Hero photograph
Photo by Ms A Togneri


Ms Togneri —

“This is not a letter but my arms around you for a brief moment” (Katherine Mansfield to a friend)

The English staff of 2019, Ms I. Bercinskas, Ms C. Bowden, Mr G. Corbishley, Mr J. Hayden, Mrs E. Murdoch and Ms A.Togneri continued to foster in all students, a love of language and literature and a deepening understanding of the human condition that comes from following an English course.

The end of Term Three saw the appointment of Mrs E. Harris to the role of Assistant Principal. Emma and her family have relocated to Dunedin from Auckland where Emma was Head of IB English at Kristin School. Her son, Cohen, is in the Junior School and daughter Pearl is in Year 7. Emma is a published poet and a well-connected writer who brings energy, enthusiasm and ideas for how to further develop the craft of writing in our students at Columba College. We are excited that Emma will be joining us in the English Department from 2020 teaching two classes.

We were immensely pleased with the NCEA results our students gained at the end of 2018 and in particular warmly congratulate the three students who gained English Scholarship: Erin Dailey (Year 13), Sasha Meyer (Year 13) and Victoria Williamson (Year 12). In the Scholarship examination students use metacognitive skills of interpretation, synthesis and evaluation. These are skills which grow from the time children begin to read and are actively taught in English classrooms by applying them to more demanding topics, questions and texts.

Dunedin’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature drew high calibre authors to the Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival. John Boyne and Markus Zusak inspired our readers and writers and we took Year 13 English students to Lizzie Marvelly, author of ‘That F Word: Growing Up Feminist in Aotearoa’ where they were engaged and stimulated to become even more thinking participants in the world around them.

Debating culture at Columba College continues to prosper. The highlight of the year was having two speakers named on the Regional Team who travelled to Wellington to compete nationally. They were Abby Bowmar (Year 12) and Isobel Fraser (Year 12).

The standard of public speaking at Columba College remains high and the confidence, flair and poise with which our students speak never ceases to impress. We warmly congratulate our Speech Competition winners:

Year 9 Sophia Hessian

Year 10 Grace Johnston

Year 11 Penelope Hare

Year 12 Anna Werner

Year 13 Sophie Strathern and Sara Hashemi Oskoei

Grace Johnston went on to win the Otago Secondary Schools Junior Speech Competition.

Congratulations must also be extended to our writers, poets and spellers. The Otago Daily Times Extra! Spelling Quiz was won by three Year 9 students: Aliya Drake, Poppy Henderson and Emma Kinney. Caitlin O’Brien (Year 11) won the Dunedin Secondary Schools Poetry Competition Senior Division with her poem ‘Body Bags on the Beach’. Our celebration of National Poetry Day this year saw a Slam Poetry Competition animate our library with Sacha McConnon (Year 12) gaining first place, Millie O’Neill (Year 11), second, and third place going to Tessa Smith (Year 8). The Dawn Ibbotson Essay Competition place getters were Victoria Williamson (Year 13) who came second and Audrey Hayes (Year 13) who came third.

2020 will see the first level of NCEA Drama being offered at Columba College for some years and we are fostering the growth of this exciting and complementary subject.

FInally, congratulations to Isobel Fraser who gained the top award for Year 12 ICAS English in New Zealand. She scored 99 out of 100. This fabulous accomplishment saw her invited to Auckland in December to be awarded her medal.

Ms A. Togneri

HOD English