Category Archives: Principal’s Message

End of Term 2 2018

Kia ora koutou

Term 2 is such an exciting time at High. Winter sports come to the fore and we have an increasing number of students involved in a wide range of sporting activities including badminton, basketball, football, hockey, netball, rugby, and underwater hockey. You may have read previously in these updates that one of our junior boys’ badminton players, Anthony Cater, recently won the Wellington junior singles’ badminton tournament. Well done Anthony, a fine achievement!

The term started with a couple of overseas trips returning from Nepal and Europe. The Nepal trip is our annual trek led my Bharat Pancha to the challenging Himalayan environment and our Europe trip is a biennial Senior Classics and Painted Word trip to England, France and Italy. Students returned from both with new stories of inspiring journeys.

Our annual Shakespeare Society production followed soon after. This year it was Much Ado About Nothing; I mean the play, not the performance. Directors Niamh Vaughan and Arie Faber did a great job at extracting some excellent and funny performances from a very willing cast who continue this great tradition in our school.

Feeder school visits and our open evening became our next focus as we opened ourselves to our community to have a look at a sample of the wonderful activities at High. It was invigorating and exciting to see the very happy faces of our intermediate and primary school visitors as they emerged from their ‘taster’ classes. I particularly want to thank all the students who showed prospective parents and whānau around the school on our open evening. It is often remarked upon that these students are our best advertisements for our school on these evenings which of course they are.

Throughout the term numbers of different students entered and had success in film competitions, visited the Transmission Gully bridge construction site, wore pink shirts in support for a bullying free environment, co-constructed an art exhibition at Te Papa, participated in a climate challenge conference, volunteered at Ronald McDonald house, met with the mayor on behalf of Amnesty International, spoke at Ngā Manu Kōrero, and entered Robocup. Meanwhile other students tramped, acted, debated, played, cooked, swam, studied, and fundraised. And hopefully all of them found some time to relax and smile and enjoy being with each other in the many, varied opportunities on offer.

Our Young Naturalists’ team have recently left to travel to Tbilisi, Georgia to defend our world title and I wish them the best. I also want to give a special mention to our International Young Physicists, Zuni Preece, Sai August and Luke Roeven and their wonderful mentor, High Physics teacher Kerry Parker, who are all travelling to Beijing in the latter part of the holidays with the New Zealand Physics team to compete on the world stage.

This last week has seen two wonderful events: our annual International students’ leaving dinner, a veritable cultural fest; and the first of our biannual music evenings. Both of these were held in our great hall, the Riley Centre, and both continued their rich traditions. The music evening is always a highlight with an exhilarating, sometimes moving, somewhat eclectic range of acts on show. If you haven’t experienced one of these evenings you really must see and hear the sheer talent of our large group of musicians.

Finally, I want to mention our Deputy Principal, Andrew Savage who will be on sabbatical in term 3. Andrew is a tireless, calming, inspirational figure in the school and he will be missed and I wish him well and look forward to welcoming him back in term four.

I hope you get to spend some good time with your young person(s) in the holidays and I hope they can enjoy some time out from the sometimes hectic pace of school life. I look forward to seeing all the students recharged and invigorated for the challenges of the rest of the year.

Ngā mihi nui

 

Dominic Killalea

We are currently spending time marketing ourselves to our community. We have had two feeder school visits and we are about to run our annual Open Evening on Monday 11 June. It is interesting to be running these events at a time when a lot in education is under review.

Tomorrow’s Schools was a reform to the education system in 1989 that essentially established schools to act autonomously with broad goals of improving educational opportunity across the system and reducing disparity between various socio-economic sectors. One way of doing this was to give students the option to attend their school of choice. Schools became managers of their own finances and funding became increasingly based upon student numbers. Equity was seen as being created by choice and schools would survive if they attracted students and were perceived to be doing a good job. However, this model meant that some schools continued to receive more and more funding as student numbers grew while other schools lost funding and therefore did not have the resourcing to enable them to address their declining student numbers.

