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

We have had a good week at St Thomas’, it has been fantastic to observe the students back into a normal weekly routine. As we await our Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday about a potential shift to Alert Level 1, we will make further announcement about what impact this may have on school life. It would appear there will very little change. It has been fantastic to watch our students back onto the training fields preparing for the re-introduction of sport, which has so many positives outcomes for our young men. In the many classrooms I have visited this week I can report our boys are back into the routine of learning as part of class, in many cases working together with each other in a collaborative way.

NZQA have released changes to the way NCEA will be attained this year, an information sheet is attached to this newsletter. Mr Brendan Biggs is working his way around all of our senior students explaining the impact to our students. I can comment by saying the progress of our students during lockdown has meant the vast majority of our senior students are well on track to achieve their academic goals this year.

Much of the news this week has been around the global influence of COVID-19 and the #Black Lives Matter movement that has started as a result of the horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in the United States. Racism is a topic that invokes a lot opinion and emotion. As far as I am concerned, the more this is talked about, discussed and raised as a key issue surrounding equity for all, the greater chance we will have to ensure all cultures, religions and ethnicities are valued and treated fairly. We all have a responsibility to speak out whenever we witness or hear any examples of racism, if we are silent we are part of the problem.

Over the years I have witnessed, and heard many examples of racism. I have also seen the impact that this has on a person when their very being is attacked in such a way. It is the most hurtful, belittling, behaviour I have ever seen. No person ever has the right to take away another person’s dignity.

The more this issue is raised and we all take responsibility for speaking up the closer we will be to understanding that God our saviour is present in all of his children on earth, that we are all created in the image of Jesus Christ, and that each individual person on this planet has the right to have their dignity upheld and honoured.

I feel so blessed to work in a diverse, kind and caring environment where students and staff feel valued for representing their culture and language. It is an absolute treasure that we are able to walk alongside each other and listen to and appreciate the many similarities and differences that we base our St Thomas’ culture on. The boys themselves describe this best when they use the word “brotherhood”.

When I look back upon the 16 years I have been at St Thomas’, the greatest gifts I have been afforded have been from the many boys and their families who have shared their culture, traditions and language with me. To you, I thank you, continue to have the courage to speak out and represent who you are.