are no longer with us
but who live forever in our memory
and nourish us with their love.
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the very sad passing of Fiona Glover, mother of our Quinn Morrison in year 7 and teacher at Pukerau school. It was only a couple of weeks ago that we chatted on the phone, and I know many of you who knew her will have similar recent memories of spending time with her or seeing her at her school. Our prayers are with John, Quinn and the two younger boys at Gore Main school. A tragedy such as this brings many schools and communities together and I know we all grieve in unison. May she rest in peace.
We also mourn the unexpected passing of Joan Burrows this week, sister in law of Julie Burrows and dear grandmother to our Phoenix Marshall in year 10. May she rest in peace.
Having 7 days Covid sick leave has given me a lot of time for reflection on what is important in schools and what isn’t, what needs to be done and what can wait or be deleted, what so many of us are going through in our community whether it be personally or through our workplaces. I always tell others that “life is too short” and “you only live once” and so I have spent some time thinking about what I am grateful for both personally and in my work.
Firstly, I am grateful for the humbling and privileged position I hold in this school. I will always strive to do right by our students and our community with the Holy Spirit guiding my way. However, I will not remain in this position if I do not feel most of the students, staff and parents have the faith in me needed to lead. My door is always open, and I would prefer to lean in and hear if there is unhappiness or disappointment in the decisions that are being made in the day to day running of the school. If you hear from others that they are also unhappy then please encourage them to come and have that conversation. We do not know if there are problems if you do not tell us. We will not be defensive, we will listen and do our best to work together to achieve solutions. You should always feel safe enough to be honest in a Catholic school.
Secondly, I am grateful to my senior leadership team and administrative support team for running the school in my absence. Their commitment and expertise ensured that tough decisions could still be made, important meetings could still take place, events continued to be planned and run. I am in no ways indispensable and appreciate that the leaders around me are capable, kind and compassionate. You have made my life easier this past week.
Thirdly, I am grateful to our students for carrying on and preparing for some exciting events coming up like Tournament week, senior examinations, speech competitions and sports break ups. I have received some hilarious and heart-warming emails from many of you over the last few days, anything from asking me to get new blinds for a classroom to saying how they didn’t like seeing my door shut every day. It has made me feel loved, appreciated and not forgotten about!
Lastly, I am grateful to our teachers and support staff. Over half have already experienced Covid and after their 7 days or more had to return to busy classrooms and piled up workloads, communications, and emails to catch up on and students to settle back into routines. Having experienced “brain fog” myself over the last few days, going to do something or write something down and then it completely leaving my thoughts has been a new experience and one that is hard to manage when you have 25 students all vying for your attention at once. I cannot stress enough the toll that nearly three years of Covid has taken on the teaching profession. We are working under increased demands with limited resources. It is like working with a 100 browser tabs open in your brain! Part of this overload is associated with not knowing what lies ahead and how to prepare students for an uncertain future. All schools in New Zealand are about to embark on some serious curriculum changes and all High Schools are going to have to grapple with changes to NCEA that will have huge implications for how we handle high stakes national assessment. This is why the government have given us extra teacher only days this year, one of which is today. The time given to work through these changes is extremely valuable to our professional development to ensure your students get the best deal in the future.
Teachers across New Zealand nearing retirement age are in the 1000’s and there are not 1000’s of young replacements coming through to replace them. At a recent teacher graduates day in Dunedin, there were more principal’s there looking to recruit them than there were students. In all industries that you all work in you will know that it is hard to find good staff who want to work above and beyond at the expense of their free time. This is no different in education, but in education all staff must work above and beyond, and they do. I am proud to say that we have amazingly committed staff who genuinely care about the wellbeing and achievement of our students. If we lose them due to stress and burnout, there are few replacements waiting in the wings. Our teachers have shown themselves to be resilient and adaptive through this pandemic but there is always a toll to be paid in our personal, emotional, spiritual, and physical lives. I can promise you that teachers and teacher aides do not do this job for the money or the holidays - this job is a vocation. Sadly, it is a vocation that is becoming harder to live up to.
What can be done:
I would like to congratulate the First XV Rugby team on their momentous win over Southland Boys High in the U18 Development grade final on Saturday. I asked you last week to turn out in support and you did, I heard and saw on video that many of you came, as did many of our past pupils and families along with our teachers and other community members. How exciting to be bagpiped in and have our up-and-coming year 7 & 8 players run alongside their “big brothers.” I am so proud of the way our boys have conducted themselves on and off the field and as I have consistently been saying, playing for and wearing the St Peter’s College crest every week shows leadership and pride in our school and this would be lost if we ever had to combine with other schools. I would like to sincerely thank the coaches, Ben Sanson and Ben Millar for their dedication and commitment to the boy’s week in and week out. A huge thanks also goes out to our manager, Eugene O’Neill who was always there to help out and encourage. To the parents and supporters there at the games, thank you. And last but not least, words cannot express how much Mrs Julie Watkins puts into Rugby at St Peter’s College, not just during the season but every week of the school year, planning, organising, ordering uniforms and supplies and being on call 24/7 to the parents and players to make every game a successful one. It was her determination supported by our Rugby Committee members this year that ensured every boy and girl who wanted to play rugby this year, got to play, and with over 130 players in our school from a roll of 440, that is an amazing feat.
I would like to thank you all for the support in keeping mask wearing at school compulsory. I have been very proud of the way students have leant into the sometimes discomfort of this to ensure the health and safety of all around them. We never know who around us is immuno-compromised or who is living with at risk family members at home. Not all schools were able to achieve mask wearing for as long as we have, and I know that this came down to us all truly living our Catholic values by putting others before ourselves. With cases now declining with only 12 student positive cases this term and with winter starting to lift and therefore hopefully winter illnesses abating we will move to masks being highly recommended as opposed to compulsory as of Monday the 29th of August. If students or staff are displaying mild cold symptoms, we will ask that masks please continue to be worn until no longer infectious.
Charity Fulfils the Law