Principal's Comment - 23 November

Dear students, parents and caregivers and staff

We are in the middle of Year 9 camps - and like many outdoor education activities at this time of the year, my golf included, we have had to battle wind, rain and postponements.  Staff and students alike have shown just how resilient they really are. 

This time last year, I spoke about portable buildings being plonked on the school’s front lawn. I also wrote that by December 2020, we would be moving into our new W-Block Technology Suite.  Sadly this journey is far from finished, and has been stalled for most of 2020.  We will still be using the temporary buildings for at least another year.  The wheels of progress are moving ever so slow.  However, the first shovel of soil is due to be turned for W-Block this Monday.  We wait with baited breath!

Learning Conversations are scheduled for 8 December.  They are a lovely opportunity to celebrate the successes and acknowledge the things that students have achieved this year.  It has been a tough year full of uncertainty - and yet also optimism.  I hope you take the opportunity to meet your mentor teachers and make plans for 2021.  Booking details have been shared with families. Please call the office if you are uncertain what to do.

In the coming weeks we will be farewelling staff who are leaving us.  I would like to acknowledge a couple of staff who have given many many years of service to the school.  Grant Shearer has been with the Guidance Team for 15 years and is moving to a position at Paraparaumu College close to his home.  We are going to miss him a lot - he brings huge wisdom and a calming presence to our staffroom.  Karen Balshaw is retiring after 30 years at HVHS.  She is a teacher of Mathematics and a Dean.  There isn't much that Karen doesn’t know about this school - she is a wealth of knowledge.  We wish her a happy retirement and hope that the borders open soon so that she can begin her travels.

The Year 13 Graduation Prizegiving is at the Lower Hutt Events Centre on Wednesday 9 December.  We do hope that all Year 13s and their families will come to celebrate their final secondary school event.  This night is all about acknowledging and congratulating students for a successful 5 years at HVHS.  It is a special night, albeit a little sad and emotional as students realise that they will no longer have friends, staff, our support systems and facilities on tap. They will never have it so easy again but I hope they realise that we are always here to help if needed.  Our students are radiating out to all corners of New Zealand pursuing study, careers and gap years. 

Year 13 students - please sign up to our alumni network so that we can keep in touch with you, https://hutt-valley-high-school.webflow.io/past/join-our-alumni-database; or ‘like’ our alumni Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hvhs1926. 2026 is our 100th year and we are already thinking about the centenary celebrations. 

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 commenced on 11 November 2020, amending the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 and renaming it to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990.  From 11 November 2020, the existing prohibition on smoking at schools is extended to include vaping.  This means we must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no person vapes in any part of your school, whether inside or outside, at any time of day. 

I am very concerned about the rise in teenagers vaping.  If I really believed it did no harm and was just a teenage experiment - I’d not be so worried.  I read a quote that “Vaping is the great strawberry-scented hope – a satisfying substitute for cancer-causing tar and smoke”.  But the scientific community fluctuates between providing evidence that vaping does cause harm to the lungs and then evidence that it actually reduces harm when compared to smoking.  It is confusing for adults - and more confusing for teenagers.  But what I see out on the streets of Lower Hutt is previously non-smoking teenagers, vaping.  It's clearly a new and different trend.  What I worry about is that some non-smoking teenagers have moved from trialing a Strawberry juice vape once, to using juice with low levels of nicotine a few times a week, to vaping higher nicotine concentration juice numerous times a day.  So I am delighted at this new legislation - it will help our community to make it that much harder to start a smoking habit that we all thought teenagers had kicked to touch.

Ross Sinclair is battling a period of ill health at the moment, hence why you are hearing from me and seeing me lead prizegivings.  We wish Ross a speedy recovery and hope to have him back at the helm again soon. 

Denise Johnson, Acting Principal