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

Good afternoon,

Last week I spent two days gathered in Wellington with our College Captain, Cameron Brewitt, alongside the Principals and College Captains from boys’ schools throughout New Zealand. It was a fantastic conference focused on how to improve the development and achievement of boys in the New Zealand Education system. As a group, we have been part of a large research project based on high- performance culture in a whole education. This is an education focused on character and in our context as a Catholic School, our faith. What was very evident is, in a New Zealand context, we hold character based education very highly and in a context here at St Thomas, it is a central focus. Our belief is that we are developing young men based on gospel values through the lens of our Edmund Rice Charism. It is always in the forefront of our thinking when developing curriculum and strategic planning for the future.

On Tuesday, we held a very successful Open Day. Feedback certainly focused on how well our students demonstrated to our prospective parents all that we value as a school. What is very clear is that we will have more applicants than places in 2020. I would therefore strongly encourage and siblings of current students to enrol as early as possible.

Winter sport started last week with success in our 1st XI defeating St Bedes 8-0, our 1st V defeating St Andrews 71-66 and our 1st XV having played two games beating Waimea Combined and narrowly losing to Christs College in a tight battle. What has been great to see at all fixtures is the way our students support each other, whether they win, lose or draw. It is a sense of belonging and brotherhood that research tells us drives success for boys in the education sector and this is often created in activities out of the classroom.

All of our senior students have been in the process of being informed of their predicted grades which our staff have made decision on based on the performance of our students in Term 1. This initiative proved very successful in 2018. I would strongly encourage you to have a good conversation around these grades with your sons and, if needed, further conversation with our staff. At assembly I spoke to our students about the importance of knowing where they are now and what steps they need to put in place to ensure they are better off at the end of the year.

It has been fantastic to see our students embrace our Pink Shirt Day in supporting anti-bullying week. Unfortunately, examples of bullying occur in many areas of society It is great to see as a community we are always aware of “calling out” bullying behaviour and constantly working towards changing behaviour and culture.

Yesterday, we held a competitive cross country with high levels of participation. It is great to see our students supporting each other in the many house activities that we run throughout the year. A full run down of winners and place getters will follow.