It is quite obvious that a school can only cater for a certain number of students before it becomes overcrowded so some schools implemented enrolment zones, and because they were self managing, boards determined their enrolment zone with reference to ministry guidelines. This meant that students could not necessarily attend the school of their choice anymore and the ideal of improving educational opportunity actually led to schools in low socio-economic areas and with high Māori populations losing funding and losing their ability to be able to supply a good educational ‘product’.

I arrived at Wellington High School at the end of 2005 as a new Deputy Principal. I remember that when Prue Kelly, who was the Principal of Wellington High School from 1995 to 2011, retired, she told me that the one thing she wouldn’t miss was the ongoing job of trying to get people to see the great work that was occurring in the school and convincing the community to look at us as an educational option. In Prue’s time, the school roll varied between 900 students and 1200 students. Wellington High School had to implement an enrolment zone in Prue’s time because 1200 was becoming seriously overcrowded. We are faced with the same reality at present. Our school roll is sitting at around 1250 students and almost every space is being used at all times. We have spoken to the Ministry who project that ‘in zone’ enrolments will continue to increase in coming years. Since 2012, numbers across Wellington city schools have increased by about 500 students. At Wellington High, our population has increased by about 250 students in this time. In other words, we have taken on about half of the extra ‘in zone’ enrolments in this time. This is a good position for the school to be in. It means our marketing has shifted from focusing on why students should come here to why students do come here. It has also allowed us to strengthen our links with our city feeder schools and tighten our community which is becoming increasingly Wellington city based.

I spoke to our feeder school students about opportunity, and educational opportunity should be the same for everyone regardless of where they live. Our success should not be at the expense of other schools. If we want a more equitable society, we need to invest in equal educational opportunities for all. This has been one of the great challenges of Tomorrow’s Schools and where it has fallen short. The competitive model that was created ended up creating greater disparity in many of the areas it was trying to address.

Equitable outcomes for all has always been the strongest characteristic of Wellington High School. We are frequently consulted by the Ministry and the Education Review Office in areas such as bullying, gender diversity, restorative practices, and sex education. This is not the sum total but a part of who we are. Despite the challenges of a changing demographic, we will continue to lead our community in such areas because it is the right thing to do, particularly in a competitive environment.

 

Ngā mihi nui

Dominic Killalea

 

The term has drawn to a close. The first term is a difficult one for a lot of students as they settle into new classes and, for those students attempting NCEA for the first time, things seem more daunting. The Education Review Office visited us during the term and they have reported very favourably about the direction and priorities of the school. The report is currently in draft form and I hope to be able to share that with you early next term. One of the talking points of the review was defining success. When we interview students before enrolment at Wellington High School we always ask you, the parents, what success looks like for your young person. I am always heartened to hear when the response is “I would like my son / daughter to be happy” and this is in most cases. If our primary focus is that our children are happy we have started them on the pathway to success. And we know that success is multi-faceted and quite personal.

Thank you for your understanding in relation to the lockdown drill that we ran last week. I think it is very important that we rehearse our behaviour in situations such as evacuation and lockdown procedures so that everyone is clear on what they need to do. I see that the media created a story out of our situation (see https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/354637/hundreds-of-schools-getting-private-lockdown-training) questioning the relevance of such a procedure whilst carrying headlines on the banner at the right of 4 lockdown situations that had already occurred this year in NZ schools. Somewhat ironic and not really a story. I spoke to the reporter but wasn’t quoted in the article. I had suggested that a better story would be to report on our Young Physicists who recently became the national champions in the International Young Physicists’ Tournament. This has been reported elsewhere in our weekly updates but Luke Roeven, Sai August and Zuni Preece not only won the national competition but all three have been selected to represent New Zealand in an international competition in China in July. The team that New Zealand will send is only five students so it is quite remarkable that all three have been chosen for this. I must also extend my congratulations to our two outstanding Physics teachers, Kerry Parker and Murray Chisholm, who have been spending long hours coaching and preparing the students.

