Kia ora e te whanau
In my last newsletter I discussed the many challenges our young men face in our schools and in society and received some really encouraging feedback from parents and teachers in recognising these challenges and wanting to know more about what can be done to limit some of these terrible statistics. This week I want to turn my attention towards the females in our school as I reflect on some of the trials they face on a daily basis at school and in the community.
The general statistics show a strong correlation between behavioural consequences and self esteem:
It is not always easy as parents and educators to communicate easily with teenage girls around their inner thoughts but what young women most want is...
Low self esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behaviour. Body image is a component of self-esteem and is about how you think and feel about your body and looks.
Other ways to support your daughters, nieces, sisters and granddaughters are to be involved in their social media and internet usage, turn TV off at dinner time, teach them to be critical of images e.g. photo shop and air brushing, show them how “ideal” body shapes have changed over time, avoid weight related comments about yourself and others, watch for any strange, excessive or limited eating patterns, have regular family meals and Dads, you need to get involved too.
We look toward a short and busy term - many calendared events are currently being looked at carefully to see what can and cannot go ahead in Level 2 - which is not looking likely to change before the end of the school year. We will keep you posted on any upcoming changes, particularly around Prizegiving and other end of year celebrations as soon as we can.
Have a lovely Labour weekend.
Charity fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
The view from my office each morning is absolutely spectacular……..
I am so grateful every single day to be the Principal of such an outstanding school, to work alongside fantastic teachers and to see our students growing and excelling every day. There have been many achievements this term but what I am most proud of is the way our students have come back from lockdown without a fuss and have quickly got back into the routines of school life. There have been many disappointments in the cancellations and postponements of school, cultural and sporting events but our young people have shown resilience and fortitude since returning. I think we are all grateful to be back at school.
Recently a teacher lamented to me about the behaviour of our young boys at St Peter’s College and this surprised me greatly. It did get me reflecting however on if we offer the best service and education to our boys as we do to our girls. As a female I know there is a certain bias in my thinking, but I have also had experience in teaching in a boy’s school and know that they do indeed have different needs.
The general statistics show, unfortunately, that there is this deep and growing inequality between the genders in almost all areas of life. So, what are some of the general and anecdotally disturbing statistics:
And many more trends as parents, especially mothers fear for the future of their sons. If our Covid parent has taught us anything, it is that the future of secondary boys learning will be found...
Our job is to educate boys to become relational men. If we educate boys to be strong, well-qualified, relational men then they will empower their future daughters to be leaders in boardrooms!
If we are to articulate what St Peter's College is about..it would have to be that genderised idea that our NZ boys, our St Peter’s men deserve an equal deal as their sisters.
It has been a hard term of disruption for the school. Parents you have to be proud of your children in what they do with everything cancelled. Character in the making. Thank you to all our teachers who have worked so hard with routines disrupted and personal connection cancelled. Thank you to our families who speak so positively about St Peter's College and Rosmini House out in the community. Enjoy the holidays!
See you Monday 18th October at 8.45 am.
Charity fulfils the Law
Kia ora e te whanau
I received an email recently where the writer noted that “old-fashioned is in fashion.” What an interesting statement! Generally, we associate fashions as moving quickly and we discard things, not because something is broken or worn out, but because someone says we need to – it's out of fashion. We don’t have time to get bored, every season we’re convinced the “new look” is what we need to have, and we believe it. Thinking back to the baggies, mullet hairstyles and camel nomads (all the rage in 80’s), perhaps this is a good thing! But what else is being promoted as unfashionable?
It is timely, as we come together to celebrate our Mercy Day today, to reflect on this. Catherine McAuley, founder of the Mercy Sisters, was called to educate poor girls, to leave school “Caring for the poor, uneducated and disadvantaged in whatever cultural or social context it operates.” While a philosophy forged some 200 years ago, it is every bit as relevant today as it was then. At St Peter’s, this informs what we teach our young people as being “in fashion.”
A St Peter’s student….
Our Mercy traditions, built on the foundations laid by the many outstanding Sisters and lay staff and supported by families who are involved, as well as the wider St Peter’s community, are acknowledged and celebrated today. As a College, we are confident that if our graduates leave having achieved the things listed above, they will be able to stand tall in any situation, and certainly, we will have succeeded in growing a great adult – something which will never be out of fashion!
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kai ora e te whanau
This week all around the motu (country) we celebrated Maori language week, and the theme was ‘Te Kupu o te Wiki’ – “The Word of the Week.’ We have had many opportunities this week to broaden our horizons and cherish the language and we will continue to work towards a more equal partnership and relationship with Mana Whenua.
