Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us love is a movement outwards that focuses our attention on others.
Tēnā koutou kātoa ngā whānau o te kura
Incredibly, we are more than halfway through the first term! It has been a positive start to the year with our students taking advantage of so many curricular and extra-curricular opportunities on offer to them. Our annual Athletics Day and Year 7/8 Swimming Sports saw our students competing strongly and demonstrating rousing College and House spirit. Our faith was nourished at the Diocesan Commissioning Mass held here in Tauranga. Unfortunately, our planned Parish College Mass was postponed due to the shift in alert levels, but we are working with the Parish to find an alternative date later this term. The College’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is progressing well, and we will look forward to the show’s season in Week 11. Next week’s Academic Honours Assembly will recognise outstanding NCEA achievement, which is a wonderful example of the Touchstone of Scholarship in the life of the College. I hope you enjoy this newsletter, highlighting so many of the events our students and staff have engaged in since the beginning of the year.
Our Journey to Easter
In our last newsletter, I gave reference to the season of Lent and how we can prepare for our saviour’s resurrection in the lead up to Easter. One common thing we Catholics do during Lent is fast. This year, my boys and I gave up sweet drinks – quite an undertaking for us! In doing this, I am trying to teach my sons about the concept of fasting, as Jesus did for 40 days and nights. The real challenge is taking this deeper for them to develop their faith and understanding in this time of Lent. This is a challenge we all face as parents. I recently read Pope Francis’ Lenten message for 2021, and in this, I believe he helps bring clarity to us as parents. Pope Francis wrote, “Fasting helps us to love God and our neighbour, inasmuch as love, as Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, is a movement outwards that focuses our attention on others and considers them as one with ourselves”. Further, he wrote, “In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference”. Let us all reflect on the words of Pope Francis and model this to our children. Let us all be committed to more than just fasting at this time.
The St Thomas Aquinas Middle School Award – Years 7-10 Students
2021 has seen the introduction of the St Thomas Aquinas Middle School Award for our students in Years 7-10. It has been a key strategic goal dating back for the College to develop a connected and coherent learning journey for our middle school learners. Following our College’s curriculum review in 2019, we conceptualised a holistic model of education, and from this, the St Thomas Aquinas Middle School Award (STAMSA) was conceived. Academic achievement is no longer the sole measure of success at the end of a school year. 75% of the award requirements come from our learning, while 25% comes from wider school and community life through our Graduate Profile Progressions. This model of holistic education reflects the whole person – all of their gifts and talents. Long have schools promoted holistic education, but they haven’t necessarily effectively reflected this through their curriculum and assessment frameworks. I am personally very excited about this new journey we are embarking on. We are redefining what success looks like for our students! At the end of my message, please click on the link to view the video we have created about STAMSA.
We will be facilitating four opportunities for parents and whānau to come in and explore this new framework with us as well as giving the opportunity to ask questions. If you are able, please join us in the College staffroom at one of the following four opportunities:
NCEA Achievement 2020
As detailed in this newsletter, our students’ results in NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship in 2020 were once again outstanding, especially when we consider the challenges that 2020 presented for our students! Your role as parents in our College community is essential in providing support to our teachers, and obviously, our students in achieving these incredible outcomes.
I strongly encourage you to read through these results, which are disaggregated by gender and ethnicity. While we will continue to take deliberate actions to reduce achievement disparities within gender and ethnicity cohorts, it is pleasing to see significant gains made in this regard once again. Ultimately, our College’s students continue to perform exceedingly well, especially compared to local and national groups. We are very proud of them!
Term 1 Parent-Teacher Conferences
We will be holding our Term 1 report afternoon on Thursday, 15th April. The report afternoon will run from 1:00pm-6:30pm. Bookings are essential and will be made through the School Interviews website. It is important to come in and connect with your child(ren) ’s teachers to develop strategies so we can work together to ensure your child(ren) reach their full potential. Further booking details will be provided with Term 1 interim reports, which will be emailed out at the end of Week 7. Please refer to Mr Bucktons’ overview of reporting in this newsletter for full information about our reporting structure this year.
Please note that classes will cease at 12:00pm on this day. Aquinas buses will run at the earlier time of 12:15pm. However, Bus 6 (Omokoroa/Katikati/Waihi) will only travel as far as Bethlehem College, and Bus 7 (Matamata) will travel as far as The Lakes. Bus 10 (Te Puke) is shared with Bethlehem College and, as such, will need to run as per the normal time, leaving Aquinas College at 3:45pm. The 808A bus will not run on that day and students will need to catch a public bus. Students who travel on Bus 1 will need to catch the bus on Pyes Pa Road, and there will be a cost of $1.60 per person. Parents can make alternative arrangements for students if they wish. If your child(ren) require supervision from 12:00pm – 3:15pm on this day, please indicate this by email to Moira Ramsbottom – firstname.lastname@example.org Requests MUST be made by Monday 12th April to enable appropriate supervision arrangements to be made.
Important message about Buses
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has recently opened the consultation period on its Long Term Plan for 2021-2031. One of the key proposals on which it is seeking feedback is the Tauranga schools free fares trial, which will end in December 2021. For each proposal included within the Consultation Document, the regional council must signal its preferred option. Its preferred choice on this topic is ‘No free fares for school children’. While I will be making a submission on behalf of the College, I encourage you to have your say as part of this new consultation as well. We have a large number of students who bus to school and are fully supportive of the free trial being continued.
As I said above, it has been a busy and exciting start to the year, and I encourage you to read all about it in this newsletter. I extend best wishes to all students, staff and the wider College community for continued success in 2021.
May God’s Blessings be upon us all.
M R Dalton
The past five weeks, the Year 11 Peer Support Leaders have been working with the Year 7 cohort to feel supported and develop a sense of belonging in their new school environment. Some of the themes we have been working on together are communication, self-awareness, exploring our values and unpacking our fears and feelings.