Principal's Comment - 21 October

Dear Parents and Caregivers

Term Four, for us, begins with the derived grade examinations for seniors, while Year 10s have leadership and values work with Ignite Sport and meanwhile we organise the year 9 camps.  For those yet to enter the school, there are 350+ interviews of Year 8 students and their caregivers as we find out a little about our incoming year groups’ strengths, passions and plans.  As ever, it’s a busy term.

Over the break I’ve been spending time working through the current progress of our 1000 or so NCEA students, comparing their data for the time of year with that of their predecessors in 2019.  Broadly, those interim results are positive.  As ever, it is the extent to which students “kick on” in the externals that will drive our success levels.  There was a time when these school examinations were known popularly as “mock exams” but they are not that.  They are the source of data for any derived grade application made by students who have suffered illness, accident or extreme circumstance sufficient to have made the possibility of sitting end of year NCEA exams unrealistic or impossible.  This year, with Lockdown possibilities lurking in the background, the school exams are all the more important.

I do need to repeat Covid messages, even though there is a level of fatigue appearing in our country.  We remain in Level One (not Level none), but core protection practices appear to be slipping.  Good hygiene steps remain crucial in protecting all of us from infection, we continue to need to use the tracer apps or their paper equivalent, and we need to remain home if we have symptoms of colds and the like.  Those steps protect us all, and the recent instances of Covid in New Zealand remind us that this remains a real and potent threat to our wellbeing, so we all need to do our bit to keep ourselves safe.

Last week we extended those safety messages with material covered in Mentor Time practising the drop, cover, hold steps for strong earthquakes, and going over the tsunami plans for the school.  Students were asked to go home and discuss their family’s earthquake/tsunami plans so that everyone is clear about what to do.  For our family, those plans include a friends’ house to head to if ours is damaged or risky, a reunification site if neither our home nor our friends’ is available, reminders of where our emergency water supply is and how to use it, reminders of the first aid supplies and where they are.  We also have an emergency cash supply, for a major event will knock out power for several days and with it our ability to use digital systems for payment.  Then there are the “next steps” conversations: who is checking on grandma and when?  If roads are impassable what route are we using to get home?  What do you do if a powerline has come down across the path or road you are on?  What route avoids bridges and tunnels that might have been weakened?  We also add basic “Wellington area” mind-set training.  Look around you.  If there is a major quake, you have ten minutes before a tsunami arrives.  Where are you going to go in order  to be safer?  That thinking we try to impress on all our family, so that in a real event decisions are immediate, and time is not wasted wondering what to do next.

That’s quite a lot of health and safety material in one newsletter, but these are important matters that we all need to think through so that in an extreme event we are as prepared as possible to take the steps that protect us and our families.  If families haven’t had those conversations recently then maybe it’s time for a refresh.  If there have never been such conversations, now is a good day to start. 

Ross Sinclair