Kia ora whanau,
A very warm welcome to our new students and families who, like myself, are starting at Aquinas College this year. I hope your introduction to the College has been as welcome and as friendly as mine has been. I thank the Board of Trustees, staff, students and wider community for the support that has been extended to me in what has been a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to Aquinas College. I look forward to working with you all to achieve the best possible outcomes for all of our learners.
I hope you enjoy reading our second college newsletter for 2018. We will be publishing two newsletters per term this year. One will be midway through the term and a second at the end of each term. There will also be a new initiative this year; a student newspaper. Watch this space!
In an earlier email I sent out to all families, I took the opportunity to share my educational philosophy, ‘non-negotiables’ and expectations for learners. As I am conscious that not everyone will have read my email, I would like to include these again here. These values and beliefs shape my leadership and decision making, therefore, I want them well known.
My educational philosophy is student-centred. It focuses on individual needs, contemporary relevance, and preparing students for a changing future. I strongly believe that every student deserves to be supported by an environment where they not only have the opportunity to achieve, but indeed succeed at the highest level. At the same time, every student needs to be held to account for their individual pursuits towards success. I believe in the holistic development of students, grounded in Gospel values. I strongly believe that a school needs to be an adaptive institution that works with its learners to improve outcomes for everyone while cherishing each learner’s culture and individuality.
Students today master content while creating, synthesising, and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources. I believe that students must develop strong critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills in order to be successful in an increasingly fluid, interconnected, and complex world. I see the partnership between home and school in preparing students to be successful in the 21st Century as critical.
I have four simple rules or expectations for our entire College community; students, staff and wider community, and this starts with me. They are:
1. Be kind
2. Be respectful
3. Be authentic
4. Be honest
I believe very strongly in these four simple things. I hope you can draw parallels between my non-negotiables and the values, ethos and Special Character of this College. I believe these four things are what it means to be good, fair people. Schools serve many functions, but chief among these, in my opinion, is in preparing students to be successful, contributing members of society. By developing good people, we position ourselves well to achieve that goal.
My expectations for learners
In addition to my four non-negotiables, I have four expectations for all learners in how I expect them to approach their work:
1. Be innovative. Take risks.
2. Nurture relationships.
3. Be resilient.
4. Strive for and celebrate excellence.
It is important that we recognise that we are all learners in our college community. In a recent assembly, I explained to our students that I expect to see innovation, positive relationships, resiliency and the pursuit of excellence in addition to the four non-negotiables when I visit their classes. It is also my expectation that as staff and whanau we also model these expectations in our pursuits, especially those that relate to the College community.
In celebrating the start to the new year I would like to welcome our new staff and acknowledge changes within our Board of Trustees.
New Staff (in alphabetical order):
Mr. Steven Binns – Steven joins our Mathematics faculty. Mr. Binns is a first-year teacher. He spent time at the College last year on a teaching practicum. He completed his teaching qualification at the University of Waikato. Prior to entering teaching Mr. Binns worked at a number of Universities. He holds a PhD in Mathematics, an MA (Mathematics) and a BA (Mathematics.)
Ms. Jacq Burrell – We welcome Ms. Jacq Burrell back to the College in our Science Faculty. She has a long association with Aquinas College being a foundation member of staff and having several other periods of employment with the College.
Mrs. Adrienne Danby – Mrs. Danby joins us as a Teacher Aide. She is very experienced and qualified and will be an asset to our support staff team.
Mrs. Rebecca Holmes – Mrs. Holmes joins our English Faculty on a one term, fixed term contract. She is a graduate of the University of Waikato. Mrs. Holmes joins us after holding previous teaching positions at Otumoetai College and most recently the Northern Health School.
Mr. Craig McFarlane – Mr. McFarlane is a graduate from Victoria University and also joins our Mathematics Faculty, on a part time basis. Mr MacFarlane has worked in a number of New Zealand secondary schools, from Christchurch to Kaitaia, holding teaching and management positions along the way.