Finally, some of our sporting teams were recently involved in a sporting exchange with Newlands College. It was a relatively small affair with only 7 sporting teams competing but we hope for this to become a regular feature of our sporting calendar in coming years. As winter approaches, try to encourage your young person to get involved with one of the many and varied sporting or cultural opportunities. School is a wonderful time to be involved, experience something new and possibly find one’s passion.

I hope you are able to spend some good family time with your young person over the break.

Nga mihi

Dominic Killalea

It is hard to believe that we are already in the latter part of term 1 2018. There has been a lot going on and a lot of student success over a wide range of areas. If you are a regular reader of the weekly updates you will already know this.
In a couple of weekly updates in the latter part of last year I asked for your feedback on our new strategic plan which we were putting in place for 2018 onwards. Thank you to those who were able to respond. The Board, the Senior Leadership team, staff and groups of students spent time putting the strategic plan together during terms 2, 3 and 4 last year. Essentially it was a chance for us to align our plan with our practice. WERO has gained strong traction in the school since it was introduced by Nigel Hanton a few years ago. It is a Māori word meaning ‘challenge’ and we have appropriated the initials of this word to represent our core values and priorities.

W is for Whānau and represents that education is a partnership between the school and families. We have the greatest success when we are all working together. When we speak about whānau we also mean this in the wider community sense in that we are trying to look after all of our students and make sure everyone is given a fair, even chance of success and that no one is left behind.

E represents Excellence. Excellence is not confined to achievement at the very highest level but represents everyone giving their best and achieving to their highest level or finding their own personal level of excellence. Excellence is also not confined to academic areas but includes sporting, cultural, social and personal excellence.

R is for Respect because respectful relationships should be at the core of what we do and what we want our young people to acquire. R could also represent relational practice – the importance of good relationships reflecting good teaching practice. And R could also represent Restorative because things will go wrong and it’s important that we try and repair the harm that may have been caused.

O stands for Ora representing physical and emotional wellbeing. We all need quality of life and we need to actively take steps to look after ourselves and others.

From our strategic plan we have created an annual plan for 2018 and I am happy to share this with you. You can view both of these documents as well as our charter here – they are also on our school website under the ‘About Us’ tab.

The Education Review Office (ERO) spent about one and a half weeks in the school from Monday 26 February to Wednesday 7 March. This visit was a scheduled cyclical review that all schools and early childhood centres in New Zealand undergo. The visit was based around the over-arching question: ‘How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?’ ERO spent time in our school collecting evidence in classrooms, in interviews with students and staff and through our documentation and self review. On the last day, ERO gave us a verbal report back which we feel was very positive about what we are doing at High. The draft report will be published around Easter and I will be able to make the final report available to you either at the end of this term or early next term.

Finally, we are fast approaching our first learning conversations meeting on Thursday 29 March. This should be a good opportunity for you to get some good feedback on your student and make some goals for the year. Try and take some time before the day to discuss what your young person would like to achieve this year and base your conversation roughly around three goals. In my statements above about the strategic plan, I emphasised the more holistic view of achievement. As a starting point you might ask them about what they want to achieve academically, what contribution or service they could make to the community and what they might be starting to think in relation to pathways.

After learning conversations, we have a short break for Easter (including Easter Tuesday which is a school holiday) and then one and a half weeks before the end of term 1.

Ngā mihi nui

Dominic Killalea

The end of the school year has come and gone and I write a few days after our juniors have left us for the year. Term 4 is always a busy time and it brought a lot of significant events in terms of celebrations and prizegivings for both seniors and juniors. I attended a tutors’ evening for our Community Education classes on Friday 1 December and I spent time talking to an ex student of ours who had been here in the 1950s. She talked to me about the effect the school had had on her and how our old school motto had shaped her life. It was wonderful to hear her reference our old school motto ‘Qui Servit Ille Maximus’ which means ‘Who Serves is Greatest’. The motto was introduced by the 3rd Director of Wellington Technical College, John Howell, in the 1920s and his conception of service was one’s selfless duty to community. Evidently, the motto was a strong force in the former College and in the first 20 years of the High School and this ex student said she felt very strongly connected to it and this was part of why she was working as a tutor for our evening classes – this was part of her idea of service.