Each week all teachers commit to a professional learning session that we call ‘tikanga time’ and this is led by Mrs Victoria Kelly with assistance from our Kaiawhina, Whaea Vanessa. Almost all teachers are now able to recite their pepeha without reading from a piece of paper and we enjoy incorporating our Catholic traditions with Maori history. We had a particularly special session this week run by Mrs Bridget Ryan on Bishop Pompallier’s arrival to Aotearoa’s shores in the Hokianga, our Catholic birthplace in New Zealand.
It was timely then this week that we welcomed the Catholic special character review team to St Peter’s College. The team consisted of retired principal, Mr Paul Richardson, Catholic schools’ manager, Mr Callan Goodall and Director of Religious Studies from Kavanagh College, Mr Pesamino Tili. Our Kapa Haka group welcomed the team on Monday in a Mihi Whakatau with haka and waiata. The review team praised us for the bi-cultural strength and flavour in the school.
We will receive their full report and recommendations in due course, but some highlights fed back to us already include:
- “Inspired by the student executive team. Excellent engagement from the servant leadership council”
- “A community of volunteers- that’s just what we do”
- “Strengths come through from St Mary’s”
- “Emphasis on the whole person. Excellent pastoral care.”
I am very proud of the way the students have returned to school from lockdown, happy to see each other and re-engage with their teachers. Seniors are committed to achieving enough credits to pass this year and move on to their next goals in life. With this type of disruption and uncertainty however, there is more room for the dangers of anxiety and depression creeping in for our young people. Their sense of hope for the future has been rocked again and it can be easy to dwell on the terrible statistics we see coming out of many countries around the world in relation to Covid deaths and so forth, not to mention the worrying trends of climate change and other natural disasters around the world.
There is no doubt that depression and anxiety abound in most young people’s lives. The WHO reports that "by 2023 depression will be the second most common cause of premature death world wide..." We know that depression and feelings of helplessness are real and all-consuming to our young people.
+ Being a little stressed is healthy
+ Being a little anxious is ok
+ Being depressed is NOT ok
There is a reason why the phrase
“Be Not afraid”
occurs 365 times in the scriptures! Fear is a daily activity.
Kia ora e te whanau,
Welcome back to school at Level 2! It was so great to see the students and staff back yesterday and while not all teenagers will admit it, I think they were pretty happy to be back too. Thank you to all of you parents and caregivers who have been the “home school teachers” over the last three weeks. Parents are the unsung heroes of lockdown. Navigating the varying challenges of each Alert Level has at times been difficult for New Zealanders, and we can all be proud to have successfully navigated these challenges in our community.
Like last time, I am very mindful of the extra time our students and staff have been glued to their computers and how unhealthy this can be. While we are lucky to live in the 21st century and have the technological advances that enable us to connect via distance to learn from anywhere, this is not without its dangers. Recently a parent shared with me a Radio NZ article that spoke of a new study that links digital devices to poorer achievement. International data is showing us that an over reliance and use of computers to learn in the classroom is leading teenagers to do worse in reading, maths, and science. Now that we are back in school it is important that we find the right balance, use technology well and appropriately. This means not using computers for gaming and time filling activities like scrolling through social media.
St Peter’s College teachers have met countless expectations over lockdown by going above and beyond, many with their own children they were also trying to “home school” while teaching yours. They did this with aligned purpose and passion, exceeding the daily expectations of teachers. They have made me very proud, and I am lucky to work with such committed people every day for your child. Please know that while I hold high expectations for our teachers, they hold even higher expectations for themselves. This often leads to late nights and weekends away from their families.
We give you praise, O God, for everything that is new and beautiful, for everything which holds promise and brings us joy.
Bless us as we return to school to be with our friends and teachers. Help us to make the most of every chance we have to start afresh.
May we show love to one another and to all. May the new beginning of this week remind us that you give us chances to start over again and again.
Help us to forgive others as we receive your forgiveness. Help us to learn and to work together.
Help us to listen when we should and to know the best words when we speak and when it is better not to speak.
We thank you for our friends: Help us to be good friends this year.
Help us to be patient with ourselves and with others.
Bless our school and keep us safe. Be with us as we travel each day.
Help us to be aware of your love shown to us in the people around us. Bless all those who care for us in school and at home. Help us show our care for them and to say sorry when we need to.
May the Blessed Mother Mary protect us
“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Kia ora e te whanau,
Outside the family, there isn't any other youth institution that equals sports as a setting in which to develop character. All of our sports teams help to build the culture of our school and wearing the St Peter’s College crest on the turf, field or court is a positive, character-building experience. The school and sporting culture is the same here. Sport culture is school culture. We value excellence in sports, but we value attitude over aptitude. We reinforce our school's values through sports. At St Peter’s College it is not about winning at any cost, and it is most certainly not about playing for other clubs or entertaining thoughts of merging with other schools to be “better,” “seen,” and “number one.” Our students want to play with their friends, and they are proud to wear our school colours. We see this in the haka before a game, in the practices and through the many warm up hoodies and tops that are designed with our school crest front and centre by our students.
