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

It is hard to believe we have come to the end of Week 6 of Term 4. It has been a very busy term with lots of farewells, celebrations, exams, initiations, rites of passage and new beginnings.

At the end of Week 4 we farewelled our senior students with an emotional prize-giving and mass that the school leavers of 2020 fully deserved. As a year group they have led their fellow students and been the ultimate guardians or kaitiaki of our much prized culture here at St Thomas.

We also held a wonderful celebration of culture at our annual Pasifika achievement night and graduation. For me, the biggest celebration is observing the strong relationships on show between our junior students and seniors. Watching our juniors farewell our leavers was a highly charged emotional event, well done to all involved.

Last Sunday I felt privileged and honoured to be part of a group of 20 students who were initiated into the Catholic Church through Baptism and their First Holy Communion. It was a fantastic connection between our parish church OLV and our school community. I would like to thank Bishop Paul Martin, Fr Michael Therese Scheerger, Fr Simon Eccleton and Fr Paul Shannahan for celebrating this wonderful and important initiation. I would also like to acknowledge Mr Stephen Kennedy and Mrs Bernie Lee for preparing our young men for their faith journey.

This week we welcomed the next generation of young St Thomas men as they start the process of leaving their primary education and becoming part of our St Thomas whanau. I would like to acknowledge our Year 12 students who led the day superbly and who demonstrated our important value of brotherhood. Well done, men.

We would like to wish our senior students the best of luck as they enter into their external exams. We have been very proud of the preparation they have put into their studies this year given the very trying circumstances.

We are in the process of creating a formal old boys community. We know how closely connected our old boy community remain amongst their many friendships formed during their time at school. We are hoping to provide a forum where the door is opened for our old boys to come and be part of our wider school community. We are in the process of forming a database, we are asking all old boys and friends of the college to send in their contact details so we can keep all informed of upcoming events including our 60th anniversary celebrations next year. The form is attached to this newsletter.

I am aware of the heavy toll this year has had on students, teachers and families. Walking around the school, we are noticing our students are very tired as the events from earlier in the year start to take a toll, and as we near the end of the year. As a teaching community we are working as hard as we can to support our students for the next two weeks. We often talk about an emotional saturation that we observe in our younger students as we near the end of year. When we see this in our students we can support our young men at school and at home by giving them space to centre and process their day, by supporting positive sleep patterns, listening more and talking less, understanding they don’t necessarily want the adults in their lives to solve their problems but most often need to vent and be listened too. If we work hard together, we will help our young men finish the year well.

I trust you are all looking after yourselves well, until next week take care.