When I spoke at Senior Prizegiving I spoke to our departing senior students about some of what my own schooling had given me and I referenced a Robert Frost poem, Mending Wall. I have put a link to this poem here. The poem is about two neighbours who meet each year and repair the stone wall between their farms. On the one hand you have the neighbour who insists on keeping the wall between them while the writer questions the point of the wall. And it doesn’t seem to matter what the writer thinks as the neighbour continually asserts that ‘Good fences make good neighbours’. Although the poem was written over a hundred years ago, it seemed to me a wonderful vehicle to begin to comprehend some of what has been going on in the world of late. I’d like to think that in a great school such as this one that we don’t wall in and we don’t wall out. I’d like to think that we listen to each other and take the time to understand each other and that we will question those that will put metaphorical fences between us.

In making a decision that all of our year 9 students will have Te Ao Māori included as part of their core studies in 2018 plus the opportunity to learn another language, this is one way that we can open up ourselves to new learnings and build greater cultural awareness and understanding.

At our junior prizegiving I spoke to our junior students about their journey through secondary schooling and taking advantage of the opportunities that have been and will be presented to them.

At this point in their schooling they are at the early stages in a journey and, hopefully, they are starting to feel connected to our school. They are finding ways and trying things that they may not have tried before. They are giving things a go!

After my senior prizegiving speech, a number of people had spoken to me about Robert Frost and a far more famous poem he had written called ‘The Road Not Taken’ so I decided to read that to the junior cohort and parent and caregivers. I am including a link to this poem here. This is a good time for our junior students, and indeed all of our students, to reflect on their year and ask themselves a few questions.

  • ‘Have I tried something new this year’?
  • ‘Have I reached a fork in the road and decided to take a different path from what I might have taken’?
  • ‘Have I taken advantage of the opportunities available to me and learnt more about myself’?

I hope that many of them can answer yes to these questions and for those that can’t it provides opportunity for next year.

Finally, I hope you and your young person thoroughly enjoy the time you will have together in the school holidays and we look forward to seeing you back next year!

Ngā mihi nui

Dominic Killalea

 

Mid Term 4 2017

We are very quickly heading towards the end of the year and this term is only 8 weeks. We have just waved goodbye to our seniors and we have run a number of really enjoyable prizegiving events honouring the contributions made by so many of our students. NCEA exams have commenced and the majority of our senior students are currently preparing themselves for these. The change of government has raised the relentless cycle of NCEA assessment that seems to be occurring for our young people mostly in years 11, 12 and 13 and the relationship between assessment and wellbeing. As a staff, we have been talking about this for quite some time. Schools are places of learning and growing and although assessment is important, it does take time away from learning! We have already embarked on a senior curriculum review and I anticipate we will be consulting widely with students, parents and our community about changes we might want to make to what senior school may look like in 2019 at WHS.

We are also currently undertaking a review of our strategic plan and we would like to invite you to comment on our progress to date. I anticipate I will have a link in next week’s weekly update where you can view our draft plan and make comments.

I mentioned at senior prizegiving the retirements of several long standing staff members. Joan Hinton (Science 1981-2017), Marietjie van Schalkwyk (Technology 1998-2017), Denis Wright (English 2001-2017) and Jane Shallcrass (Library 2002-2017) will all be leaving us at the end of this year. They have all been wonderful, inspiring members of staff who will be greatly missed. We wish them well in their retirement.

We have recently approved building remediation work to be undertaken on the eastern side of the hall. This should greatly rejuvenate this space and this work is likely to occur over the first two terms of next year.

Summer sports have commenced (and in the case of senior volleyball has already finished for the term) so students are actively involved in floorball, futsal, touch rugby, cricket and ultimate Frisbee. I encourage you to encourage your young person to get involved with sport next year if they are not already. We have an excellent sports programme that offers a wide range of sports for all ability levels. You can find out more details from Wendy McIntyre, our sports coordinator (wendy.mcintyre@whs.school.nz).

