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

Welcome back to another action packed year! We have a very full week welcoming our new and more experienced students back into the school year. We had a wonderful Powhiri on Wednesday to welcome our students new to St Thomas’. I always feel honoured to take part in this most important welcoming ceremony.

We enjoyed a fantastic opening mass celebrating the start of year and badging of our student leaders as a faith community. Father Michael Therese Scheerger celebrated mass with us as the new parish priest at OLV in a wonderful homily. He connected with our students in sharing the faith dimension of the life of Kobe Bryant, I am sure all of our students took plenty from his words. We look forward to a strong relationship with Fr Michael.

We have had an opportunity to assess our academic performance from 2019 with the release of initial NCEA data. Once this is confirmed I will report in fuller detail. We are extremely proud with our results as whole, but especially our NCEA Level 2 results whereby 93% of our students achieved. To give you some comparisons the national average for boys Level 2 achievement is 76% – to see our students achieve at this high level demonstrates the hard work and dedication of our young men and staff. I spoke to our Year 13 this afternoon to congratulate them and offer that, with these wonderful results, comes high expectations of Level 3 and UE results this year. I know our students and staff are eager to work even harder this year to achieve even greater results in 2020.

Our students and staff have had a number of guest speakers to help set them up for a positive year. On Monday our staff spent two days with Andrew Lines, the creator of the Rite Journey, which is now implemented in over 200 schools throughout New Zealand and Australia. The Rite Journey is a deliberate holistic focus on developing character in our young men and inviting them to take the responsibility for the decisions they make. As parents and educators we have to, at times, allow our young men the space to make decisions for themselves and to own the numerous responsibilities that they are capable of. Growing good men is about support and relationship, not protection disempowerment.

Our students, staff and parents had an entertaining and informative evening listening to John Parsons, who is well known by many in the fields of cyber safety, professional boundaries and child protection. John’s key message around virtual platforms and technology was around strengthening values in our young men so they make the right decisions. He also had a number of useful tips for parents such as building strong relationships with your young people and understanding the games and social media platforms our young people are using. He spoke at length to our young men about the importance of the type of digital identity they are portraying via pages they like and messages they may send. I would strongly recommend you to have a look at his Facebook page, John Parsons: S2E.

Having access to these well researched and informed experts enables our community to continue to strive for a holistic well-rounded education here at Hato Tamati. We hold very high expectations for our students in all fields, we want them to grow and develop into good men. Above all else we hope our students are able to leave St Thomas’ at the end of their education with our Edmund Rice Charism firmly entrenched in their hearts. We need a world of compassion, kindness and love. I know our staff are excited to once again take up the challenge alongside you, the whanau, in relationship to try our best to help guide, grow and mentor our young men towards a better future.