Kia ora e te whanau
Term one done and dusted! What an amazing number of events we have been able to fit into term one- from sports trials, tournaments, production try outs and practices to NCEA internal assessments, PAT testing, athletics competitions, retreats, the senior ball and Masses to name just a few. Term one is often our busiest time of the year and it sets the scene for how we go forward. A huge thank you goes out to all our staff, parents and volunteers who make these events so successful and smooth running.
With great beginnings there also comes sad endings and farewells. Today we farewell two very special teachers, Mrs Janine Heads who has been here for eight and a half years, and Mrs Jan Bridgman who has served for an outstanding 44 years. Last night staff had the opportunity to attend a dinner in honour of them both and hearing their journeys one last time was a privilege for us all. Janine will be sadly missed by us all but in particular by her Science teachers and students. Her leadership, knowledge and qualities have enabled eight years of strong senior Physics, Science and Chemistry results and a long list of students who have continued on in life with a passion for Science and learning. Jan’s commitment to Catholic education for 44 years is almost unheard of in educational institutions and is a testament to her dedication, wisdom, abilities and kindness to the teaching profession. This lengthy service has meant that Jan has taught three generations of some of our families. We also farewell our school chaplain today, Fr Damian Wynn-Williams, who is retiring from the Gore Parish. Fr Damian has been a leader, model and servant to us all. We give thanks to God for you and wish you well in your retirement.
Recently we had our senior ball, and it was a magical evening for our students and families who attended but it is time to re-evaluate how this is run, in particular who attends. Please click on the link below if you would like to have a say in how our ball is run in future years:
Term one has had many highlights but most of all I would like to recognise the individuals who received Excellence endorsements at our Blue’s Assembly this term (see below). These students worked hard and set goals to achieve their very best. Academic excellence is our core business, and these students epitomise all our efforts:
With $70,000 in scholarships being given out to our year 13’s of 2020 just from Otago University, it is well worth the effort!
Kia ora e te whanau
It is with sadness that we as a community share in the grief and sorrow of the Hargest family whose beloved husband, father, uncle, and friend passed away last week. Father of two boys, one of them being our student Ben. With a community like ours we are comforted in knowing you are not alone, and we pray to God to be with you and the wider Hargest family at this time.
Easter is the most important season in our Church’s calendar and has a long Judaic/Christian tradition. It is an important time for us as Catholic’s to attend the Masses of the weekend, take time to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for all of humanity, and spend time with our families. I hope I am not the only one saddened by the growing pressure from community groups, politicians and business owners looking to “rub out” our heritage. Whether it be through language, institutions, or cultural practices, there is a growing change in how we treat these seasons. Changing “Merry Christmas” into “Happy Holidays” is just one of many examples we see on cards and in shops.
I feel uneasy when I hear and read in the news the push to have alcohol sold and businesses open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Can we not have just two days to stay home with our families? Must we always be indulged and entertained? It is becoming harder to argue against and I find myself almost apologising for my faith. If we look at this globally, it is even more depressing, the destruction of our Christian churches around the world and the growing consumerism of developed countries. Back here in our educational system it is also obvious in our government withholding funds for maintenance and resources in state-integrated schools that our state schools receive. The political agenda of removing life constraints for the unborn and elderly is only the beginning to a downward trend in society as to what we are no longer supposed to value.
Easter is about our Christian tradition. Jesus, who died on Good Friday, proved he was God on Easter Sunday. We remove that tradition at our own peril and at huge cost. Let us remember that the common good of society, the dignity of the individual, the quest for truth, the notion that law is always about context, the consistent ethic of life, our intellectual tradition....these are the fruits of our Christian/Judaic tradition.
I think there is a reason why Catholic schools have the full up signs. There is a reason why parish churches are making a comeback in faith numbers. There is a reason why parents of school-aged children want an education which is as much about heritage and character as it is about achievement and accolades.
