Kia ora e te whanau,
It is the end of term two and just over the halfway point for our senior students in their journey towards NCEA achievement for 2021. Some key indicators that will signal to you as parents and caregivers if your child is on track to achieve this year is dependent on their course and whether it is portfolio based or more internally or externally weighted. In general, your child should be sitting on at least 40 credits at this stage in the year and have an attendance rate of over 85%. If you are concerned that your child is falling behind these key parameters, please get in touch with their year level learning tutor to co-construct a plan going forward. We are here to help.
One of the strongest predictors of high academic achievement is linked with student’s motivation to doing their best as opposed to doing just enough. These different approaches to learning are firmly embedded in the NCEA system. They are the difference between going for just an Achieved, versus aiming for Merit and Excellence when they are capable. This means spending their study time after school wisely. A key learning ethic requires self-discipline and the drive to know that doing just enough is viewed as under performance.
There will be those of you reading this now that will be thinking but what if doing your best is just not enough? What about those with special learning needs, disorders, and other difficulties? What about those from low socio-economic backgrounds or those that lack financial and parental support? These are tough propositions but in the words of Winston Churchill, “you must do what is required.” One of our challenges as parents and as a school is focussed on improving our best, sometimes called “raising the bar.” If we never expect our children to attempt more than they currently can do, while giving them certainty, it will not lead to them fulfilling their potential. Now is not the time, in their most important years at school, to take a back seat and let your child decide when they will be bothered to attend school or complete homework. They are still children and need our guidance to “raise the bar.”
We have seen many examples of students raising the bar this week and last nights Eisteddfod concert was a culmination of individuals, teams and families working hard together to perform at their very best. I would like to thank our Eisteddfod co-ordinator, Mrs Laura Thomas and our Arts co-ordinator, Mrs Stephanie Matheson especially, for their tireless leadership of this event that takes many weeks of planning. My sincere thanks also goes out to Ms Prue Scorgie who was recognised last night for her many years of service to the Eisteddfod.
Have a restful and happy holiday break.
Kia ora e te whanau,
Once again, Eisteddfod week and St Peter’s College feast day is upon us, and it is fantastic to see the students involved take on the challenge of entering events that may take them outside of their comfort zones. It is also amazing to see the more established talent from students in our school who are really able to showcase their gifts. A huge amount of organisation goes into this event, from the lighting and sound to the crowd control and timetabling. We are so lucky to have such generous support from within our community in attending to many of these areas, as well as those people who come in and judge each section. My sincere thanks also goes out to the many school staff that spend a lot of hours outside their teaching load to ensure this event is successful and supportive of all students, especially Mrs Laura Thomas our new Eisteddfod coordinator, who has worked tirelessly. And last but not least without our Year 13’s taking a lead role across the many duties required, including delivering morning teas to the judges, keeping guard on doorways and cheering on our younger students, the Eisteddfod would not be as special as it is.
It is also the time of Matariki in New Zealand, and it is great to see many of our junior classes embracing this celebration in their learning programmes. Staff have also gotten involved with a special professional development session being run for us last week by our Kaiawhina, Whaea Vanessa. The pre-dawn rise of Matariki, also known as the Seven Sisters or Pleiades, traditionally signals the Māori New Year under the Maramataka, or lunar calendar. In general, the celebration of Matariki starts when the first new moon can be seen following the rise of Matariki. Traditionally Matariki was both a time to commemorate those who had passed on and to celebrate a time of plenty when stores were abundant from horticulture, hunting and fishing. I am sure we all look forward to this being recognised as a public holiday next year!
Lowness of winter sun,
thin-ness of shadows,
paleness of winter sky,
now praise the Lord.
Bareness of cherry tree,
spent husks of harakeke
now praise the Lord.
Now in the dropping,
now in the deepening,
now in the loosening,
God’s name be sung.
Now in the leaving,
now in the losing,
now in the ending,
God be our home.
Whirring of tui-wings
chirping of sparrows,
wheeling of seagulls’ flight
now praise the Lord.
Squelching of muddy grass,
yielding of sodden moss,
puddles and dripping blades,
now praise the Lord.
Now in the star-rise,
now in the Little Eyes,
now in the dawn-watch
God’s name be known.
Now in the story-ing,
now in the sky-gazing,
now in the waiata
God’s love be sung.
Coldness of shadow,
lateness of light
swiftness of sunset,
now praise the Lord.
Fierceness of frosty night
hardness of icy earth,
wildness of southerly,
now praise the Lord.
Now in the grounding,
now in the falling,
now in the dying,
God’s Name be known.
In the remembering,
in the relinquishing,
in the returning,
God be our home.
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.
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.