Ngā mihi nui

Dominic Killalea

As we reach the end of term 3, our senior students are preparing for the most busy and stressful time of year having recently completed school examinations that will enable them to gauge their progress to date on externally assessed standards or spend valuable time on portfolio work. Reports for seniors are available on the portal and it would be productive if you are able to spend some time with your young one and talk about the school examinations and the implications for the end of year exams. External examinations commence in about 6 weeks time on Thursday 9 November so there is still some time for students to action that study plan and set themselves up for success. Of paramount importance is that students are in class as much as possible to give themselves the best chance of success. Please continue to support us by emphasising to your student(s) the importance of attendance and punctuality each period, each day.

This is also a time when a lot of our senior students are doing pathway planning. Chuni Bhikha, our careers advisor pointed me to an interesting article from Stuff about areas where there are skills shortages and where there is likely to be job growth in the next few years. A lot needs to be considered when students are planning their future pathway and I have pasted the link below.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/83371260/Massive-opportunities-in-looming-skills-shortage

If you saw last week’s weekly update you would have seen that our junior debaters performed outstandingly to win the WGT Wiggs trophy for only the second time since its inception in 1974 (we also won in 2013). They are the premier debaters in the Wellington region in the junior division this year and this is truly an outstanding achievement. Congratulations to Ben Watkins, Xandi Gobbi, Harrison Scott and Josh Bluck. In addition, Ben Watkins was voted Best speaker. Special thanks to Denis Wright who has mentored a number of very successful debating teams over the years.

Winter sport has drawn to a close for 2017 and there have been outstanding performances across a wide range of sports. We will be celebrating these performances at our annual Sports Prizegiving on Tuesday 31 October at 10.45am in the Riley Centre. Please join us if you are able to. Congratulations to all those who have participated in sport so far this year and a particular thank you to the coaches and managers who spend so much of their time providing great experiences for our students.

Our music evening last Tuesday was another great night. The standard of musicianship was, as always, very high (no pun intended) but the evening felt a little more mellow than normal. I think that was a combination of some of the song choices and the fact that we won’t get to hear Daniel Martin, Cassandra Bahr, Poppy Donaldson, Lauren Jack, Ruby Robinson-Shaw and Rita Zhao at music evening again. A lot of the students seemed to be waiting for the traditional mosh pit dance towards the end of the programme and right at the end of an appropriate number a few students made their way to the front. This led a stampede of eager dancers who were then met with a couple of jazz fusion numbers. I think it is the only time in my life I have seen a mosh pit for jazz. The performances over the night were quite outstanding and testament to the wonderfully eclectic music programmes so ably led by Fritz Wollner.

On Tuesday 12 September we held our first WERO day, a day of wellbeing where year 13 students were off timetable and able to attend a range of workshops. This is the first time we have done this and I feel it was a great success. The idea came from conversations between Jania Bates and her rōpū last year – students wanted a chance to find out more about aspects of ‘adult’ life such as practicalities of flatting, finance, sexual relationships, and consent education. The day was put together by the WERO leaders and overseen by Deputy Principal Megan Southwell. We are already making plans for the next edition next year.

Finally, this is a time when we are looking ahead to the new year and making decisions in relation to timetable, staffing and resourcing. I am very proud to announce that we will be offering Te Reo Maori to all of our incoming year 9 students as part of our core for 2 hours a week for the whole year. It is wonderful that this announcement comes days after Wellington Girls’ College have announced a similar strategy and we should celebrate that some Wellington schools are able to resource this important opportunity for our young people. It is important for all of us to continue to build our knowledge of Maori Tikanga and Te Reo to strengthen identity and culture and we are in the very fortunate position that we have two teachers who can teach Te Reo Maori.

I hope you are able to spend some valuable time with your young person over the school holidays. Help provide them with the memories that will last a lifetime!

