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