On Wednesday we began lent with Ash Wednesday. It is a most important time of our liturgical calendar as we come together as a faith community to mark the beginning of Lent, leading up to the most heartfelt events of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the 40 days of Lent, a six-week period dedicated to prayer, fasting, and reflection in preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum. The late Henri Nouwen described Lent as a time to re-focus and to re-enter a place of truth. It is here where we find our true identity. Ash Wednesday is the best way to begin a season which calls us into self-examination as well as self-denial, into deeper contemplation about the mystery and grace of God's mercy, and towards more radical giving towards those most in need of comfort, sustenance, and hope.
On Monday at assembly, we celebrated the academic performance of our 2019 NCEA results. It was a wonderful celebration recognising the effort and commitment demonstrated by so many of our students. It was wonderful to celebrate the individual performance of students but also the whole student body as a cohor. We are very proud of these results as they have come about through lots of hard work from both students and staff together.
Recently, nationwide, there has been a lot of media based on declining attendance rates across the country. I am pleased to report St Thomas bucks these trends. Even though we have high attendance rates it is very worthwhile to understand the data when relating attendance and achievement. I have included a graph highlighting the correlation between attendance at Year 10 and achievement at Year 11. I explained to our students at assembly on Monday, the importance of looking after themselves by ensuring at least 8-10 hours sleep a night and also the importance of nutrition. These two factors play an important role in ensuring our students do, in fact, have a high attendance rate.
In this newsletter I have included as a new initiative some key messages we speak to our students about at assembly, they are included as a video clip.