We are in the Season of Easter – fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.
Tēnā koutou kātoa ngā whānau o te kura
What an incredibly action-packed term this has been! This newsletter provides you with so many highlights from the second half of this term. Before you dive into the fantastic range of features captured here, I have included some reflections and important information for you to consider.
We are in the ‘Season of Easter’
While Easter Sunday marks the end of the Holy Week celebration and the end of repentance and conversion for which Lent prepared the community, it is much more a beginning. It is the beginning of a new season of grace and a time of joy and thanksgiving, for Easter is not one day or one solemnity—it is a fifty-day celebration; the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.
Pentecost always occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus and ten days after his ascension into heaven. Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered together in the Upper Room. A “strong, driving” wind filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, allowing them to speak in different languages so that they could understand each other. The Holy Spirit also gave the apostles the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfil the great commission – to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. In this season of Easter, let us continue to reflect on Jesus’ great sacrifice for us, his glorious resurrection, and how we feel the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.
Casting back to Holy Week, it was uplifting to see 45 senior students participate in our annual Cross-Walk on Holy Thursday. The Cross-Walk started St Thomas More Church, journeyed over to Tauranga by foot, through town, down to St Mary’s Catholic School before heading back to the College. The students marked the Stations of the Cross along their pilgrimage, offering an opportunity to pray and meditate on Christ’s sacrifice for us. I acknowledge all of these students for their courageous witness of faith. This then led into our full school student-led Easter liturgy. The liturgy also reflected on the Stations of the Cross before our students had the opportunity to venerate the Cross at the end. The Liturgy was a special celebration of the cultures of the College, with each of the 14 Stations of the Cross read in a different language. I offer our student leaders the strongest commendation for their enthusiastic organisation, spearheaded by our Deputy Head Boy with the Special Character portfolio, Isaac Jaden.
We currently have 12 students undertaking their Sacraments of Initiation with Mr Hesqua. I ask that you keep these students in your thoughts and prayers as they continue their preparation. May the Holy Spirit hold them close and keep them fixed on Christ in this time of preparation. They will receive the Blessed Sacraments at our Mass of the Spirit, following Pentecost Sunday, to be celebrated by Bishop Steve at the College on May 26th at 10:00am.
Unfortunately, we were unable to land on a date that was compatible between the College and St. Mary Immaculate Church for our Term 1 Parish-College Mass following its postponement due to Covid-19. We have, however, scheduled our first Parish-College Mass early in Term 2 at St Mary Immaculate Church on May 16th at 10:30am. I ask that all of our students (in school uniform), along with their families, attend this Mass.
ANZAC Day Reflection
April 25th, Anzac Day, is a national day of remembrance in New Zealand and Australia that broadly commemorates all New Zealand’s and Australia’s servicemen and women who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Day originally honoured the New Zealand and Australian Army Corps members who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World War.
The New Zealand and Australian forces landed at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915, where they met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold military manoeuvre quickly became a stalemate, a campaign that would drag on for eight months. By the end of 1915, the allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. 2779 New Zealand soldiers died in the campaign. Gallipoli had a profound impact on New Zealanders at home, and April 25th soon became the day on which we remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war. New Zealand and Australian forces’ actions left a powerful legacy. This legacy became known as the “Anzac legend”, which is an important part of both nations’ identity today, shaping how they viewed both their past and their future.
Today Anzac Day conjures up different thoughts, memories and questions for each of us. What would it have been like for our servicemen and women? What would life be like if countries like New Zealand didn’t make a stand of this nature? How were they able to face the challenges of war? For me, it awakens the realisation of how lucky we are to enjoy the freedoms our brave servicemen and women earned for us.
