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

This week we celebrated Te Wiki o te Reo Maori. The theme this year has been Kia Kaha te Reo Maori, meaning “Let’s make the Maori language strong.”

It has been fantastic to see our staff and students participate in this week’s celebration and acknowledgment of our indigenous language.

This week we also celebrated Tongan Language week. The theme for 2018 has been “Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa ‘Aki ‘A E ‘Ofa fonua” which means “Enrich Aotearoa with the love of duty and service to country, community and people”. This theme was certainly evident at the family celebration night on Tuesday with a great turn out of parents and a fantastic feast. It was a great opportunity to connect and value our Tongan community.

We also celebrated Social Justice Week with a focus on filling the school with actions of advocacy and charity (fundraising for Christchurch City Mission) to unpack & celebrate our Edmund Rice network touchstone of “inclusive community”. We started the week at assembly with Rt Hon Megan Woods addressing our boys around the importance of Social Justice. The week has continued with multiple activities raising resources and awareness around the many injustices that operate within our society. I would like to congratulate Mr Stephen Kennedy for his leadership throughout the week.

I announced to our staff last week that I received a resignation from Mr Paul Donnelly. Paul has won the appointment of Associate Principal at Rangiora High School. It is with great sadness that we farewell Paul, he is an extremely well liked, hardworking and talented staff member. Paul has worked at St Thomas’ since 2010 and during that time he has left an endearing legacy. We will celebrate Paul’s departure at the end of the year, and wish him well in his future employment at Rangiora High School.

Last weekend we hosted the Edmund Rice Gathering, which was themed around “Hauora” and wellbeing, an outstanding group of speakers including Dr Lucy Hone presented around the concept of wellbeing. This is a growing field and has been a focus for both staff and students here at St Thomas’. I would like to acknowledge the work of our staff members involved in the organisation, Mr Marty Taylor, Mrs Bernie Lee, Mr Stephen Kennedy, and Mrs Cathy Harrison on a very successful conference.

On Monday I attended the PFA meeting. I wanted to acknowledge the fantastic work our PFA do in raising funds for our school. The fundraising dollar is a competitive market and without the work of our hard working PFA, our students would miss out. I would like to thank Sarndra Preston for her leadership of our PFA.

This week we welcomed back all of our athletes who participated in winter tournament week. The full report of all teams are included throughout this newsletter. I would like to acknowledge the work of our 12 staff and 10 parents that spent time away from their own families in giving our young people an opportunity to travel around the country and compete at the highest levels. I would like to acknowledge, in particular, our Junior Basketball team who finished in 1st place at the South Island Champs and our U14 Rugby team who won the South Island Quad tournament they were involved in.

Amongst all of these activities, our staff and students have also continued their charge towards their academic achievement. Only two weeks remain this term and the focus is certainly final assessments and upcoming external exams.

I am truly grateful to work in a school with a group of staff who are prepared to give so much of their time, all aimed at a holistic education for our young men. In society, the education profession is not always valued. The work I see our staff do on a daily basis, all for the good of students, is phenomenal. The challenges are complex when we are in the business of working with young human beings. It is developing these young men where the victories come –  it isn’t always instant or visible, but, in my experience, the work we do is powerful and extremely valuable.