Principal's Comment - 24 June

Dear Parents and Caregivers

As we move towards the end of this very unusual term, there is a good deal of tiredness in the school.  A principal from another school said to me that we are effectively in week 21 of Term 1, and that with the work both during lockdown and after, his school is full of drained people; both students and staff.  We can sympathise.  There has been a good deal of work having conversations with students to steady them in terms of what their immediate academic goals are, and what sequence of work will most reduce the anxiety that some are feeling about whether they can get on top of workload. 

The resumption of school sport has been a very welcome step in widening and restoring the patterns of school life. It’s important that we get Year 9 in particular to join in with sport, as they have missed much of the usual build up of chat around sports that encourages them to see activity outside the classroom as a significant and purposeful thing to be engaged in.  If students have missed out on getting involved, please go to the sports office and have a chat or talk to mentor teachers about what might be possible for next term.  We usually have somewhere around 950 to 1000 students playing regular inter-school sport.  That number is likely to drop this year, unless we “get” that for this year above others, sport’s physical activity and the pleasure of playing with mates old or new is an excellent balm for the disruptions we have experienced.  I’d also urge Year 13 students to consider that their final year at high school is very different from the usual, and a commitment to create social teams in sports is a way to set up new and enjoyable experiences for the second half of the year. 

A sense of active engagement is important in building optimism with respect to how this year travels.  One group who took control of an opportunity were the senior students who organised the Anti-Racism Event on Friday at lunchtime.  Their central argument was that protest is one thing, but a lasting and active commitment to take steps to fight racism was a more effective response to the current demands from the Black Lives Matter movement across the world.  The event began with Kapa Haka students, then speakers included both past and present students, while others contributed song.  This was a student-organised event which said that at HVHS we celebrate diversity but we can also do so much more if we are willing to be active, and that we needed to understand that our own society is far from perfect in respect to racism.  Safari Hynes, former head student, gave five key points in his speech:

 “1. If you haven't experienced racism use your privilege to free another person from it.

 2. Have difficult conversations with your whānau about racism.

 3. Amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and their experiences.

 4. Be anti-racist.  Every.  Single.  Day.  After all of the hype has gone.

 5. Educate yourself.  Black, Indigenous, People of Colour are not your resources to learn about racism.”

Students were challenged by their peers to recognise the privilege they enjoyed by virtue of their birthright as New Zealanders and rather than take that for granted, use their opportunity to work to build a society that truly works together to build a future New Zealand that challenges and unpacks institutional or personal racism and its effects.

In the wider school we are already well into initial planning for 2021.  Part of that is the enrolment process for current Year 8s looking to join us in Year 9.  At the time we were planning Open Evening, it was not possible to have large groups in the school, so the traditional model was not possible to run.  Instead, we have a virtual event, with material online to show people around the school.  We have been in touch with contributing schools and next term and possibly into Term 4, we will organise the chance for Year 8 students to come into school and tour the site.  Tours are more difficult for students who are not from our contributing schools but are moving into our zone.  At this stage we are not offering small group tours.  Our staff are exhausted, and we think it is not reasonable to add to their load just now, as they continue to have the one-on-one conversations with existing students to ensure they are okay.  We hope that families of prospective 2021 HVHS new students understand the unusual context that applies this term and our need to help existing students regain a sense of balance and purpose that looks forward to a successful Term 3 and 4 of 2020.


Ross Sinclair