It has been a fantastic week of celebration, farewells and graduations. Last Friday night we
celebrated the achievements of our sportsmen at our annual sports awards dinner. Last night our
Pasifika community gathered to honour the achievements and service of the departing Year 13’s and
finally our Senior Futsal team have been acknowledged at the prestigious Zonta awards for their
achievement in winning the Senior National Futsal title earlier in the year.
Alongside this event we
have a group of junior students preparing to attend the World Scholars Cup international finals at
Yale University, our entire Year 10 cohort raising money for Mental Health by holding a fun run today, and finally Year 8 Retreats have also been held this week.
All of these events have involved a large
input of work by both our staff and parent community. Amazing opportunities present themselves
for our students when we all work together for the benefit of our young men. It is my experience
when our young men are given these opportunities, they are able to chase their passions and express
their talents. Our students are so blessed to be part of a supportive community.
While we have had plenty to celebrate this week, the main focus for our senior students and staff has
been on preparation for senior NCEA exams which are the culmination of a full years work and
study. We have highlighted to our senior students that study leave has to be earned. For some of our
students our staff will be working with individual students that need extra support right up till the
end of year to achieve their academic goals. Mr Brendan Biggs will be facilitating this process.
I experienced a profound reminder of what our community is all about at the Pasifika achievement
night. One of our Old Boys was present and was Master of Ceremonies for the evening. At the end of
all awards the Year 13 students were farewelled with a stirring haka from the junior students. After
the haka, Josh Vaifale spoke with passion and wisdom and challenged our younger students to “stand
up” and take all opportunities that come their way. He described how important his time at St
Thomas’ had been in an often tearful and emotional final speech, Josh explained we are not a school
but a family. It is in this statement that I feel our community can be described.
On Tuesday night we
will celebrate the academic, sporting, cultural and drama achievements – we will also celebrate the Year
13 students who depart at the end of this year. As Josh so simply stated though, we are a family and
while we may not see our Year 13 students everyday next year, they don’t leave the family – they remain
a part of our community forever, they have left the school in a better place than they found it. It has
been a pleasure to watch our Year 13 students grow and develop to celebrate the success and to
support them in the challenging moments. The greatest perk of being a teacher is to see young men
come into our school as 11 year olds and to see the 18 year old version leave – to be directly part of
their lives for their time at St Thomas’ is a true honour.