Mr. Mat Synge – Mr. Synge joins our Science Faculty and is a graduate of Victoria University. Mr. Synge joins us from John Paul College and brings a very unique set of skills as it relates to bee-keeping. We are exploring ways for Mr. Synge to share these talents with our students.
Board of Trustees 2018
The school this year is pleased to once again have a stable and capable Board made up of the following trustees:
Scott Kahle (Chair)
James Houghton (Deputy Chair)
Colleen Lowe (Elected Parent Representative)
John Mackay (Elected Parent Representative)
Chris Phayer (Elected Parent Representative)
Margie Cooper (Proprietor’s Representative)
Therese Ford-Cartwright (Proprietor’s Representative)
Clare Sokimi (Proprietor’s Representative)
Matt Dalton (Principal)
Peter Nicholson (Staff Representative)
Ben Sokimi (Student Representative)
Moira Ramsbottom (Board Secretary)
In acknowledging the Board, it is appropriate that I formally acknowledge and welcome Clare Sokimi as a new member of the Board. Clare’s Trustee experience began on the Board at St Peter Chanel School in Hamilton where she was a Board member for 12 months. When her family moved to Tauranga, Clare served on the St Mary’s School Board for 6 years before taking up the challenge with St Mary Immaculate Parish and then St Thomas Aquinas Parish where she served as a Parish Counsellor for three years, with the last two as the Board Chair. Clare and husband Tony, have two children currently attending Aquinas College, Ben (Yr. 12) and Poppy (Yr. 10). Their eldest daughter, Bailey, graduated from Aquinas College in 2014. I know that Clare’s wealth of experience will be an asset to the governance team.
I must also acknowledge and pay tribute to Margie Cooper, who has signaled her resignation from the Board of Trustees when a suitable replacement can be found. Margie has been a member of the Aquinas College Board of Trustees as a Proprietor’s Representative since 2011. At that time, her two sons James and Luke were students at Aquinas College. In the 6½ years Margie has been a member of the Culture & Ethos Committee contributing and leading change in policies. Margie has represented Bishop Steve well in Board meetings, ensuring the College’s Special Character was foremost in thoughts during decision-making. We thank Margie for her years of service and congratulate her on a place on the Diocesan Schools Council.
Student Achievement 2017
As is detailed in this newsletter by our Director of Curriculum, Mr. Graham, the results that our students achieved in National Standards, REACH, NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship in 2017 were simply outstanding! Your role as parents in our College community is essential in providing the support to our teachers and obviously, our students in achieving these wonderful outcomes.
I encourage you to peruse the report provided by Mr. Graham. These results underscore the culture of academic excellence Aquinas College has established and continues to maintain. We have had the opportunity to now compare our results to the other local schools and while these results are still provisional, they highlight the fact that our students are outperforming all other schools in NCEA relative to pass rates and proportion of endorsements.
We recently celebrated 66 students in our Academic Honours Assembly. The criteria to achieve Academic Honours is demanding, so to celebrate this number of students was wonderful. We were able to make special mention of Lilli Scott and Daisy Vahey-Bourne who not only met this criteria, but also had the special distinction of attaining New Zealand Scholarship passes, placing them in the top 3% of all students in the country. A simply outstanding achievement.
Special Character Events
Education Outside the Classroom and College Events
I have included dates of key events that will take place over the second half of this term directly below:
March 9 Catch-up photos for individual and siblings
March 12 Attitude Health Visits for each year level
March 13 Yr. 7 and 8 Swimming Sports at Greerton Pools
March 14-17 Polyfest, Auckland
March 14 Yr. 12 Student Support Training
March 19 Interim Reports for all students
March 19-23 Summer Sports Tournament Week
March 19-29 Caritas Challenges
March 24 Waikato BOP Athletics
March 28 Cross Walk from St Thomas More Church to Aquinas College
March 28 Easter Liturgy
March 29 Yr. 9-13 Swimming Sports at Baywave
March 30 Good Friday
March 31/32 Easter Holidays
April 6-8 NISS Athletics Champs, Whanganui
April 6 BOPSS Swimming Champs
April 10 Meet the Teacher interviews
April 10 BOP Yr. 7 and 8 Zone Swimming Champs
April 13 End of Term 1.
