We had our open evening last Monday night and our first music evening on Wednesday night. Only a few weeks ago we felt resigned to the fact that these sorts of events wouldn’t happen this year. It’s been lovely to see the re-activation of our cultural and sporting programmes. We are very lucky that we can go about living our lives quite normally in the face of this world wide pandemic.
If you are a regular reader of the weekly wrap up, you will know that we were recently visited by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and our finance minister and member for Wellington, Grant Robertson. They were here to announce more funding for the Creatives at Schools initiative. In attendance were a number of students involved in Creative Arts programmes and our He Kākano students. We weren’t able to tell anyone that the Prime Minister was visiting, including the students who turned up believing it was a ministry launch. You can imagine their reaction when they found out who the special guests were. In addition, the event was media free and the Prime Minister expressed to me how much they both enjoy getting away from the cameras, to just see what’s going on. Our He Kākano students have been receiving tutelage from dancers at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and although this relationship has been greatly affected by COVID-19, our students’ muscle memory kicked in and they were able to put on a wonderful demonstration for our leading ministers. The initiative is aimed at getting creatives into schools to provide pathway opportunities for students but also to provide support for people in the industry. After the performance, Jacinda (or ‘Jac’ she told me she was called at school) and Grant, if I may refer to them this way, spent time talking to our students about a wide range of issues including COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, and everyone managed to get photos with them, including my own shameless request for a selfie with the PM. In short, it was a wonderful experience for everyone there and the fact that it was media free made it even better.
At this time of year I am normally speaking about our annual international students dinner. We haven’t been able to run this event this year and we had to say goodbye to many of our international students early in the lockdown phase of COVID-19. Our international students play a wonderful part in our school adding greatly to the cultural mix and having life-changing experiences in a country which for them is a long way from their homes. Last year 111 students from 4 continents spent time here and at this stage for next year we are only expecting to have 27 international students, all of whom are already here and wishing to continue their experience of New Zealand life. I have previously written about the benefits of living beside people from other cultures, and the opportunities it provides our students to examine their own cultural framework and learn to understand and appreciate others. We hope this situation will change for the better and we are able to welcome more students next year, but as we have all found, it is very hard to predict what might happen in this pandemic situation.
I mentioned the open evening in my opening statement and we estimated over 1000 people came to take a closer look at our High School on Monday night. The evening is a wonderful celebration of everything that High has to offer and with 400 enrolment packs taken away, we expect we will be welcoming another large intake at year 9 next year. I have mentioned our struggles with space and you may have noticed we have welcome relief in 4 very nice pre-fabs that have been strategically placed on the southern end of our field. The finishing touches are being put on these to be ready for use at the start of term 3.
I know students and staff will be welcoming a break at last. It feels like it has been one very long term from late January to now. I hope you are able to spend some time with your young person over the break and we look forward to welcoming them back for the start of term 3 on Monday 20 July.