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

20 May 2022

I trust we are all keeping warm, as we come to the end of another busy fortnight, it has been wonderful to observe our students engaged in daily school life, both in and outside the classroom.

We started the week with an assembly focused on anti-bullying week. This was highlighted on Thursday with Pink Shirt Day. The key message was on inclusivity, diversity and acceptance. I spoke at length on the place of our students displaying courage in situations where our students are witness to negative behaviours whether these are physical, emotional, online or verbal. It is so often easy to remain quiet and not speak up. This isn’t just isolated to young people, as this is a well reported challenge in many workplaces with adults. We are fortunate to have young minds to work with, whilst we are constantly working towards a culture of zero tolerance towards bullying, we are also a dynamic community of 700 teenagers with many different degrees of brain development and life experiences. It is our role to teach and role model to our young people how to respond and how to repair harm that may occur. It is our hope that this will help our young men in the many relationships they will encounter in their lifetime.

I was extremely proud of the work our young people have displayed in fundraising and advocating towards the large impact of cancer. As a school community we have been impacted many times by cancer and it has touched the lives of so many of our families here at St Thomas, I commend all those involved – well done.

We are well into the swing of winter sports here at St Thomas. It is wonderful to watch our boys on the fields and courts each week enjoying themselves. I would like to thank the staff and parents who administer, coach and manage the hundreds of young men who put our school colours on each week and play with manawa.

It is also an important reminder as to why we value sport and extra-curricular activity here at St Thomas. I have spoken at length to our students that sport, for me, isn’t about winning and losing, it isn’t about titles and championships, it isn’t about ‘A’ Teams and representative honours, all of those things are merely by-products. The real why is in the thousands of lived experiences our students are able to experience while playing sport – they experience adversity, success, how to work with others in a team, how to work with adults, how to work hard, how to take feedback, how to be humble and how to deal with disappointment. As parents, we have a massive role in riding this roller coaster with our young men. While it is challenging and difficult at times, I can’t think of another time in their lives where I would want them to experience these feelings and emotions. While they are at school they have large support networks at home, and at school they are surrounded by a large network of people who care for them. This, I believe, prepares them well for life after school in an environment where they may not have the same level of support. It is important we don’t lose sight of our why.

On Wednesday, we held a very successful open day. We were overwhelmed with the very large turn out of prospective students. As is often the case, our young men were the stars of the show. I had so many comments from parents at how amazing our young men are – as parents you should be very proud of your sons, I know I am.