As you can see it has been a busy term for the College and I extend best wishes to all students and staff and the wider college community for not only a successful Term 1, but a highly successful 2018. Targets have been set, goals defined, and now we must all work hard, and work together to realise the same. Best wishes for a successful 2018.
Mr. Matt Dalton
Staff, Trustees, students and families enjoyed a wonderful celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday the 4th of March. This served as an opportunity for the Aquinas College community to join with the St Thomas Aquinas Parish to give praise to God and to remind us all of the essential link between us. Our Student Executive, staff and Board of Trustees were blessed at this Mass and commissioned for their work in the year ahead. Thanks to all everyone who attended this joyous celebration of our faith.
Several of our senior students attended a Justice Leadership Day in Cambridge to prepare for raising awareness and fund-raising for Caritas. Caritas is the charitable organisation supported by the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand. Young Vinnies at Aquinas College joined with groups from St Thomas More and St Mary’s primary schools to run a bake sale at the Twilight Festival. This is a great demonstration of the Touchstone of Service among our students.
Ash Wednesday starts our 40 day journey. A journey that opens an opportunity for us to grow closer to God and stronger in our faith. We can do this in many different ways but during this time of Lent three powerful ways to grow is though fasting, prayer and alms giving. Fasting doesn’t need to be something big that everyone needs to know about. It’s meant to be something personal that you can reflect upon with yourself and Jesus. Whether it be not eating lollies during the week, cutting down on how much time you spend watching Netflix or even not playing video games. Just something personal that you can challenge yourself with.
Earlier this term, our Yr. 9 students enjoyed a retreat day out at St Joseph’s, Te Puna. The theme for the day was “Who am I? – The Lies and the Truth”.
The students discussed how society values body image and material possessions. In contrast, the way that God values us was discussed. The students learnt that each of us is a beloved child of God, of infinite worth. Students got a lot out of the day, agreeing the importance of being who you truly are, rather than what society wants you to be.
Charlize enjoyed the team building games with her friends. India liked the story about how important it is to be yourself. Corban was reminded that God loves every one of us equally. The day concluded with the celebration of Mass.
Yr. 10P Social Studies class is running a series of social action events to raise funds for the Caritas Lenten Appeal. The 2018 Appeal is in support of the people of Timor Leste (East Timor) who face many challenges due to a history of conflict. The focus is on aiding poor rural communities and in particular on empowering women to develop small business skills which will enable them to better provide for their families.
A series of fundraising and awareness events will be run between the 19th and 29th of March including a bake sale, sausage sizzle, coin trail, quiz, car wash and mufti day.
A review of the NCEA results for 2017 indicates that the senior students at Aquinas College have performed exceptionally well and have had outstanding success in their studies. The percentages of students that gained NCEA certificates and endorsements for Aquinas College are given in the table below:
|Summary of NCEA Level 3||Summary of NCEA Level 2||Summary of NCEA Level 1|
|% Gaining NCEA L3||89%||% Gaining NCEA L2||98%||% Gaining NCEA L1||98%|
|% Excellence Endorsement||25%||% Excellence Endorsement||37%||% Excellence Endorsement||45%|
|% Merit Endorsement||42%||% Merit Endorsement||34%||% Merit Endorsement||39%|
|% Endorsements||67%||% Endorsements||71%||% Endorsements||84%|
|Students gaining UE||79%|
Aquinas College was proud to welcome 120 new Yr. 7 students from local schools as well as from Auckland, the USA and the wider Bay of Plenty region. These students have settled in well, aided by their participation in the Peer Support programme over the past 5 weeks. This initiative is designed to ensure a smooth transition by pairing up each new student with a buddy from Yr. 11 who shows them around the school, introduces them to friends and takes part in fun activities.
