Last year was full of many highlights. As a school, we introduced a new age-specific Hauora or Wellbeing programme on Wednesdays. Using the symbolism of growing acorns (teenagers) into strong Oaks (men and women of good character), the vision of the Hauora programme is to grow resilient and thoughtful people of great character, who have an understanding of how this can be fostered and supported through wellbeing.
In the Headmaster’s address at last year's prizegiving, I talked about the key role that St Paul’s (and families) play in providing young people with a backpack that has the tools that are essential to achieve satisfaction later in life. The pace of change and the complexity of issues facing society today, has meant that many of the issues that traditionally before would have been covered in the home, schools now have a responsibility in raising young people’s awareness of (i.e. digital citizenship, the challenges of pornography, an understanding of sexual consent, management of depression through a recognition of gratitude, etc). The Hauora programme also explicitly gives our students (and equips their backpack) with an understanding of what good character traits such as courage, honesty, resilience, getting along with others, emotional intelligence and Whanaungatanga, actually look like in society today.
Our student’s involvement in servant leadership and ‘Over-the-Fence’ activities such as assisting in low decile neighbouring schools such as Bankwood and Fairfield Primary, St Joan’s Rest Home, the Refugee Orientation Centre, feeding the homeless on Saturday nights with the ‘Serve’ charity group, etc hopefully give our students some sort of perspective on the challenges that they may face in life. When they are feeling that they are ‘hard done by’, that they can recognise that there are many others within our community and in the world that have it a lot tougher.
2019 held many other highlights: the extremely successful 60th reunion (Hamilton campus) and 40th reunion(Tihoi Venture School) celebrations; the completion of the Tihoi classroom redevelopment; the Year 13 Construction class building a four-bedroom nurse’s residence; the replacement of the surface for the school’s hockey turf; along with the removal of the use of mobile phones by our junior students, and a huge number of individual and collective sporting and cultural successes. But in many respects, all of these things pale into insignificance to the school’s key role in fostering well-balanced, anchored, and down-to-earth citizens, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and people of character. As Charles Dicken’s said, “Reflect upon your present blessing … of which every man (and woman) has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men (and women) have some.”
So before we get wrapped up in the hurley-burley of 2020, let’s take some time out to reflect on our ten highlights from 2019 – our accomplishments and best memories. Our five disappointments, failures or missed opportunities. The three game-changers from last year that changed our priorities. Let us recount the good and the bad of the past year and learn from the experience.
Hoping that 2020 will bring with it huge promise for all of us.