The values we are teaching in our curriculum are complemented by what happens in sports. These teachable moments come when players achieve or fall short of their sporting goals, and when coaches help them process the cause and effect of what they have just done. But teachable moments also come in the interludes, in practice, during team travel, while troubleshooting or even shooting the breeze — when coaches can teach students life lessons in persistence, teamwork, sacrifice, effort, discipline, leadership, and in overcoming adversity.
I have coached many sporting teams over my years in education because I am thankful for the teachers who did that for me when I was at school. I want to pay this kindness forward, but I also have a passion for seeing kids improve and achieve success no matter how small. As all good teacher coaches know, relationships are built on the court, turf or field and the students you coach are always the best behaved in our classes. They work harder for you knowing you work hard for them.
Students might be able to learn the value of teamwork in a lab setting, but it's easier to teach the value of teamwork through sports. You get immediate feedback to reinforce your lack of preparation, for example, or the value of hard work. When you get that publicly, maybe in the media, and on the scoreboard, it brings the lesson home even quicker.
Therefore, sports are a fundamental part of the total curriculum at St Peter’s College, fulfilling our motto of 'Charity Fulfils the Law.’ The objectives of coaches and teachers are identical: to help young people reach their fullest potential intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Accordingly, sportsmanship, the demonstration of appropriate conduct, honest rivalry, and graceful acceptance of the outcome is as important as the full development of athletic skills. Critical to these teachings is the expectation that our community as well as our athletes will demonstrate respect for everyone involved in athletic competition. This is why I am extremely proud of all of our rugby teams this year for ranking highly on the STAG awards this year. STAG stands for “Spectator and Team Award for Great Behaviour.” Rugby Southland put this incentive in place this year to encourage positive team culture and behaviour in our secondary school competition. Our U17 and U15 teams came in second and our U14 team came in third. Culture determines behaviour and this is evidence that we have a fantastic school and sport culture. I would like to thank all of our spectators, supporters, managers and most importantly our coaches as we look towards the end of winter sports season. I wish all of our teams the very best of luck in their semi finals and finals but most of all I wish for them to display our culture with pride and with fair play.
Lastly a reminder that to conclude our community consultation on the strategic plan I would like to specifically invite parents and caregivers of our Maori families to a whanau hui on Wednesday the 18th of August in the staffroom at 7pm to share some kai and have a shared dialogue on the direction you would like to see the school go in over the next three years. All parents and caregivers welcome, not just Maori.
Kia ora e te whanau
The Board of Trustees is currently in the midst of planning the schools strategic plan and goals for the next three years. We thank everyone who has shared their feedback and views in the recent online surveys, and it was also very valuable to have a discussion session with our servant leadership students on where they see the direction of St Peter’s College. This is the perfect time therefore to reflect on what we want a St Peter’s College graduate to be and plan for how they get there. All parents worry about their child’s future and how they will turn out in life, and we are here as teachers to support that journey.
From my perspective I believe all young people turn out well if they and their whanau commit to four aspects of school life:
1. They attend school every day from Year 7 right to the last day of Year 13.
2. They play a sport or participate in an extra curricula activity for their community.
3. They never experiment with drugs.
4. Their parents are involved in their education.
I could almost guarantee life success if these four conditions are followed. These four conditions cover four important areas of life:
1. Academic resilience.
2. Teamwork and community.
4. Example and encouragement.
So, what do I think is the St Peter’s College graduate? How would I describe her or him?
1. A person of courage: faces issues head on, speaks out about injustice, always completes tasks.
2. A person of hope: Life is always better tomorrow. Never wallows in failures or past mistakes.
3. A person of service: Has learnt that life is about giving back to their community, their family, their school. Life is about the other person - not themselves.
4. A person who is authentic: Has taken on board the St Peter’s College values of Community, Commitment and Compassion. Says yes instead of no.
5. A person that knows life comes from God: Knows we will eventually return to him, lives with gratitude and daily prayer.
6. A person who has to gain academic credentials: Wants to be equal with others in New Zealand and in the world, in their chosen career.
7. A person who understands teamwork and community: Makes sensible personal decisions and is not swayed by public opinion or the latest fads.
If we insist on this bigger picture of life and the four conditions for living it, we will continue to produce excellent young people who exemplify these characteristics.
To conclude our community consultation on the strategic plan I would like to specifically invite parents and caregivers of our Maori families to a whanau hui on Wednesday 18th August in the staffroom at 7pm to share some kai and have a shared dialogue on the direction you would like to see the school go in over the next three years. All parents and caregivers welcome, not just Maori.
