On Strowan – Volume 13 // Issue 7 // 20 September 2018
...(young women) learn here at the College to hold their place amongst young men, make good strong choices that protect their right to be respected and valued, and form meaningful and equal relationships, where diversity is seen as a strength.
Christine Leighton, Rector
This term has been another one packed with events and student achievements, as documented each week in Rector’s Comment.
Sometimes I wonder how we can sustain the demands and energy required of students and staff… the term breaks are certainly a welcoming and necessary time to catch up on family and personal time. Our well-being initiatives at St Andrew’s College are another aspect of our school-wide strategy to support students and staff to pay attention to all aspects of our lives, and to make time to balance the multiple demands and expectations. The recent focus on VIA character strengths has been an important part of this, as explained in a recent blog by Head of Well-Being, Ms Kerry Larby. Click here to read.
During the second half of this term I made time to host the girls’ Year 10 Te Waka groups in my study. It has been a great opportunity to speak to small focus groups about some of the issues and pressures facing our young people. This week we have discussed the incredible courage, persistence and fortitude shown by the women in 1893 who, led by Christchurch Suffragette Kate Sheppard, successfully petitioned parliament to win the right for women to vote. The girls engaged in animated conversation around the responsibility of young women today to protect these hard-fought conditions and the need to value the opportunities available to them regarding education, careers, and how they can contribute to their communities.
Last week I had the privilege to attend the 125th Suffrage anniversary celebration in Christchurch along with 18 students from Years 8, 11 and 13. The special guest speaker was our Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, who spoke of Cantabrian suffragettes Christina Henderson and Kate Sheppard and their belief that women had the right to vote and pay equality. “They were ordinary women, but each was extraordinary in their own way.”
Some of our girls have shared their reflections with me on their experience, and how our Prime Minister’s inspirational words affected them;
“In spite of self-doubt, we need to act on our beliefs and what we know is right”.
“That everyone’s leadership qualities are different. It is important to play to your strengths and hold fast to your morals and values”.
“You can lead with grace and decisions should be driven by hope not fear”.
“That feminism is still an important concept for women moving forward, anyone who believes in equal pay is a feminist”.
It is true that much work remains to address issues such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, equal pay for equal work and female representation around the board table. A good start for our girls at St Andrew’s is that as young women educated in a co-ed school, they learn here at the College to hold their place amongst young men, make good strong choices that protect their right to be respected and valued, and form meaningful and equal relationships, where diversity is seen as a strength.
St Andrew’s is full of wonderful young men and women who are role modelling good choices. As they grow through their years here they continue to learn to appreciate and respect each other, value different viewpoints and break down gender stereotypes.
Our experiences offered at St Andrew’s be it in productions, cultural activities, mixed sports teams, Castle Hill camps, debating, business studies teams, or classroom groups, I believe give them just the experience they need to bring out the best in each other. It is good to be amongst them!
Ngā mihi nui,