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

We started the week with news of the tragedy in Timaru where five young men needlessly lost their lives. We keep all those families, schools, and communities so deeply affected by this tragic event in our thoughts and prayers. It does provide an opportunity to re-visit conversations with our young people about their choices, especially around vehicles and alcohol.

Last weekend as a community we celebrated our 60th anniversary in style! It was an absolute privilege to host 60 old boys on Friday for a Mihi Whakatau, school tours and cultural celebration assembly. The emotion in the haka from our students to our old boys demonstrated how proud our young men were to host our old boys. On Friday night we held a Tausala night which was well attended and a lot of fun expressing our Pasifika culture. Saturday started with a thrilling 1st XV fixture in front of a crowd in excess of 3000 spectators. We were very proud of our young 1st XV that narrowly lost to the table topping St Bedes team. The team were a true credit to their coaches, parents and our wider school community.

Saturday evening saw 260 members of our legacy come together and reminisce together all that forms our rich tapestry. Personally it was a wonderful reminder of the importance of our community and the way we come together and support each other. Meeting many old boys who I have worked with in my 17 year tenure, it was fantastic to see the men they have become and how proud they are of their school. For our current parents of teenagers, it is a reminder that the journey we are on raising our young men is a marathon, not a sprint, as long as we walk alongside our young people and not in front of them, to be there to support as well as challenge, and to role model our gospel values. If we don’t give up on our young men we will raise good fathers, good partners, good friends and good people. This was so evident on Saturday night.

On Sunday evening I participated in our sacramental mass which concluded our 60th anniversary celebrations. It was an uplifting experience as we welcomed 29 young men into the Catholic faith, and it was humbling to see the support from our community at OLV. Please keep these young men in your prayers as they venture on their faith journey.

Next week we welcome Mr Tony Shaw and Mr Mark Gregory into our school community to review the special character of St Thomas of Canterbury. Both men are very experienced leaders in Catholic education, we warmly welcome them into our community and look forward to receiving any feedback in our continual search for improvement.

Our jazz band participated in the Southern Jam music festival in Blenheim last week. Congratulations to all band members and to teachers, Mr Ben Crosson and Mr Brian Knopp, for your performances and also the way you represented our community.

On the sporting front, our 1st teams have competed particularly well. Our 1st XI football team have qualified for a semi-final next week, our 1st V basketball team also have a semi final next week, and our 1st XV participate in a plate semi final narrowly missing out on the Crusaders Region Top 4 but finishing 3rd within the Canterbury Region. To have all of our three major winter codes finish in the Top 4 of Christchurch school is outstanding, and a credit to all of our staff who spend long hours and lots of energy preparing our young men.

As a staff we are continuing to focus and drive our students towards their academic goals. I would encourage all in our community to continue conversations with your sons around academic achievement, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact your son’s subject teachers and mentors.

To finish this week’s newsletter I wanted to share two emails I received this week about wonderful examples we are trying to achieve at St Thomas’. Have a read;

Hi Steve and the Team,

I just needed to send you a quick email to compliment the school and one of the fine men from St Thomas. I was at a mini conference put on by Dyslexia Awareness New Zealand here in Christchurch just yesterday. At question-and-answer time there were several people in the audience who were vocal about the schools they were dealing with and the inadequate support they were receiving with regards to their children’s learning needs. I then heard a voice from the back who had been called upon for his turn to speak – I turned to see it was a boy in a St Thomas uniform (the only person of this age in the room). What he said was just awesome and made me so proud. He said in front of this room full of people that he was from St Thomas, that he was dyslexic and personally named the school principal, the leadership team and the learning support staff and sung their praises for the work they did and the supports and effort that they put into the boys. It was such a cool moment to see a young man stand up and be vocal about his experience and own it.

I just thought you all needed to know this and to commend yourselves on what you are doing at St Thomas. It is obviously something special. To have developed and supported someone with their own learning difficulties, to then be able to stand up and say what he did is truly amazing.

Well done team – it takes a community.

Thanks for all the efforts.

Hello Steve

We just want to say a big CONGRATULATIONS after attending the Sunday evening Mass at OLV – what a privilege to welcome 29 new young men into the Church, you and the school can be extremely proud of this achievement. It was an honour to be there and we will continue to pray for these young men and their families as they continue their journey of Catholic faith.