The main event for our Yr 8 students was the camp at Ngatuhoa Lodge, at McLaren’s Falls. Despite a little rain it turned out to be a great 3 days in the Kaimais where students took part in team building activities, bush walking, kayaking, archery and orienteering.
Students have been enjoying Tuesday and Thursday lunchtime activities such as coding club, crafts and sports. The chance to wear their PE uniform certainly seems to encourage students to be active at lunchtime.
This year Aquinas College welcomed new students from Korea, China and Japan bringing the total number of international students to 16. Our new students were treated to an orientation tour sponsored by Education Tours. The tour included sights in and around Tauranga including Kaiate Falls, Maketu and Mount Maunganui.
The students are enjoying the variety of subjects offered as part of the curriculum, such as Food Technology and Drama. Many of our students attended their first ever athletics day this term, and had loads of fun dressing up in their house colours and participating in the numerous events.
International students add a wonderful cultural dimension to our college. The students are paired with a ‘Kiwi buddy’ to help them settle into their new life at Aquinas College. Thank you also to all the home-stay families for making these students feel so welcome.
The achievement of Academic Honours was celebrated earlier this term by the whole school community. After a reading from Galatians (Ch 6, Vs 2 – 6) by Deputy Head Boy Leon Castle, students were reminded that they will reap what they sow. Mr Graham shared three steps to take to ensure a rich harvest by the end of the year:
(1) Be honest with self – Don’t be something that you are not, rather set your own goals based on your own skills and talents.
(2) Reflect on actions – Consider why you have set these goals, being mindful of God’s plan for your life.
(3) Get active – Sow what you have planted by remaining committed to the goals. Get rid of anything that is standing in the way of your success.
School sport is under way with Aquinas College teams entered in the local Cricket, Volleyball, Futsal and Water Polo competitions. Gymsports trainings have also started at school.
Swimming Championships for Yr. 7 and 8 will be held at the Greerton Aquatic Centre on Tuesday 13 March. Year 9 – 13 will compete at the Baywave Aquatic Centre on Thursday 29th of March. We expect all students to be involved in these events.
Congratulations to Antony (Yr. 9) and Kieran Death (Yr. 7 – pictured) on selection for the New Zealand Youth Climbing Team that will compete at the Australian Youth Climbing Championships being held in Sydney in May 2018. Antony will represent NZ at U14 Level (Youth C) and Kieran at U12 Level (Youth D). Both boys will compete in Lead, Bouldering and Speed events.
A brilliantly fine sunny day greeted us for the annual Athletics Day held on Friday 23rd February. Due to the Tauranga Domain track being refurbished, we held the event at the College. There was lots of colour, inter-house rivalry, banter, chanting and in between times, plenty of intense competition among some seriously good athletes.
There will be hockey clinics running in Term One. The focus will be on skills and fitness as players prepare for the upcoming season. We would like to encourage all players to attend the sessions. Initially there are two sessions planned. If there is sufficient interest, then more sessions will be added.
Sunday 11th March Aquinas College turf 9.30 – 11.00 am
Sunday 18th March Aquinas College turf 9.30 – 11.00 am
Yr. 12 student Jack Egan competed in the Australian Open Kayak Event earlier this month. Jack trained well however received a penalty in the competition which unfortunately knocked him out of medal contention. Jack is preparing for three sets of competitions coming up this year. First up is the New Zealand Secondary Schools Nationals for Canoe Slalom, in Hawea. This event is followed by the New Zealand Nationals in Tekapo over Easter weekend. In June, Jack has been selected first to compete in the Under 18’s C1 team at the World Under 18 Slalom Competition in Ivrea, Italy. This is an awesome achievement for a paddler of his age – Congratulations Jack.
On the 23rd of January, 14 students and four adults departed Aquinas College for the inaugural 1st XI Cricket trip to Melbourne. The 7-day trip was the conclusion of around 12 months of planning and fundraising.
