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Nau mai, haere mai, talofa lava, malo e lelei, bula vinaka, kia orana, warm greetings

A warm welcome back to our final term of the year, term 4. It is hard to believe we are already into our final term. The focus for our senior students is clearly ensuring they finish well and gain the final credits they require to complete their qualifications for the year. We completed our final round of predictive grades for Years 11-13. We have been very impressed with the number of boys who have steadily improved throughout the year and are now in a position to achieve well. As has been previously reported this year, our senior students have to earn the right to go on study leave, via our process of predictive grades we have identified a group of senior students that will be asked to stay on after study leave and continue working with our staff to ensure they achieve and finish the year with the appropriate qualifications. We would appreciate your support in this new initiative aimed at lifting achievement.

We have a number of major events this term as we farewell our Year 13 students. This can be quite an emotional time for our senior students and their families. The highlight is our whole school celebration and graduation, which will be held at the Wigram Airforce Museum on Monday 29 October, at 6pm. This is a compulsory event for all of our students, as well as celebrating, not only our prize winners, but the graduation of our Year 13 students as we acknowledge their contribution here, as part of our whanau, here at St Thomas’.

On Monday, at assembly, we were blessed to have Mike King speak to our students around his life journey and, in particular, mental health. It was a fantastic speech which engaged our students for 90 minutes. Mike’s key message was for our boys to understand we all have an inner critic, and the key to managing our mental health is to understand the part our inner critic plays in our wellbeing, especially to identify when our inner critic is having too much of an influence over our thought process. Mike also challenged our students to look after their mates, and to watch out for signs when our mates might need someone to talk too.

Tonight we celebrate our sportsmen at our annual sports awards dinner. It is always a fantastic evening of celebration, not just for those who have succeeded, but also for those that have supported our young men to achieve their goals. I would like to acknowledge, in advance, Mr Nev Brooker, Mr Daniel Kahura and our Director of Sport, Mr Daniel O’Brien, for all of their wonderful work throughout the year, and also in organising tonight’s event.

Over the holidays we hosted a number of Catholic and Edmund Rice schools from throughout New Zealand participating in the Street Retreat, which is an event to raise awareness around the plight of our homeless. I would like to thank Mr Stephen Kennedy, Ms Angela Smith and Mr Marty Taylor for giving up their holiday time to enable our young people have this amazing experience.

Our U15 Rugby team travelled to Japan and played four games over the holidays, winning all four, as well as sampling Japanese life and culture. Our students were great ambassadors for our school and our country, and learnt a great deal about Japanese culture. A huge thank you to our three staff members who travelled with our boys and gave them this opportunity to experience a new culture, Mr Dean Smith, Mr Chris Leader, and Mr Daniel O’Brien.

As we move into the summer months and the end of the year looms, our key message to our young men has been to finish well, have no regrets and be the best version of themselves that they can be.