As we resume school in term three, there is opportunity to reflect on how disrupted and draining the start of the year has been. Covid news from overseas makes clear how fortunate we are to be living in New Zealand, but we do need to remain active and committed to ensure we don’t see community transmission of disease. This means continuing to observe core hygiene practices around the washing of hands, containing coughs and sneezes and remaining at home if we are unwell.
Pathways staff have noted high levels of Year 13 student anxiety about their prospects for next year in terms of employment, apprenticeships and tertiary vocational education. Staff propose to run an information evening starting at 5.30 pm on Wednesday 9 September, inviting employers to speak with students in one-on-one chats about their areas’ opportunities. That evening will be followed up with lunchtime workshops tailored to students’ needs. Pathways staff will be in touch with Year 13 students to gauge the interest in such an event so they can plan it to be as effective as possible.
Our student leaders are also actively organising events to promote causes and to have some fun in the process. In week three Culture Week will have lunchtime activities, including a feature lunchtime concert where the aim is to highlight and celebrate the diversity within our school.
Student leaders are also organising our third Mental Health March set for Thursday 27 August 27 (week six). The march will leave the HVHS grounds at 1.00 pm and walk a 9-10 km loop on the Te Awakairangi river trail. Students and accompanying staff will leave the back field, head up to Kennedy Good Bridge, cross to the motorway side of the walkway and return to school. It will take two hours if walking slowly and steadily. The average runner can run this distance in 50 minutes but the plan is to walk at a pace that allows all participants to soak up the atmosphere and environment! The march is aimed at Year 12 and 13, and student leaders hope to see good numbers taking part. The aim is to promote the importance of wellbeing and particularly mental health, while signalling that there is a great deal of positive support available within our community for all of us. A widely supportive community means seeking help is validated and encouraged, and that’s in everyone’s best interests.
On a related topic, I want to mention school sport. Beyond its physical benefits, sports participation is all about hau ora - wider wellbeing - and especially the opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills. We have some students who are yet to sign up for sport and we want to encourage them to speak to Sports Department staff and explore what activities they might get involved in, so they can work within patterns of regular commitment to something larger than themselves.
That sense of joining something large features in the minds of our 2021 Year 9 enrolment students. While we lost our Open Evening last term because it would have breached Covid rules, we are about to redress that by hosting parties of Year 8 students for tours of the school during the day when classes are running. This should help to start the Year 8s’ transition positively as they move towards joining us. Once again we are experiencing strong demand for places in the school and while that is good for us as a school, it’s hard on families who miss out. We hope we can continue to accept out of zone siblings at Year 9 but are unlikely to go beyond that level due to the numbers involved. I have already signalled to the Ministry of Education that we face rooming challenges in 2023 and beyond if our projections from existing enrolments are fulfilled. As Petone becomes subject to more in-fill housing and residential developments, it looks like there will be continuing pressure on our roll in the future. For in-zone enrolments, while these can be made at any time, early completion offers the best chance of gaining the options a student wants to elect for 2021. We will continue to try to fit the school to the student, but there are likely to be practical constraints next year as we deal with a substantial drop in all-school income through reduced donations and fewer opportunities for generating funds beyond core government allocations. We are very grateful to our community for the continuing support during what is a very unusual time.