by Mark Hamilton

An exciting year ahead at St Paul's

We have made a superb start in our 60th year as a school. We have a record roll, impressive external examination results, and quite a number of exciting challenges before us over the next twelve months.

Our roll is the highest it has been in the school’s history, with 744 students (up from 722 at this time last year). We have started with a Year 9 cohort of 116 students and 148 female students. Very pleasingly, we have secured small average class sizes at each of the year levels, with 19 in Year 9; 18.2 in Year 10; 15.3 in Year 11; 14.2 in Year 12 and an average of 14 students in Year 13 option classes.

In the most challenging of secondary school examinations, our senior students excelled, gained 46 subject Scholarships – our second best result ever. Three students were selected as Top Scholars – top 56 in the country, with Tony Wu the highest ranked, placed 11th. In NCEA Level 3, our pass rate at 89% was similar to previous years, as was the 54% who gained either a Merit or Excellence endorsement, but impressively our University Entrance (UE) pass rate rose to 82% in 2018. At Level 2, an encouraging 95% gained their national certificate, while at Level 1, it was slightly lower at 94%, but with 68% gained an endorsed certificate – our best ever result.

Over the December/January period our rowers, athletes, 1st XI and Colts cricket and musicians spent a considerable amount of time in competition and camps in preparation for the challenges of the new school year. Our elite athletes competing in the NZSS Track and Field championships in Dunedin in December gained nine top ten finishes, with Ben Strang (silver in the junior boys’ 300m hurdles) and Mattheus Pio (silver in the senior boys’ 200m and gold in the 300m hurdles) gaining podium finishes. Our combined St Paul’s-Dio Get-2-Go once again finished fourth in New Zealand, in the finals held at Great Barrier Island in December. Our Colts cricketers in the Vettori Shield tournament enjoyed victories over Hutt International Boys’ School and Wellington College, with our junior batsmen providing three centuries. While our 1st XI enjoyed a clean sweep of victories over St Peter’s School, St John’s College and Mount Albert Grammar School in the North Island Cricket Festival.

The special character highlight was the incredibly successful mission and outreach trip to Cambodia in December. Twenty-two of our seniors and four staff, once again spent a few weeks working in the slums of Phnom Penh. It proved to be a very confronting, but hugely rewarding experience working with a group of young children who come from highly deprived backgrounds. We are extremely appreciative of Mr Mathew Hewett’s leadership and coordination of this expedition and the crucial assistance provided by Mr Carl Neethling, Reverend Peter Rickman and Miss Stacey King.

The first month of the new school year has started extremely smoothly and productively; with the 60th anniversary of the school’s establishment marked by an overhead photo and the unveiling of a historical timeline in the sports centre (you can watch video of the ceremony here). The hosting of the highly successful athletics standards and championships; the Powhiri and welcome for new students and staff on the first day were other highlights over this period. There is an excellent feeling around the school and the student body have quickly settled into a productive, focused work pattern and have proved eager and enthusiastic for the challenges that 2019 poses for them.