The tour involved four games of cricket against St Kevin’s College, Camberwell Grammar, Melbourne Grammar and Mentone Grammar school. Unfortunately, the third game against Melbourne Grammar was cancelled due to excessive heat.
Sam Taane (Yr. 10), Tom McCarroll (Yr. 10), Sophie Rogers (Yr. 8) and Kate McCarroll (Yr. 9) were selected to represent the Western Bay of Plenty in tennis in the annual Junior Intra Regional Tournament this year.
Sam and Tom played in the U14 age group in Hamilton on the 24th and 25th February, with their team placing second. Kate and Sophie played in the U12 age group in Hawke’s Bay on 3rd and 4th March, with their team also placing second.
Congratulations on these results.
Aquinas College students Aoife Taylor and Stella Janissen (both in Yr. 11) have had amazing result in rowing. In the Head of Harbour Regatta on Lake Pupuke on Saturday 10th of February, Aoife and Stella Janissen won a gold medal for their Girls U17 double sculls race. This is a great result given the girls are 14 and 15 years old. Last weekend the girls attended the North Island Secondary School’s Championships at Lake Karapiro. Stella got through to the final for the Girl’s U 16 Single Sculls, pulling off 7th place and a personal best time. The girls are looking forward to competing at the National Tournament in Twizel, later this term.
Well done rowers!
Aquinas College has two bands that play at school events and take part in local and regional music competitions. The Concert Band practices every Wednesday during lunchtime and the Jazz Band runs on Friday lunchtime. These students are working towards the Waikato Band Itinerant Competition which is held in August. If you play a musical instrument and are interested in joining either of these bands, please e-mail Mrs Cooney – email@example.com.
Mrs Fitzpatrick leads the String Ensemble which practices Wednesday lunchtimes. This group is working towards the Chamber Music Competition held at Bethlehem College Performing Arts Centre on the 13th of June. Our Voci Celesti choir took part in a workshop earlier this term in preparation for The’Big Sing’ Competition that is to be held in June.
The Aquinas College PTA would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our fantastic community for coming out & supporting this years’ Twilight Festival. Helping to create magic & raising over $12,000 for all the different school clubs & sporting codes.
The challenging weather conditions did not put a dent in the enthusiasm of all you wonderful people. A big thanks to our fabulous students & staff & volunteers who rallied to help, set up & then manned stalls, participated on the course and helped out.
A big thanks to Taylor Brothers Transport who sponsored the foam tent & slide on the course, bringing them all the way from New Plymouth. The foam created so much joy and was appreciated by both young and old. The Greerton Volunteer Fire Brigade added to the fun. We thank them for their time. Thanks to all our other sponsors who provided spot prizes & support in so many ways.
But once again thank you for coming along and really demonstrating what it means to be a community. It was a fantastic event. The PTA are proud to be part of such a great group of people.
God bless you today & every day.
It is with great pride that the Board of Trustees announce the sale of the Aquinas College Charity House. This important fundraising project, undertaken by the Aquinas College Foundation (“the Foundation”), has been completed raising a total of $202,159.80. These funds will be used to benefit the students and wider Aquinas College Community in the following ways:
Thank you to the developers of St Thomas Estate Limited, David and Kathy Goodwin for their generous gift of a $125,000 discount on Lot 4 St Thomas Estate and the willingness of Shane and Kirsty McConnell and the Team at GJ Gardner Tauranga to build a 204 square metre home at a discount of more than $40,000.
Thank you also to the huge number of supporters who helped in so many ways including watering the lawns, helping the landscapers, donating goods and services and offering discounted goods and services to this project.
From Mr. Dalton.
