Kia ora koutou,
It seems an incredibly long time ago since I wrote the first editorial for the weekly digest, and yet at the same time this year seems to have flown by at a tremendous rate. Life before Covid-19 seems to have been in a different year, even a different decade, and things have all changed so much. I feel that we now have a clearer sense of what is important and what matters most; the concept of coming together as a collective is more widespread, and our need to connect with others is stronger than ever. Through the year, I have moved through several iterations of summer plans, from a trip back to the UK and Ireland to connect with family and friends, to a trip staying closer to home over in Australia to visit immediate family, and now to a summer within the borders of New Zealand. There is no doubt that Covid has had widespread and lasting impact worldwide. Despite the devastation it has wrought, it has helped me to ensure I seek the things I am grateful for: I am grateful that my family, though separated, are all well and staying in touch; I am thankful that I am spending the holiday break in one of the most beautiful places in the world; and most of all I am thankful that we worked together as a nation to keep Covid at bay, and that life in New Zealand is largely ‘business as usual’, unlike many other places around the world. We can spend the summer connecting with each other in this beautiful place, and that is something we can all celebrate and give thanks for.
There are so many people to thank at the end of this strangest of years:
- Our fantastic parents, for all of your support and encouragement. You took all of the changes and adaptations that we needed to make through the different alert levels in your stride. You all became teachers during lockdown, and worked your way through the labyrinth of online tools, apps and docs. When face to face contact was not possible at different points through the year, you found other ways to connect with us and support your children. Last week, staff were presented with a Prezzi card that our community had come together to contribute to, and they were overwhelmed by your generosity and kind thoughts. We are extremely appreciative of your ongoing support, and we know we could not do what we do without you all.
- Our amazing staff, for the never ending hard work and dedication towards doing the very best that you can for our students. On the day after students finished, staff were all back working to prepare for next year, and your enthusiasm, motivation and good humour was still very evident, despite the tiredness. You are a fabulous group of people and our students are very lucky.
- Our incredible students, for taking everything from this year in your stride. We had our year 6 graduation dinner last week, and all students shared leaving speeches. Listening to what our leaving students had to say filled me with hope for the future - they are such incredible young people. I heard students reflect on their progress - “I am proud that I have rocketed in my reading”; think about how they have grown - “I now love reading...I am in love with the different worlds I can find on the pages”; and think about what they want to achieve - “I want to make the oceans cleaner”. They recognise that life can be tough, and they know that they will need to be resilient - “I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m going to keep trying”. I left at the end of the evening reassured that our world is in very capable hands with this future generation coming through.
- Finally, I would like to thank all the people who helped me through my first year as a principal. It has not always been the easiest years, and having such a capable and supportive team around me has kept me going. I’d particularly like to thank Demelza and Lisa for their strong support, friendship, and incredible hard work, and Lesley, for the ongoing coaching, mentoring and friendship that has helped me through the year. I would also like to thank John Bunting and the Board of Trustees, for supporting me, and the school, through the year.
Next year is an exciting prospect and one that I can’t wait to get started with. I am very much looking forward to working again with Lesley, Demelza and the team. In the meantime, I wish you all a very peaceful and relaxing holiday first. After such a tumultuous year, it is time for us all to have a restful holiday break. Stay safe, stay thankful, and we will see you all again next year.
Ngā mihi nui,
Urs Cunningham (Acting Principal)