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

This week has been a week of celebration as we acknowledge Samoan Language Week. We have shared Umu and been honoured with a Kava ceremony. This week has highlighted to me the key values of our Pasifika community which are gratitude, humility and service. This years theme for Vaiasoo le Gagana Samoa – Samoa Language week 2021 is Poupou le lotoifale. Ola manuia le anofale which means ‘strengthen the posts of your house, for all to thrive’. When you’re building a foundation for a fale (house) it can’t have a weak foundation or posts. This is the same for the foundations of our families, schools and churches that play an important role in strengthening Gagana Samoa (the Samoan Language). Language is important for the foundations of our overall wellbeing.

I would like to acknowledge Mr Johnny Leo’o, Mr Leuma Gali and students, Matthew Pelenato, Joseph Ripley and Jarrod Gali for their wonderful leadership and our Pasifika community, led by Naomi Faga, for helping our St Thomas community experience Samoan culture.

I would like to thank our parent community for your patience and support in our response to the floods and wet weather earlier in the week. When we make decisions about opening or closing, a number of factors have to be taken into consideration. Firstly the safety of our site, secondly the ability of students to travel to and from school, and thirdly the ability of staff to travel and therefore to be able to staff our school for classes. On Monday, our site was safe to enter, our larger consideration was the staff getting to school particularly those north of the Waimak and those further south. In the instance of Monday, we were able to staff those that needed to be at school early, while the later start enabled staff to navigate dangerous driving conditions in daylight hours.

As mentioned in our previous newsletter, enrolments for 2022 will be stretched with far more applicants than places. If you know of friends or family who are considering attending St Thomas I would advise to get enrolments in as early as possible.

I spoke to our students at assembly today about their responsibilities as St Thomas’ young men. I explained we aren’t just St Thomas’ men 8.30am to 2.30pm, but the values we live our lives by exist when we are travelling to and from school, as well as when we are engaged in our wider community. The opportunities we gain through belonging to this community come with responsibilities. The responsibility lies in all of our community owning our culture, no one person is valued more than any other person and that lies true in our ability to grow and uphold our culture and values. As our younger students are growing and developing, it is the responsibility of our teachers, parents and older students to role model our values as well as calling out inappropriate behaviours. From time to time I receive emails from members of the public about behaviours that aren’t in line with our values. I am always thankful that members of the public understand how important our values and culture are to us, that they let me know when our younger students have lost their way. It is then our responsibility to lead our boys to an understanding of what it means to belong to St Thomas’.