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Photo by Laura-Jean Peawini

Service at CGHS

Letitia Hill —

It has been an incredibly busy and successful year for service and volunteering within the school and the wider community.

It started off with a bang, with our newly formed CGHS Volunteer Army which was made up of over 110 students (the biggest it has ever been!), from all year levels, who were all passionate to give back to others in the community. We started by supporting the Christchurch Rotary Club with the running of the McDonald’s Duathlon in Hagley Park where over 20 CGHS students volunteered by packing goodie bags, marshalling, assisting with registration, helping kids transition onto their bikes, among many other tasks. The Christchurch City Rotary Club generously donated $1000 to our school charity for the year, Women’s Refuge, as a token of appreciation for our volunteering efforts - which was amazing to know we had supported two important causes! To finish the off term, many students assisted with the smooth running of junior parent-teacher interviews by helping set up, supporting staff, answering questions and providing directions for parents. Over the holiday break, groups of dedicated students were involved in Poppy day by collecting for the Papanui RSA around Christchurch. All of these opportunities created a great start to the year, with a particular focus on the wider community!

Term two was equally as busy and rewarding; several students from the CGHS Volunteer Army (together with some students from the charities committee) gave their time to collect for Aviva’s (formerly Christchurch Women’s Refuge) street appeal around Christchurch during the first week back at school. Term two also saw the first of many Eco-action community plantings take place for the year, of which many students and staff went along to support the wider community. Eco-action has a large focus on revitalising the red zone, bringing more wildlife into the city and offsetting climate change - which was an awesome way for our students to be part of environmental change. During term two, we had the pleasure of holding a service assembly where we were able to present numerous students with service awards for their volunteering contributions. Many of the students from the volunteer army also played a crucial role in the running of CGHS Open day in May; by greeting and providing directions for visitors on arrival, answering questions at help desks around the school, leading tours and supporting staff with other tasks. A group of students from the CGHS volunteer army came in on teacher only day to organise and set up a morning tea for staff. Similarly to term 1, several students also gave their time to assist with senior parent-teacher interviews to finish the term off!

Unfortunately, Covid-19 cancelled other events earlier in the year that our students were planning to volunteer for, such as Children’s Day, Sanitarium Weet-Bix Tryathlon and Daffodil Day, however, we did not let this hold us back from getting involved in as many opportunities as possible that followed! Due to the impacts of Covid-19, term three had a particular focus on personal volunteering and service, specifically through SVA (Student Volunteer Army) awards. The Student Volunteer Army was set up by Sam Johnston during the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2011; which has now expanded to become a nationwide organisation engaging students from primary school through university and other members of the community. Throughout lockdown, our CGHS Volunteer Army focused on how we could make a difference within our own households and local community whilst following restrictions, this involved activities, such as phoning an elderly family member, making dinner for our families etc, these hours were logged towards our SVA awards. Whilst we were unable to participate in large scale volunteering and service events, the SVA award programme meant many CGHS students continued to give back to the community nevertheless.

Overall, this year has been an exceptionally rewarding and successful year for service at Christchurch Girls’ High School. I would like to personally acknowledge the selflessness, inspiring desire to help others and motivation all students within the CGHS Volunteer Army have shown this year! The time and effort you have dedicated to helping others within our school and the wider community is valuable and you have all made a huge difference in the lives of others. The service culture at Girls’ High is certainly something we can all be proud of and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow in the years to come!