I wish our many players luck this weekend as we go into the Catholic school’s quad tournament hosted here in Gore. A wonderful opportunity to have the young people of four Catholic secondary schools come together as one family in Christ. We begin this celebration at the community Mass at the Blessed Sacrament Church at 9am on Sunday, all welcome. Please see Facebook and the school app for the draws if you would like to come along and support any of the games.
Kia ora e te whanau,
This week at assembly we had a focus on one of our school values- Community!
Our community includes the students, our staff, not just the teachers, but everyone who works here, to help the school run smoothly, our parents, aunties, uncles and cousins and anyone who came to this school before us make up our St Peter’s College community.
We are a diverse group, but we all want the same thing- a top education, whether that be in the sports, academic or cultural fields for all of our students. We are extremely lucky and privileged to have families and parents in our community who support us. When schools, family and communities work together to support the students learning, young people tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.
Families have a major influence on their children’s achievement in school and through life. If it were not for our family’s support, we would not be able to run our school production, our ball, our athletics days or go on camps.
St Peter’s College is one big family, and families as we know have their ups and downs, you may have a grumpy uncle you don’t particularly like or an annoying younger cousin who seems to get better birthday presents, but we still all love our family members, and know that we can go to any of them when we need. School is just like that, students may not always like every teacher they have but they know they are always there to help them, our teachers want our students to achieve and want the best for them always.
Parents and caregivers often ask what they can do to support their child’s education and we know from research that this is a crucial area we as a school need to focus on in supporting families to engage with their child’s learning at home. The following actions that make the biggest difference are straight forward and can be applied by all parents regardless of education or income levels, and do not take much time:
- Hold high but reasonable expectations for your children
- Provide a home that encourages and supports education and a healthy lifestyle
- Role model an interest in books and reading
- Encourage healthy eating and sleeping patterns
Young people discover by example how to learn and succeed. The attitudes and behaviours of parents demonstrate to children how to organise themselves, solve problems, persist to achieve outcomes, remain motivated and have confidence in their abilities. A core focus for us here at St Peter’s College is the wellbeing of all of our staff and students, and we will be sharing with you over future newsletters ways in which you can support your children in regard to bullying and harassment, particularly through digital media.
St Patrick’s day was celebrated in style this week with a get together of staff from St Peter’s and St Mary’s, with their children playing “Leprechaun games” in the school hall, led by some of our student leaders. Thank you to all who helped to make this an awesome Catholic community event.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me……
From a prayer of St Patrick
Kia ora e te whanau
In a previous school I have worked in, the school motto was “Truth is Light.” I always loved this motto, and it was something the students really lived. When we broke a school rule, lied about completing a task or chose to hurt another person, we could be reminded of this motto and be challenged to bring our truths to the light. This is a truism that can be lived by all Catholics, whether we are on the receiving or giving ends.
To be true to ourselves it starts with honesty about who we really are. We have to rationalise less, lay down our defences and confess to ourselves what our real motives are. We need to let go of the strong, dark need to share our side of the story and convince others our motives are more important or are the right ones. All of us have a light side and a shadow side to our personalities and it is human nature to lean towards the shadow side, to darkness and negativity. To come to the light, we need to admit some of the ugliest things about ourselves first and that is not easy to do. We can sometimes be ashamed of our choices, knowing we can be petty and self-serving.
Our school value of compassion encompasses all that we do here at St Peter’s College, but we can all get caught up in the busyness of sports practices, assignments due, work commitments and deadlines, and this can minimise our capacity to show compassion towards each other. When our compassion is undersized, we may be unwilling to love our enemies or forgive those who injure us. We prefer the darkness to the light. In darkness, we can pretend we are better people. We can feel better about ourselves without having to change. But once we come into the light, things have to change. We must change. The good news is, Jesus makes such change possible, even desirable. We become who we have longed to be. And God so loved the world, just for this.
What truths are hardest to admit about ourselves? What kind of people do we long to be?