Thank you to those students and families who registered an interest in the April 2022 Cultural Hikoi to Northland as explained in a recent email home. Registrations have now closed, and successful applicants will be notified next week, with a meeting arranged for parents and students with more details. Due to the length of time away and potential demands of this hikoi the decision has been made to restrict the age of students attending to Years 9 and above in 2022. For the Year 7 and 8 students missing out this time there will be further opportunities like this in the future. I would like to thank all the staff who have put so much of their own time and effort into the planning of this event already.
Kia ora e te whanau
Welcome back to term 3! This term promises to be jam packed with sports finals, tournaments, curriculum trips and many other community events. It will be a busy time for our students, so it is important to monitor the time spent at home catching up on study and homework to ensure they do not fall behind on their school work which must come first.
Sports is an integral part of the holistic education here at St Peter’s College. We strive to nurture and educate the whole child and by providing opportunities to participate and compete in many teams we believe we are preparing our young people for life. Representing the school is more than just playing a sport, children learn a sense of pride, respect, discipline and a camaraderie with their peers that helps build up a strong school culture. Sometimes our students are invited to play in teams away from the school, sometimes our students are even offered spots in other schools to play in their teams because they are seen as better. I am deeply proud of our students who commit to wearing our school crest on their chest when they go out to play and represent. Our students are a community who want to play together and live our values out on the field, court and turf with pride. I would like to thank the many coaches, managers and committee members who support our teams. These are the adults in our community that continue the seamless Catholic values in their coaching and leadership that we also work so hard to instil in the classroom. It is a partnership that ensures our students can be the best they can be in all areas.
I hope you have been enjoying watching the Olympic games on TV at the moment. Despite the pandemic, we are so lucky to be witnessing some excellent examples of what can happen when you work hard towards your goals, and it has been impressive to see so many teenagers compete in this year’s games. The International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are committed to building a better world through sport. They aim to ensure that the spirit of fair play prevails, and to act against any form of discrimination that affects the Olympic movement. They also encourage and support the development of sport for all. It is good to compete. When we take part in sports at school, regional or national level, or even just in competition among friends, it is important to remember the ethos of the very first Olympic Games of Ancient Greece: to follow the rules and to compete fairly without cheating. The Bible also reflects this by telling us “anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2.5).
Thank you to all of you who shared your views on the proposed amendment to our uniform policy on students getting Ta Moko or or other cultural tattoo’s like Pe’a. Over 150 students responded, 40 staff and 23 parents with the overwhelming majority of you being in favour of students being able to display their culture in this way. Consultation also took place at the Board level and with the local runaka, and after much research and dialogue we will be adding the following to our uniform policy:
The St Peter's College uniform policy will allow for students who wish to have visible (partially or fully) traditional cultural tattoo Ta Moko, Pe'a etc whilst at school, to do so, however all cultural tattoos must comply and adhere to established cultural values and tikanga. St Peter's have engaged Mana Whenua (Hokonui Runanga), student, staff, and community voice to establish what this tikanga will be for our school, and any student wishing to have such a tattoo, will need to satisfy the below pre-conditions.
1. A student will need to establish lineage or whakapapa back to a known Hapu or Iwi.
2. A student must have the permission of both caregivers.
3. A student will also require the permission of their Koro, or person acting in that capacity. This elder will need to be able to grant permission on behalf of their Hapu or Iwi (or be able to seek such permission from the appropriate person), for the use of the design and placement of the tattoo by the student. This is to ensure Hapu or Iwi ownership of designs have been protected. Where the tattoo artist or other person has developed their own design, permission must still be gained in the same way.
4. A meeting will be held involving the student, caregivers, and Principal to discuss the features and the whakapapa that the Ta Moko represent.
Where one or more of these conditions cannot be met, in extenuating circumstances an application may made to the Principal and BOT who will consult Mana Whenua Tikanga.
Failure to comply with this policy will result in the student being required to cover up the tattoo or tattoos while wearing the school uniform and/or representing the school in any sporting or cultural events and activities. If the student refuses to cover up this refusal will result in disciplinary actions including stand down and/or suspension to the Board of Trustees.
Mana Whenua stress that Ta Moko should only be considered for those students at the end of a journey of cultural self-discovery as they represent a whakapapa and connection that needs to be established and well considered.
We will also be amending the same uniform policy to reflect our stance that all students may wear the girls or boys uniform depending on their preference and comfort.
We pray that our dealings with others will always be accompanied by respect and fairness.
Having ambition is important, but in our desire to be the fastest, highest and strongest,
Let us not forget that true success cannot be achieved at the expense of others.
Charity Fulfils the Law
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.