As we reflect on the occasion of ANZAC Day, it should remind us of the many excellent qualities and characteristics that all our servicemen and women have displayed in the multitude of conflicts New Zealand has found itself embroiled in over the years. Characteristics such as courage, integrity, companionship and honesty, to mention a few. Each of these characteristics should act as a motivator, a reflection point, a challenge and a reminder of all that is good in our lives and all we should be thankful for. Most importantly, we should take time out each Anzac Day to reflect on the sacrifices these men and women made to ensure our freedom, secure our way of life, and demonstrate what it means to sacrifice for others. Things for which we should be eternally grateful. Our College will be represented by staff and members of the Student Executive at the Civic ANZAC Day service at the Cenotaph in Memorial Park from 9:00am. If other students wish to join in the procession and service, you are warmly encouraged to attend in school (winter) uniform and assemble with us from 8:30am.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
With the uncertainty that Covid-19 brought to many aspects of delivering education and extra-curricular opportunities, we had to re-think how we could provide outstanding performing arts experiences for our students and community. After years of Musicals performed at Baycourt Theatre, we are excited to be in the midst of our inaugural Shakespeare Production held in our gymnasium. It’s Shakespeare with a distinctive ‘kiwi’ twist, celebrating Aotearoa’s music and culture in a unique way!
I attended the opening night on Wednesday and was blown away by our talented young people’s outstanding performances. It is a celebration of talent across the College with the cast and crew, including students from Years 7-13. I acknowledge them, our Director Natalie Wright, Musical Director Elise Rohde, Production Managers Fraser and Katie Graham and Marketing Manager Donna Jarden, for their combined efforts to make this dream a reality (pun intended!). I am also very grateful to the other staff members who have volunteered their services to support the production this week and earlier. Thank you to all of our community who have supported the show through sponsorship and attendance.
New Zealand’s Vaping Problem
At Tuesday’s assembly, I revisited the topic of vaping with our students. Like all other schools in the country, we are working to stamp out vaping from our College. Vaping is a current blight on New Zealand society and a challenge for all schools. The lack of regulation in this country has been a travesty and has made them too easily accessible to young people. While vaping has the potential to help smokers quit, it has the potential to lead to harmful outcomes for non-smokers. I am personally really concerned about the potential long term effects of these vapes on young people. I reflected with the students about a time when the long term effects of smoking were unknown, and they were ‘physician’ tested and approved. Our position on vaping is clear, and it remains unchanged. Vaping is not permitted. Should a student be caught vaping or in possession of a vape, the following will happen:
If there is another offence, the following will apply:
Summer Tournament Week marked the end of the summer sports season for most codes. As you will read in the newsletter, we had some excellent successes, punctuated by the achievements of
I encourage you to read about all of our summer sporting successes in this newsletter. It is a timely opportunity to thank our staff, parents, and the wider community members involved with these codes. They have invested their time and efforts into our students so that they may participate in and enjoy such a wide variety of sporting activities. Without your passion and commitment, our students wouldn’t have the opportunities and successes they currently enjoy. Thank you very much!
Changes to NCEA
While our students are well aware, I wanted to take the opportunity to ensure our community is also familiar with NZQA’s changes to NCEA resubmission rules. This year, students will only be offered the chance to resubmit if their work is currently sitting at a Not Achieved grade but is close to an Achieved grade and would require a minor edit to fix. Students are no longer permitted to undertake a resubmission for an assessment that would enable them to reach the standard for Merit of Excellence. Students will need to take extra care with their notes and preparation to demonstrate their best work in their assessments.
Students are expected to be in the correct school winter uniform from the start of next term. The full winter uniform is available on the website.
A big thank you to our community for supporting our Term 1 Parent-Teacher Conferences in such large numbers yesterday. It was also great to see so many students also attending to make it a valuable three-way conversation. We were pleased to receive bookings from 65% of our community. The meetings were best attended by parents of Years 7-11 students. We also acknowledge those families who were unable to make it but have contacted our staff to make alternative arrangements. These opportunities to connect in person are so valuable to promoting your child(ren) ‘s holistic achievement here at the College.
Thank you to everyone for a great start to our 2021 school year, and I wish you all a safe and relaxing holiday and another successful school term starting on Monday, May 3rd.
Ma te Atua tātou e manaaki – May God’s blessings be upon us all.
M R Dalton
The annual New Zealand Secondary Schools Summer Tournament Week went ahead this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. From Monday 22 – Friday 26 March thousands of students competed across New Zealand. Several Aquinas College teams took part over the week in the following events: North Island Mountain Bike Champs, Open Water Swim, Senior Girls North Island Water Polo Champs, Cricket Gillette Cup, Maadi Cup Rowing, 3×3 Basketball – Senior Boys/Senior Girls/ Junior Girls, Senior Girls Volleyball Nationals. All who participated enjoyed the camaraderie and competitiveness of the inter-school challenges!