Nga mihi nui

Dominic Killalea

 

 

We have reached the middle of term 3. Winter sports are finishing and seniors will be involved in school exams from today for a week. The school exams are very important for a number of reasons. Firstly, they provide students with important feedback / feed forward for external standards that they will be sitting in about 11 weeks’ time. Secondly, they provide derived grade evidence if a student is unable to do an exam at the end of the year because of illness or misfortune. Finally, they are great preparation for year 11 students, in particular, to get a taste of what the exam period will be like at the end of the year. Students in years 11 to 13 are only expected to be at school when their exams are scheduled. It is vitally important that students take these exams seriously and use the information that they will gain from them to formulate effective study programmes that will see them achieve to the best of their ability in the final exams.

For the first time since I arrived at Wellington High School at the end of 2005, we have had to enforce our enrolment zone at all years. Each year we get a number of students from outside our zone who apply to be at Wellington High School. Each year this is a fairly simple process because for many years we have allowed all students on the ballot. This year we have had to restrict the numbers from outside our zone wishing to enrol into year 9 next year and we will probably have to do the same for students outside our zone wishing to enrol in years 10 to 13. I have looked at the numbers across all schools in Wellington city since 2012 and the net growth in that period has been approximately 500 students. Incredibly, almost half that growth has been at Wellington High School taking us from around 970 in 2012 to 1200 last year. This year we peaked at 1270. It is a good problem to have and surely reflects our growing status amongst Wellington families and testament to the outstanding work that goes on here.

Winter sport will be mostly wrapped up this weekend. There was a large number of students and staff on hand to witness our junior basketballers take out their division last Tuesday evening. It would have been a nice experience for those junior players as the game progressed and they could feel and hear the crowd ever more vocal in their support for them. Well done to all the students who participated in sport this winter and a big thank you to all the teachers and volunteers who have coached and managed teams. I really appreciate the time you have taken and it makes a huge difference to the lives of our teenagers.

The remediation work on the music, drama and library blocks has been completed and these buildings are looking very impressive. This work also took in some of the western wall of our great hall and currently we are planning for more work on the rest of the hall, particularly the eastern side, around Christmas this year.

Friday 4 August saw us hosting our local political candidates in our wonderful library in what is becoming a tradition at Wellington High School. Candidates from National, Labour, the Greens and The Opportunities Party introduced themselves briefly then were grilled by our students. A fire alarm provided some respite for the candidates but only gave the students even more time to think of the hard questions to ask. All of the candidates acquitted themselves well, and our students spoke respectfully and thoughtfully to them. A particular thank you to Kate Mills-Workman (year 13) who organised and facilitated the event.

Friday 4 August was also the ‘junior ball’; really a junior dance but a chance for some to put on some special clothes and moves. Our senior ball committee led by Kitty Hollis and Ava Monro, organised this as a fund raising event for the senior ball and many of the seniors were there to help supervise and support what was a wonderful night for all. Sometimes I think that the seniors actually enjoy these events more than their own ball!

Wednesday 9 August should have been our sports exchange with Newlands College but the inclement weather put paid to that idea. We had high hopes for this exchange but we will try and set something up with Newlands for next year.

On Friday 18 August we said farewell to Matua Ben Tangaere, formerly our Head of Maori, who retired from teaching at the end of term 2 and who had been at High since 1997. Around 200 people from all over New Zealand were there to celebrate Ben’s career in teaching which had started at Mangere College in Auckland in 1977. The evening was a fitting tribute to Ben with korero, waiata and much aroha towards him. Ben kia pai o ra whakata!

Nga mihi nui

Dominic Killalea

 

It felt a little like Christmas last Friday when I drove into work to see the shrink wrap had been taken off our music and drama block revealing … our music and drama block, but with a beautiful new (and hopefully watertight) exterior. This building and the adjacent library have been a part of some leaky buildings remediation work that has presented challenges to us all. This has also revealed to us that we will need to do some similar work on our centrepiece hall in the very near future but it is nice to know that we will start term 3 free from the challenges of the previous two terms.

