Kia ora whanau
Nga mihi nui ki a koutou me te tangi hoki ki a ratau kua riro atu.
As we approach the end of Term 1, it presents an opportunity to reflect on what has been a very busy and positive term in the life of the College, as you will read in this newsletter. At the risk of presenting some newsletter spoilers, I want to pay special tribute to several groups and individuals throughout my message to you.
Firstly, I want to pay a special tribute to Vince Shaw, our Director of Special Character. Mr Shaw is retiring at the end of the term. Mr Shaw has been a teacher in Secondary education for over forty years. Although raised in Manchester, he did his training and initial teaching service in Scotland. Promotion took him back to the north of England until 1996 when Mr Shaw and his family emigrated to New Zealand. Mr Shaw taught in the Waikato, before moving to the Bay of Plenty to take up the Head of Mathematics role at Aquinas College in 2007. After four years in this role, Mr Shaw then moved into the Senior Leadership team as Director of Special Character (DRS). Mr Shaw loves to see students thrive, socially, educationally and spiritually. Seeing students in a most supportive environment is what gives Mr Shaw the most satisfaction. I know he is very happy to have been a part of their growth into young men and women of faith.
Four years ago Mr Shaw became a Deacon. This marked a new chapter in Mr Shaw’s life and he foresees that in his retirement this will take up more of his time. Alongside that he looks forward to spending more time with his family, including his new granddaughter.
We will have the opportunity to recognise and pay tribute to Mr Shaw in a special Liturgy on Friday 13 April. Furthermore, on May 16 we are fortunate to have Bishop Steve joining us to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit. This Mass will also recognise Mr Shaw’s significant service and contribution to Aquinas College and Catholic education generally. Bishop Steve will also commission Mrs Susan Van Zyl as she steps into the role of Director of Special Character from Term 2.
While my personal association with Mr Shaw has been a short one, I have valued our time as colleagues. I have appreciated his wise advice and counsel.
While Mr Shaw is retiring in an official capacity, he has agreed to rejoin the College in a relieving capacity next term for Mrs Meyer who will be on leave for Term 2.
This year marked the first official Sacramental programme facilitated by our College in more than 10 years. I was fortunate to be invited to the celebration dinner on Friday 6 April which marked the conclusion of the programme. Our students and their families were invited and shared a wonderful evening. 13 students, across Years 7-13, are preparing to receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion. Four of these are also preparing to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. This has been a wonderful opportunity for the school, parishes and families to unite in supporting these young people as they make the next step in their faith journey. We look forward to celebrating the sacraments with them next term as we approach the great feast of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the wonderful work of Mrs Harris and Mr Shaw. I sincerely thank them for leading our students, advancing and enabling their faith journey.
17 students, supported by three members of staff, completed the annual cross walk on Wednesday 28 March. Our students carried the cross on through the streets of Tauranga. They started at St Thomas More church at 8.15am, travelling through St Mary Immaculate Church and St Mary’s School on their way back to the College in time for our Easter Liturgy. We held a beautiful student led Liturgy that focused on the events of Holy Week. Our Year 13 students planned and delivered a special Liturgy that brought the Easter story alive; paying tribute to traditional Catholicism, while melding in contemporary relevance. Our students managed to weave powerful messages for our College community throughout the Liturgy.
Class 10P, who through their Caritas Social Actions, raised more than $2,500. This was an incredible feat for these students. They undertook a wide variety of fundraisers over two weeks. I congratulate them for their commitment to this cause.
Summer Tournament Week marked the end of the summer sport season for most codes. We had nine teams representing us proudly. As you will read in the newsletter, we had some excellent successes, punctuated by the achievements of our Senior Girls Basketball Team (finishing 8th in New Zealand), Stella Janissen and Aoife Taylor who competed in the Maadi Cup, with Stella finishing 15th in the country in the Under 16 Single Scull and our First XI Cricketers (3rd in Northern Districts Gillette Cup & 1st in the Northern Districts 20/20 Tournament). I encourage you to read about all of our summer sporting successes in this newsletter. We recognised these achievements in school assembly, with each team having a representative deliver a report.
We have held both our Year 7/8 and Years 9-13 Swimming Sports this term. Well done to all of our students who competed in these Annual Swimming Championships. These events again brought the competitive House spirit to the fore. There were some great results achieved by our students. In particular a special congratulations to Lochlainn O’Connor, Connor Farrell, Ruby Helm and Caitlin Farrell who all achieved new school records in the pool.
At this point I must pay tribute to all of the people who invest their time and effort into our students so that they may participate in, and enjoy such a wide variety of sporting activities. A most sincere thank you to all of our TIC’s, committees, coaches, managers and volunteers who enable our students to have these wonderful opportunities. Without your passion and commitment, our students wouldn’t enjoy the opportunities and successes they currently enjoy. Thank you so very much!!!
Our students have been diligently learning our school Haka. House assemblies have been the vehicle for the Year 13 student leaders to develop this special Taonga of our College. I look forward to seeing continued progress in this regard.