This week Bishop Michael celebrated our Commissioning Mass with the staff from St Peter’s College and St Mary’s school in our chapel and his sermon resonated with me strongly. For us to be people of the light we must go out of comfort zones and the darkness to partake in acts of goodness. We need to build on the good that has come to us. If someone was merciful to us, we will show mercy to others. If someone was generous, we will give generously. If someone listened to us, we can be present to those in need.
In term 4 of last year, the Education Review Office (ERO) began piloting its new operating model with 75 schools. The new model is intended to shift the focus of ERO’s interaction with schools from event-based external reviews to becoming an evaluation partner that supports each school’s own process of continuous improvement. One important focus of the new approach is strengthening schools’ own engagement with and accountability to whānau. Myself and Board of Trustees chair, Mr Karl Metzler, have already had our first meeting with our new ERO partner, Mrs Christine Gold and we look forward to continuing to build on this mutually beneficial relationship.
Truth is Light!
Kia ora e te whanau
Faith – Love – Hope
Visiting our contributing Catholic primary school, St Mary’s, is always a privilege and an honour. These students are our future and many of our families have children in both schools. We are also lucky to share a learning support coordinator who works on both campuses, to have staff members with children on both campuses, the sharing of our Parish Priest and now our newly appointed seminarian. For me personally I am lucky to have a strong working relationship with my Principal colleague, Mrs Annie Nelson, who works unfailingly to support both of our schools in the Mercy way.
Recently members of the Parish Council and our Proprietor’s representatives on both our Boards of Trustees came together one evening for professional development on the safeguarding of our young people and members of our parish. While the topic was valuable, more valuable for me was the opportunity to read the values statement the St Mary’s staff had put together on their wall. On it was an agreement to unashamedly live by and show action to the values of faith, love and hope. This reminded me of the story of the candles of faith, love and hope:
Candles called faith, love and hope burned quietly on a table. FAITH had burned brightly for a long while but then flickered and eventually died out. It cited the fact that people no longer believed in God, reason and science had replaced God. Anyway, who needs faith in today’s world? We are self-sufficient.
LOVE also burned brightly and then flickered and eventually died out... It cited the knowledge that people were selfish, only interested in themselves and anyway the world, the internet and politics were full of hatred etc!
But HOPE never really burned brightly. It spent most of its time flickering and trying to stay alive. It kept burning despite every obstacle thrown at its flame.
It continually called out - weakly - to the other 2 candles...”I am staying alive so that you, FAITH, and you, LOVE, will eventually start burning again. That is my mission.”
Pope Francis always refers to the future as hope. We can live with many things, but we cannot live without hope. What does this mean for our community at St Peter’s? How do we continue the mission set alight in the younger years of our children at St Mary’s? We can do this through the following:
Parents having hope for their children when they make mistakes and bad choices.
Parents having hope when they work long hours and make sacrifices and worry so their children can have a future.
Young people having hope when they struggle with their identity, their ambitions and the expectations placed upon them.
Sports teams having hope when they go for the final basket or pound towards the finish line.
Teachers having hope during the lonely times late at night making learning easy for their students and keeping student’s expectations high.
Our past parents and students having hope with regards to finance, governance and stewardship, when giving of their personal efforts and skills.
Hope is everything in life. Hope is everything at St Peter’s College. Education at its core is about hope.
Good today, better tomorrow – Charity fulfils the law
Comments from the Principal 26th February 2021
Kia ora e te whanau
Lent – Time to take a step back and notice God more
Submerged in a world of distraction, there are more reasons than ever for young people finding it difficult to practice disciplines that are important for their own growth. We invite our students during this season of Lent to slow down and notice everything around them in the natural world. Notice the ant crawling through the grass. Notice the way we spend our time when it is up to us. Notice the kid who ends up as the punch line of everyone’s jokes.
