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