Student Celebrations in Music include:
– Duncan and Ronan Hendry performed in Rotorua at National Pipe Band Championships.
– Baxter Blair performed at National Jazz Festival over the Easter break.
– Matthew Karton was nominated for PACANZ National awards in dance.
Two Year 13 students, Jessica Treanor and Lilli Scott brought a proposal to me about creating a student newspaper. They then set about establishing a group like minded students that were passionate about delivering a collaborative student newspaper. They have just completed their first issue of the Collective Chronicle, and I include the link here. I congratulate these students for delivering so impressively on their vision. We can look forward to three more publications this year, one per term.
I would like to advise of the following staff changes for Term 2:
Mrs Susan Van Zyl, as has previously been announced, will move into the role of Director of Special Character on the College Senior Leadership Team. I look forward to working with Mrs Van Zyl in this pivotal role in the life of our College. Mrs Van Zyl will also move into Mr Shaw’s teaching timetable as part of this change.
Mrs Alison Fitzpatrick is taking maternity leave at the end of this term. We wish Mrs Fitzpatrick God’s blessings as she and her husband prepare themselves for the birth of their first child.
We welcome Mrs Caitlin Tarr as our new Sports Coordinator. Mrs Tarr joined us several weeks ago from Papamoa College. We are fortunate to appoint someone of her experience and capability to this position.
We welcome Rebekah Thompson into the Year 7/8 Faculty. Mrs Thompson will be taking over from Mrs Van Zyl. Mrs Thompson is a graduate of the Bethlehem Tertiary Institute and joins us from Bethlehem College.
We welcome Miss Ashleen Fahy into the Music and Social Sciences Faculties. Miss Fahy is a new graduate of the University of Waikato. Miss Fahy is replacing Mrs Fitzpatrick for the duration of her maternity leave.
We also welcome Mr Joe Thomas in the Brass itinerant teaching role. Mr Thomas brings a wealth of experience, he has just completed a six year stint playing professionally in the New Zealand Army Band.
Mrs Carla Moriarty has resigned from her position as library assistant at Aquinas. We farewelled Mrs Moriarty several weeks ago.
There have been a worrying number of requests for student leave in Term time. Schools, along with parents and guardians, are legally responsible for making sure students attend school. Under Section 25 and section 31 of the The Education Act 1989, every school board must take all reasonable steps to make sure students attend school when it is open. Our College procedure requires all leave of three or more days to be granted by the Principal. While I appreciate there are always special circumstances that necessitate these requests, I ask for your support when planning holidays during term time that don’t fit in this category.
A second issue that has surfaced this term is the number of students who are leaving school early on a consistent basis for work commitments. Unless special circumstances require it and permission is granted by the Principal, students should not be leaving school early for this reason. Whilst I appreciate the many benefits of part-time work for our students, I wish to avoid these working arrangements coming at the cost of their education.
I want to pass on my thanks to everyone who completed my survey earlier this term. As you will remember, I issued the same survey to our students, our parents/caregivers and our staff. There were 163 students, 92 parents/caregivers and 56 members of staff that completed the survey. This feedback is very valuable. It provides us clear signposts. Please know that ALL feedback has been read and we will be looking to act as appropriate on this feedback. The common threads will take the highest priority. I have included a synopsis of the common threads and how we are planning to address these below:
Question 1 – STOP
– Shared issue for Yr. 9/10 girls, Yr. 11-13 girls, Yr. 11-13 boys.
Question 2 – START
– Shared issue for Yr. 7/8 girls, Yr. 11-13 girls, Yr. 11 – 13 boys and whanau.
– Shared issue for Yr. 9/10 girls, Yr. 9/10 boys, Yr. 11 – 13 girls, Yr. 11 – 13 boys.
Question 3 – KEEP DOING
– Shared issue for Yr. 9/10 girls, Yr. 9/10 boys, Yr. 11 – 13 girls.
– shared issue for Yr. 11 – 13 boys, staff and whanau.
Question 4 – ADVICE FOR OUR NEW PRINCIPAL
– Shared issue for Yr. 7/8 girls, Yr. 7/8 boys, Yr. 9/10 girls, Yr. 9/10 boys, Yr. 11 – 13 girls, Yr. 11 – 13 boys.
– Shared issue for Yr. 11 – 13 girls, Yr. 11 – 13 boys and whanau.
– Shared issue for staff and whanau.
– Shared issue for Yr. 11 – 13 girls, Yr. 11 – 13 boys, staff and whanau.
In this, the season of Easter, let me leave you with a piece of Scripture
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, “Peace be with you!”
20 and, after saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord,
21 and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’
The message: We are sent to proclaim the joy and the Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus – don’t keep it to yourself!
Thank you to everyone for a great start to our 2018 school year and I wish you all a safe and relaxing holiday and another successful school term starting on Monday 30 April 2018. May God’s Blessings be upon you all.