Above it all, we are inviting them to notice God, the way God is actively at work in and around us each day, the way God speaks through Scripture and through our community, the whispers in the silence, and the shouts from the dramatic sunset. It turns out that paying attention can make all the difference. In the midst of all that noticing, we’re inviting them into practices of faith. These practices, or disciplines, shape us largely because they open up space in our lives to notice, and make meaning of God with us. The more we practice, the more we form patterns and rhythms in our lives that in turn allow the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation. So when we pray, we become more aware of God and what God is doing. When we forgive someone, we notice that God is at work forgiving us too.
Traditionally Lent is a time of fasting, a time of giving something up. Another way to approach Lent is to subtract things so we can add in new things. If we give up an hour of video games, what do we do with those extra 60 minutes? If we give up lattes, what do we do with that money? Maybe it is adding silence and stillness to a life full of noise and movement. Maybe we add prayer when we are usually silent toward God. Maybe God adds passion for serving the poor where we are usually self-absorbed. Subtract and add. Notice more. Lent means subtracting something so that we, or perhaps God, can add something new.
On Monday we had our annual Athletics day, and it was great to see all of the students out there participating in their house colours with pride. I was particularly proud of those students who stayed all day to cheer on their peers and house members in the afternoon relays. A lot of time and effort goes into organising and running an event like this and I would like to thank the PE and Sports department of Ms Janelle Conlan, Mr Ronnie Kotkamp and Ms Jessica Young for their efficient organisation. Our senior student leaders also stepped up to ensure the clean up at the end of the day went smoothly. At St Peter’s College it is a privilege to work with staff and students who just get the job done, serve their community and help each other out without being asked. A special thanks also goes out to all of the parents who came down to support, help run events, and cheer their children on.
This week we had Cyber Safety expert John Parsons in school to spend a day with teachers and students, followed by a session with parents in the evening. John facilitates interactive workshops where he encourages debate and audience participation. He helps students to take ownership of their own wellbeing and become capable, connected and confident in the online world. John leaves parents with the knowledge that helps them relate to and build strong relationships with their children and the school. I particularly enjoyed his messaging around values and faith and how the parent and school partnership of sharing these consistently with our young people ensures they have a solid foundation for making good decisions as adults. We thank all of the parents and caregivers who came along to hear John and meet their child’s teachers.
Thank you to all the parents who came along to our whanau evening on Monday night. John Parsons (Internet Safety and Risk Assessment Consultant) spoke with all students during the day and their feedback was very positive. John spoke about the importance of values in social media use and suggested that we consider the internet to be a place that our children go, just like any other physical space, and to check in with them and talk about that ‘place’ just like we would if they were out and about around town. The staff spent an hour talking with John about our own safety as educators when using digital devices in the classroom, and the important part we play in child protection. We are grateful to the Rotary Club of Invercargill that has sponsored John’s time in Southland. Please talk to your child about what they learned from their session with John Parsons and begin the dialogue about the safe use of digital media at home.
We enjoyed welcoming ex-student Sam Mackay back into school on Wednesday as our guest speaker for the Academic Blues Ceremony. Sam attended St Peter’s College from 1995 until 1999 and during that time he took advantage of public speaking opportunities within Eisteddfod, Bishop’s Shield competitions and MUNA (Model United Nations). Sam gained a Masters in International Law and is soon to graduate from Massey University with an MBA. He spoke with the student body about his experiences working in New Zealand Embassies throughout the world and he encouraged them to consider working or studying overseas to widen their global view of life. Congratulations to the big number of year 12 and 13 students who received an Academic Blue on Wednesday. These students gained an Excellence Endorsement in NCEA last year and need to be acknowledged for commitment to their studies. Some of these students gained up to 100 excellence credits during the year which is no mean feat! They certainly deserve the accolades given them during this ceremony.
Next weekend is our annual College Ball. Make sure you pop along to the hall next Saturday to admire our gorgeous students in their finery as well as the fantastic range of classic cars that always appear!