This has been my first term as Principal and I have really enjoyed a busy, sometimes hectic but ultimately satisfying 10 weeks. Term 2 started with about a third of our students becoming engaged in a wide range of winter sports. I would love to see more students involved in sport in general but I have had the pleasure of watching some highly engaging and competitive sport so far. It’s exciting to see that around 120 students are engaged in badminton which must be our fastest growing sport, and I must mention our senior A netballers in particular who play heart stoppingly close games each week, wonderfully coached by Kendra Blackburn and Tash Wilson, two of our many volunteer coaches who we depend on so much.

Term 2 also started with the Shakespeare Society’s popular version of Romeo and Juliet which was a credit to the ongoing leadership and skills of our many students involved in this student led society. It is wonderful to see the number of past society members who also still engage by attending the annual production. This society is one of the jewels of the school.

Term 2 has also seen feeder school visits and our annual open evening as we make preparations for 2018. We enjoy promoting ourselves to our community and beyond. Enrolments for year 9 close on 31 July 2017 so please encourage anyone intending on enrolling, to get their paperwork in promptly.

We also started the term with trips returning from Japan, Nepal and China and we have just farewelled students heading to Europe and Samoa. These trips are fantastic learning opportunities for all involved.

The final week of term has been an interesting reflection of the many, varied opportunities that we offer our students. Firstly, a group of our science students flew to China to compete in a Young Naturalists competition where they were required to solve challenging science problems. They qualified for the final against Switzerland and China and in a very close competition emerged as world champions! Congratulations to Zuni, Tristan, Anna, Sai, Luke and Ethan and to their endlessly devoted teacher, Murray Chisholm. At the same time Otis Rea, one of our brilliant year 13 Physicists is currently captaining the New Zealand Young Physicists team as they compete internationally in Singapore.

Tuesday this week showcased our musicians with music evening. This event is always a highlight of the year for the eclectic mix of musical styles on display. A parent said to me that this was the best music evening he’d been to in eight years and it was hard to disagree but to me that is like trying to name my favourite Beatles song. There have been so many good ones and this continued the high standard of performance. I particularly enjoyed listening to our two wonderful violinists Cassandra Bahr and Lauren Jack, both in year 13, and I try to imagine life at Wellington High music evenings without them – it will never be the same. Other particular highlights for me were Jarad Brown’s beatbox, a smooth version of Johnny B Goode by some of our year 11s, and of course our recent Rockquest participants, year 12 band Retriever. In a way, it doesn’t feel right to single out a few acts because the overall standard was quite outstanding and another reflection of the fine work being done in our music programmes. There was also a nice surprise before the music evening with an exhibition of year 10 Art in the foyer. The quality of the work on display was again outstanding.

Finally, this week also saw our kapahaka group perform at the regional kapahaka championships in Otaki. The students involved have put in an immense amount of work spending long weekends in practice. Their performance on Wednesday was probably my favourite moment of the term. They made the many parents, supporters, tutors and teachers there very proud to be associated with them and the way they have conducted themselves and performed.

Learning profiles were posted on the portal last week and this is an opportunity for you to have a conversation with your student about how their learning is tracking at this mid-point of the year. Please take some time to check out the appropriate links to assessment, attendance and reports to get an idea of how your student is progressing.Don’t forget to book in your parent-teacher interview for early next term.

Finally, our kaumatua Ben Tangaere has announced that he will retire on Friday 7 July. This will reach you on his last day in teaching. Ben has been a teacher for 40 years starting at Mangere College in 1977 and arriving at High in 1997. Ben’s tribal affiliations are Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu and Ben has been devoted to kaupapa maori education his whole career. Ben was our Head of Maori language for many years and he has also taught in the Social Sciences faculty. He oversaw the establishment of kapahaka at Wellington High School and at a regional level and he was involved in basketball and volleyball coaching earlier in his career. Ben’s warmth and care for all students has made a profound contribution to the atmosphere at Wellington High School. We wish him well in his retirement and he will be greatly missed.

I hope you are able to spend some good time with your teenager over the coming break and we look forward to seeing you again in term 3.

Nga mihi nui.

Dominic Killalea