In 2017, a group of senior students led a process of community consultation regarding the Aquinas College uniform as part of a class project. This consultation sought feedback from students, staff and families. As a result of this consultation, several recommendations were made to modify the uniform and appearance guidelines. As new Principal, I am very impressed by this process of students influencing social change. We have considered this feedback carefully and I can advise that we have responded positively to the recommendations in redefining the uniform and appearance guidelines. I shared these new guidelines with students at assembly. In doing so, I urged them to work in partnership with us to ensure they have the utmost pride in our College. Wearing their uniform and meeting these guidelines consistently and correctly is a fundamental way of doing this. I will hold our students to the highest level of accountability relative to these new guidelines. I have included the amendments that have been made to the uniform and appearance guidelines below.
Aquinas College is a Catholic, co-educational, Year 7-13 secondary school. Our school roll has a maximum of 750 pupils plus up to-25 International Students.
Because we generally receive more applications than positions available, we have in place a balanced process to enable everyone the same opportunity for enrolment. This process is quite lengthy which means that 2019 enrolment applications open on Thursday 3rd May and close on Friday 6th July 2018. We do not operate a waiting list system but favour a system whereby everyone gets considered at the same time each year.
We have an Open Day each year where you are encouraged to bring your child along to see the school in action and listen to a presentation from the Principal and senior leaders. Open Day this year is Wednesday 30th May. Two sessions are offered; 9-10am or 12:30-1:30 pm.
Calling all budding mathematicians! Now is the time to enter the regional and national maths competitions and show off your talents. Aquinas College participates in three Mathematics competitions.
Students of 9MAX and 10MAX are automatically entered to all three competitions as part of their accelerated programme, however all interested students are encouraged to take part. To register click here. The details of the competitions are as follows:
Otago Maths Competition – Wednesday 4th April, starting 9 am – registration closes Monday 12th March. The cost is $6.00 per student.
Australian Maths Competition – Thursday 9th August – registration closes Monday 12th March. The cost is $7.00 per student.
ICAS Maths Competition – Tuesday 14th August – registration closes Monday 12th March. The cost is $9.50 per student
Fees will be charged to each student’s school account. Enquiries should be sent to Mrs. Paula Skelton Assistant HOF of Mathematics – firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the areas of Professional Development for staff this year is working with Waikato University in the area of Cultural Responsiveness. This has been identified as an area of focus by the The Ministry of Education. As part of this, we are surveying staff, students and our wider community to gain views on how the College is doing in this area . This survey is set up and collated by The University of Waikato and should not take long to complete. We appreciate you taking the time to do this by following this link.
SetFree is a Catholic Youth Conference on March 23 – 25, 2018. It offers youth and young adults with an opportunity to experience the burning desire that Christ has to see them fully alive through engaging speakers, quality music and a strong, community-based atmosphere. This is a live-in style festival, with pre-arranged accommodation at, and around the Papa Te Aroha Marae in Hamilton. You must bring your own sleeping mat, sleeping bag and pillow. All catering provided, including a light dinner on Friday evening. The theme for SetFree 2018 is ‘Be Not Afraid’, and our keynote speaker is Tim Glemkowski. The event is open to Yrs. 10-13. To book tickets please email email@example.com.
Any senior students interested in playing badminton are welcome to attend Tauranga Badminton Club. Games are on a Monday from 7.30 to 9.30 pm. Club rackets are available for free use. The fee is $8.00 per player per night, with student memberships available for the year. The season runs until December 3rd. For more information visit www.sporty.co.nz/taurangabadmintonclub
A reminder that there will be no classes during the Easter Break; the public holiday for Good Friday is on Friday 30th March. School commences again on Wednesday 4th of April. All students and their families are encouraged to take part in the Easter Liturgies in local parishes. For mass times please visit http://taurangamoanacatholic.nz/mass-timetable or http://allsaintsbythesea.nz/mass.
The Entertainment Book raises funds for the Fiji Service trip and sports equipment. These will be sent home on 26th of March however register early here to get over $170 of bonus Early Bird Offers. Thanks for your support of this important fundraiser. For more information please e-mail Mrs Boniface on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the following students who have graduated from the University of Waikato. We are very proud of you and congratulations on achieving your degrees.