We are nearing the end of Lent as we move toward Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday next weekend. Encourage your children to do something extra in the remaining two weeks of Lent. Here is some information about Fasting which is one of the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and service.
Not eating meat on Fridays: the rule that Catholics cannot eat meat on Fridays during Lent is not quite right and it is much more lenient now than what most Catholics in history have had to observe. Nowadays meat is only prohibited on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The idea was that Catholics should fast or take light meals and asking to not eat meat was a sure way of ensuring everyone fasting. Now people are asked to fast and can choose what is best for their situation. The purpose of fasting is spiritual focus, self-discipline, in the imitation of Christ and a way of showing sorrow.
Have a blessed weekend and wonderful St Patrick’s Day.
The first few days of term one have been special in many ways. I was privileged to spend time in the company of our Year 13 students and staff at the Year 13 Retreat in Edendale. I am certainly confident that these young men and women are going to be very good ambassadors for our college and wonderful role models for our youngest students. These same students received their leadership badges on Wednesday at our Opening Mass, celebrated by Bishop Colin Campbell. We were very pleased to have Fr Damian, Fr Aidan Cunningham and Fr Liam (visiting from Ireland) assisting Bishop Colin on the altar. Thank you to all the parents who attended this Mass; it is always a very special one for us as we welcome our new students and their families, and our leaders are commissioned for the new school year. Thank you to Brendan Terry (DRS) and his team who coordinated this special occasion.
Waimumu Field Days
Next week, St Peter’s College and Rosmini Boarding House will have a site at the Waimumu Field Days. Please encourage any families you may know who are considering St Peter’s as a secondary school option for their children, to visit us for a chat. Because the field days are an important event on the Southland calendar, we will be closing next Thursday at 12:50pm (end of period 4). Any children who need to remain behind to wait for buses may stay in the library where they will be supervised (please inform the office if you need this to happen). Our staff work hard to prepare effective lessons for a full class of students and therefore we ask that parents take their children to the Field Days in the time we have set aside on Thursday afternoon and ensure that your children are at school for the rest of the three days.
Next week sees the Lenten season begin. We will be having a Liturgy on Wednesday morning in the school hall to commemorate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the forty days of Lent. As always parents are welcome to join us for this at 8:45am. Lent is forty-six days long but generally we don’t count the Sundays, which brings it back to forty days that represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
50th Anniversary Celebrations
We are looking forward to St Peter’s 50th next January, 2019. Organisation is well underway, but we would love to hear from anyone who would like to lend a hand – big or small - to make this a fantastic reunion weekend. If this sounds like you and you can spare a few hours during the coming year, please let the office know and someone from the committee will contact you.
Dates for Your Calendar
This year we have changed the timing of our annual Work Day. Please note that this will be held on the 7th March. All students are expected to contribute to this day, so this is advanced notice to start thinking about this.
Our Year 7-10 Whanau Evening will be held on Monday evening March 12th, 6:30 – 8:30pm. We are pleased to let you know that John Parsons (cybersafety and internet expert) will be part of this evening which also includes an information session and a meet and greet with your child’s learning tutor and form teacher. I encourage everyone with children in years 7-10 to attend this important evening.
Enjoy your weekend,
Welcome to the new school year and our brand new website!
We are pleased to have the opportunity to share more of what happens at St Peter’s with you and to ensure that news and information is relevant, timely, easily accessible and up-to-date.
Please spend time browsing this site and making yourself familiar with the information and ‘quick links’ available to you - I am sure you will enjoy doing this as much as I have during its development.
It is our aim to provide excellent communication with all in our St Peter’s community. Of course, there will be things we may not have thought about and we are keen to hear about your browsing experience. Positives and negatives are always most welcome as we continue to refine our communication with our community.
In particular, our new website includes a Student and Parent Dashboard page. The intention of these pages is to provide one place where you can go to find all the information you need.
To acccess these dashboard pages, go to the school website and look under "dashboards" in the main menu, or go straight to: