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