Principal's Message

Principal’s Message – Mid-Term 3, 2018

If you are a regular reader of our weekly wrap up you would know about the wide range of achievements of our students. Recently Heidi Coleman (year 11) was named as a U18 Wellington Rugby representative, Molly Doyle (Y12) was awarded a scholarship to be a global ambassador for Southern Cross and study in Norway for three months this year and Seth Robertson (Y13) placed 2nd at the senior level at the Confucius’ Institute Chinese Bridge speech competition for secondary schools. Aleia Spendiff (Y11) won her grade at the recent College Sport Wellington Squash Championships, our Senior Premier A debate team — Rilke Comer (Y12), Rusheen Draper (Y12) and Xandi Gobbi (Y11) —  have made the finals in the Wellington Speaking Union competition to be held at Parliament on 11 September against HIBS, and Anthony Cater (Y10) recently won the junior boys singles championship at the Wellington regional badminton championships. Christo Matheson and Josh Campbell (both Y13) were selected in the NZ U19 Mens Floorball team, our International Young Physicists representatives Ensai August, Zuni Preece and Luke Roeven (all Y13), who made up three fifths of the NZ national team, returned from China with bronze medals and a group of our Art students (Y11 to 13) co-created the Tony Fomison – Lost in the Dark exhibition at Te Papa.

As I pondered the breadth of achievement here, an email arrived in my Inbox mentioning the latest report from PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). The focus of the report was “what kinds of activities are common among teenagers who work well with others?” The report states that “…schools are not just four walls inside of which students learn how to read, write and think. Schools provide a venue where young people meet each other, and where they develop relationships and friendships that may last for decades. At school, students socialise and hone the interpersonal skills that are required to function effectively in the workplace and in society at large. Employers value such skills more now than ever before: wages have risen more for jobs that demand a high level of social skills than for jobs that require only a low level of social skills.” The full report can be read here.

Working well with others is the foundation of our school values – it’s in our WERO – how we relate to Whānau, how we Respect each other and our own and other’s Ora – our physical and emotional well being.

My interest was particularly piqued by the finding that 15 year old students who are physically active, engage in social activities outside of school (including online social networks) and help out in their household have high collaboration skills and more positive attitudes towards their team members. It is no surprise that students in New Zealand scored very highly on this aspect as we have a very active culture embedded. Over the Wellington region secondary student participation in sport is about 60%. Unfortunately at High, only about 40% of our students participate in sport. For those who don’t participate I urge you to consider giving something a go this summer. A wonderful aspect of this school is we are not a place defined by a certain sport. We have a wide range of sports and a wide range of levels catering from beginners to more skillful players. The best part of the PISA report is it talks about moderate physical activity, not highly competitive win-at-all-costs. It is easy to believe that students working together in a team environment, giving something a go, and trying their best brings out and strengthens all of their best qualities.

I am mindful of the journey of our junior boys’ football team this year. Earlier in the season I went to watch them play a team from Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS). We lost the game that day by 15-0 which is a substantial margin but what really impressed me about them is that throughout the game and at the end, they were happy and encouraging each other, despite the scoreline. I heard no put downs, no one arguing, and no one storming off on their own in frustration. Their wonderful coach, Mr Ben Roth-Shank, continued to encourage them, and they listened to him respectfully at all times. The same team played HIBS again a few weeks ago. This time we drew 3-3 and in a way that was no surprise because they are clearly a team who work well together. Through this sporting experience, they have learned to work well with others and develop high level social skills which will be transferable to a wide range of contexts over the rest of their lives. Their achievement sits well with the students I mentioned at the beginning of this message and further evidence of the final core value, the E in WERO, personal Excellence.