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Stories from the lockdown

 

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The nationwide lockdown at the start of March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, caused great uncertainty. When St Andrew’s College closed a week before the Term 1 holidays, there was no telling when ‘normal’ school life would resume. Rector Christine Leighton says the ‘truly collaborative culture’ at the College, and the shared vision and hard work of senior managers and staff, ensured an almost seamless transition to a sophisticated online learning environment. Throughout the lockdown and immediately after it was lifted, the adaptability, resilience, and creativity of St Andrew’s College staff and students was highly evident, with a range of initiatives introduced to enhance student learning, support their physical and mental well-being, and to keep the St Andrew’s family connected. Following are a few of the highlights from this unprecedented time in the history of the College.

Helping staff to upskill

Teaching staff had been preparing for the eventuality of the lockdown for many weeks before it finally happened, by planning the delivery of their lessons online, and learning how to engage effectively with the new online environment. Director of ICT, Dave Hart, the ICT team, and Head of Information and Innovation, Wilj Dekkers, did an outstanding job of implementing the technology, and encouraging and enabling the teaching staff to upskill. During the Term 1 holidays and throughout the lockdown, Wilj continued to be incredibly busy, providing professional development to the staff by running live training sessions over Microsoft Teams, which helped them to develop their toolset for delivering lessons remotely, and learn best practice for running live lessons and increasing student interaction. He provided further professional development to staff as they made the transition back to Alert Level 2.

 

Heads of College initiatives

Heads of College, Emily Tyrrell, Hugh Montgomery, Aleisha Davis and Omri Kepes, introduced some fun and entertaining initiatives to keep the student body connected and engaged during the lockdown. Their highly anticipated weekly newsletter, HeadsUp, was shared every Wednesday with students and continued on once school returned. The newsletter included fun challenges, uplifting student-made videos, competitions (including best trick shots, a dance-off and facial hair growing), student reflections, and more. The Heads of College wanted to create correspondence, which was from students to students, to maintain strong peer connections, even while in isolation. The Heads also launched a student Instagram page, on which the Well-being Committee shared a lovely initiative #istayhomefor. Students were encouraged to think about the reasons why they stayed at home, with many thoughtful posts shared on the page. The Heads of College also joined head students from Christchurch secondary schools to put together a thank you video to show their appreciation to essential workers during the lockdown.

 

Chaplaincy online

With the country in lockdown, and her husband, College Chaplain, Rev. Paul Morrow on sabbatical, Jo Morrow, Religious Education teacher and Manager of Thompson House, pushed herself outside her comfort zone to record video messages as part of the Chaplaincy Online initiative, introduced so the Chaplaincy team could continue to present comforting and inspirational messages to the St Andrew’s College community. “I’m not a fan of being
on camera, so it was a big hurdle to overcome before I felt comfortable. The recordings were rather simplistic and consisted of finding a location in the College grounds where I live, and using my laptop to record the pictures and sound.” Each Thursday during the lockdown, Jo’s video message, a podcast featuring Head Students, Hugh Montgomery and Emily Tyrrell interviewing different members of the St Andrew’s community, a music piece, and a written reflection, drawn from a variety of sources and inspiration, were released. “Hugh and Emily had great enthusiasm for the podcast, which they recorded on Sunday afternoons,” says Jo. The videos were edited by David Jensen in the Media Department and were published on the College website along with the rest of the Chaplaincy Online material by Bridget McMaster of the Communications Department, who shared links to it through social media.The initiative was so well received that the Chaplaincy team plans to continue to gather material and work with the Media and Communications Departments to present Chaplaincy Online once a term. “We have identified this is a great way to connect with our wider community, including Old Collegians. We will continue to draw on the themes relevant to who we are as a College community with our Christian heritage and proud history. Including
a wider voice, and seeking views from students, staff, and Old Collegians, which reflect our College values of Truth, Faith, Excellence, Inclusivity and Creativity, is another priority.”

 

ANZAC Day service

As it was not possible to gather in the Centennial Chapel for the ANZAC Service 2020, a special and heartfelt
online service was recorded and shared with the wider St Andrew’s College community instead. Rector Christine Leighton, and Rev. Paul Morrow opened the Service, and were followed by Year 13 student Imogen McNeill, who shared her reflections about ANZAC Day, the importance of freedom, and remembering those who served.
The Roll of Honour, remembering those Old Collegians who lost their lives in service to their country, was read
by Rector Christine Leighton and Jonathan Wells, President of Old Collegians Association, which was followed by the Last Post and Reveille, played by Lucca Ballara (Year 12). The Pipe Band members paid their respects by performing at two different times on ANZAC Day, a dawn performance at 6.00am, and at 11.00am, when they played Amazing Grace in their respective bubbles, at the same time as pipers and drummers from all over New Zealand.

 

Well-being blog

Head of Well-being, Kerry Larby, continued to write her popular Well-being blogs during the lockdown, which kept members of the St Andrew’s College community connected, and suggested helpful practices and skills to enable positive and proactive response to these challenging times. Rector Christine Leighton says Kerry’s leadership in Well-being over the last four years has had a profound impact on St Andrew’s College. “I recommend that everyone familiarises themselves with the more than 30 blog posts Kerry has written over time, with give an insight into the many initiatives introduced into our Well-being programme over the years.”

When St Andrew’s College closed a week before the Term 1 holidays, there was no telling when ‘normal’ school life would resume. Rector Christine Leighton says the ‘truly collaborative culture’ at the College, and the shared vision and hard work of senior managers and staff, ensured an almost seamless transition to a sophisticated online learning environment.

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