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From the Rector

Regulus Address // Issue 3 // November 2023

More news for Rector

Term 4 is always an incredibly busy term, with celebrations, farewells for our leavers, academic examinations, the start of summer sports, Middle School and Ballet productions, and Prizegiving. Add to this annual reports, strategic review, staff performance reviews, and goal setting and recruitment of staff for next year and there do not seem enough hours in the day.

However, it is important to take time to reflect upon what we have collectively achieved, and to celebrate the many positives. A highlight for me in August was the opportunity to join the Pipe Band in Scotland at the World Pipe Band Championships. I never cease to be amazed at the focus and ability of our young people to perform in high stress situations. Their passion and dedication be it in sports, music, dance, academic study, or other personal pursuits is impressive. I am sure this develops strong character traits which set them up for future opportunities and challenges beyond school. The Pipe Band placed third in the world in the top Juvenile section which was a wonderful achievement.

While in Scotland, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of school principals. St Andrew’s College has a long standing connection to schools such as St Leonards (at St Andrews) the High School of Dundee, Gordonstoun School, Robert Gordon’s College, and Strathallan. These connections have been re-established following the travel restrictions over the last three years. It was great to reinstate the Robert Burns Scholars tour this year, with Megan Simpson and Jack Flanagan (both Year 12), visiting 11 schools across Scotland. There is no doubt spending time and making friends in other school communities has a profound impact on the development of our students and we look forward to reintroducing more student exchanges in the coming years.

Once again, at the end of this year we are farewelling our senior leavers – a group of 212 students from Year 13 and 12 from Year 12, who are confident, accomplished, thoughtful and compassionate with bright futures ahead of them.
As our leavers say their goodbyes and thank yous, they impress when they show genuine gratitude for what their school teachers and parents have provided for them.

During their time at St Andrew’s they have learnt many important life lessons. One that I believe will stand them in good stead is the ability to make the right choices and decisions in often complex situations, choices which support the collective good and each other in challenging times.

After the recent election, it will be interesting to see what new policies and initiatives will impact education in the coming years. There is no doubt that some serious consideration needs to be given to improve our children’s proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and supporting the large numbers of students increasingly disengaged from their schooling. We are grateful that at St Andrew’s we are able to make choices, decisions, and provide resources that keep our students motivated and engaged. In a school environment we make multiple decisions every day. The role of staff is to make good decisions which will enrich student’s experiences, keep them safe, and help them to achieve their full potential. Students will not like all the decisions which staff make but leadership of a school, or indeed a country, is not based upon what is popular but what is right. This is true for students as well as for adults in leadership roles. One of the challenges is to consider the roles, perspectives of others, the greater good and whether the decision aligns with our personal and school’s collective values.

The impact of social media and the power of algorithms to create our own echo chambers, sometimes makes it difficult to seek or recognise perspectives which are different from our own. As our students leave their school environment we want them to feel confident to seek and engage with others who may have a different point of view. This seems to be critical to future global stability and understanding.

The emergence of a peaceful and sustainable future will require co‑operation, collaboration, and solidarity as we grapple with the effects of climate change, the economy, technology, and geopolitical concerns. Our education goals must include individual and collective well-being, as we equip young people to make decisions which will support a peaceful and sustainable future for them and their children. I have no doubt St Andrew’s graduates will be leading the way to build this future.

Included in this edition of Regulus are the many stories of student successes, College initiatives, staff contributions, and a wide variety of opportunities. Some recent highlights were the outstanding success of the Girls' Senior A basketball team coming second in New Zealand at the Secondary Schools National Finals in the September break. Also outstanding was the selection of Lauren Whittaker (Year 13) for the national Tall Ferns basketball extended squad. A third phenomenal success in November was Sebastian May (Year 13) winning the New Zealand Men's Amateur Golf Championship, outstanding!

Best wishes to all for the end of 2023 and a blessed Christmas season.

Christine Leighton

The Rector's Address from the third edition of Regulus for 2023.