Regulus Address // Issue 1 // May 2019
The College roll was full (the biggest ever in our history) resulting from a strong reputation, outstanding academic and co-curricular results, and a strong sense of community. NCEA and Scholarship results were the best ever with three students ranking amongst the top 50 in New Zealand, and Russell Boey named as a top 11 scholar. Amy Wells gained the top Agriculture Scholarship result in New Zealand, and an unprecedented number of St Andrew's College students in Years 11, 12 and 13 gained NCEA Excellence endorsements. The College campus looked pristine and ready for action with a functional and attractive new drop-off zone providing better access and traffic flow for parents, a smart new College shop, and grounds in outstanding condition.
At a time when teachers are in short supply, St Andrew’s welcomed 13 new teachers who were held in high regard from their previous positions, and who expressed gratitude and excitement at the opportunity to join our professional and committed staff. Our staff-only days drew upon the expertise of the Resilience Institute (Auckland) headed by Dr Sven Hansen. This complemented the College emphasis on well-being, and highlighted the importance of self-awareness and self-care in a world which demands increasing accountability and analysis of outputs.
Following our extensive stakeholder review at the beginning of 2019, we also launched our new strategic direction for St Andrew's, Framing our Future, which identified six strategic priorities with an overarching vision to be recognised and valued as a high performance organisation. Our optimism was high and we looked forward to another St Andrew's centenary celebration in March – this time for the iconic Pipe Band.
However, we couldn’t predict the unprecedented tragedy that would unfold during the afternoon of 15 March, with the horrific shootings at the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques. As we began to realise the horror and extent of death and injury from this event, there followed an outpouring of support and aroha for those who lost their lives, or had their lives irrevocably changed.
All around us we have seen examples of generosity, compassion, and strength in community. Young people have stood up and shown leadership, and previous strangers have sought solace and connection with each other. There have been many declarations of commitment to make our world a better place, to stamp out division, suspicion or hatred towards those who may be different to ourselves in faith, religion, culture, and language. Our St Andrew’s community has demonstrated compassion for those who are hurting the most, and support for those in our community who have cared for our young people amidst uncertainty. Our parents have been grateful for the care shown for the children at school during the four hour lockdown, our students have shown their love and empathy for those who are most affected by the attack by bringing flowers, writing heartfelt messages, and donating generously to the fund for the victims of the shooting. Senior students have joined with other student leaders to express their solidarity in making paper chain messages. Three St Andrew's students organised the Christchurch ‘March for Love’ and we have gathered together in moments of silence, reflection and prayer, determined that we will emerge from this tragedy as a better, more connected, more tolerant and loving people. One group of senior students wrote and produced a Song of Hope which has inspirational lyrics and reflects the thoughtful, mature response so typical of our students. In all these acts I have seen strength, compassion, and a deep humanity.
Our young people, presently in our schools, will have the greatest influence on the future. They are the ones we must encourage and teach to stand up for what is right in a world that is inclusive, embraces diversity, and rejects attitudes that give power and dominance to some groups over others. As we help to educate and guide them through the exploration of values and lessons from history, we must continue to challenge ourselves to set a good example. By supporting them to see hope and faith in their world, we can encourage them to build a better place for all.
I was inspired by the generous words of Farid Ahmed, at the memorial service in Christchurch on 29 March; words of a man suffering so much personal loss and yet so full of forgiveness. His comparison of Christchurch, the Garden City – whose beauty is made up of the different colours and varieties of individual flowers – and the richness and diversity of inclusive communities and nations, was a simple yet poignant one. Since the tragedy, we have seen an outpouring of collective sentiment, incredible courage, and selfless love, and now it is up to us all to be part of the change for good.
Kia mau ki te tūmanako,
te whakapono me te aroha
Hold fast to hope,
faith and love.