From the Principal

By Mr Simon Coleman | Posted: Friday October 26, 2018

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa,

I do hope that you have all had a restful break and your son or daughter is ready for the importance of the last term. It is as I mention every year, a time for seniors to put total focus on their subjects and finishing the year to their potential. It is not a sensible idea to decide to not sit exams or finish internals just because they have gained enough credits for an NCEA passing grade.

What does that do to help them for their future? What traits are they setting themselves by doing this? Would an employer want someone to just do an average job or a great job?

I struggle to understand why some students choose to not strive to get the best grade possible in every area they study, after all for many, they have chosen to do the subject because they enjoy it or have great ability at it.

My hope is that you, our parents, will guide our students well in making good decisions about the assessments they have over the remaining weeks and that the school exams held last week reflected the determination that they have to achieve to their very best.

China Conference

I was fortunate to be invited to the K-12 International Educators Conference in Shijiazhuang City in the Hebei region of Northern China over the break and the first week of this term.

This is a conference that has occurred for the last 5 years where Shijiazhuang Education High School hosts Principals from around the globe along with Chinese Principals and each year they have a focus topic.

This year it was on Physical and Health Education and was split into the ‘Physical Education and Healthy Lifestyle’ and ‘Psychology of Physical Education’. We had 42 Principals from the USA, Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Costa Rica, Canada, Australia, Spain, Italy and New Zealand. I was the only representative from NZ. There were also 200 Chinese Principals present over the 4 days.

I had the opportunity to present to the conference on Outdoor Education and the personal growth it gives to our students involved in these courses. We are unique in the world with what we offer here and many attendees particularly the principals of other countries, were interested in talking to me about our school and courses.

Reflecting on my visit to China, I want to share my thoughts on the educational value our students receive particularly at Geraldine High School compared to the education in China, the largest population for a single country in the world.

- Shijiazhuang Education High School where our conference was held has over 20,000 students from Year 1 to Yr 12 which is on a huge scale compared to ourselves. It is so big that the Principal does not know all her staff by name and teaching staff only know students in the classes they teach.

It is such a strength of our school that we know each other and are able to have supportive relationships that enhance the culture of our school.

- The sheer magnitude of the cities and school means that students and people are just a number and community support is limited.

We are very fortunate to have a community, teachers, students and families that care for one another so that we can make the best decisions for our young people that is particular to their needs.

- Classes run from 7am to 9pm for the senior students and includes Saturday as due to the huge numbers of students across China, it is very competitive for places at universities and high paying jobs.

We have endless opportunities for our students with the only limiting factor being themselves in aiming for these.

- For many students, their education is limited due to poverty or accessibility with many leaving school at a young age for often low paying jobs.

We live in a society where there are jobs and the opportunities to grow in these and gain greater skills and promotion.

- Many students and teachers have never left their city or province and are very likely to not go any further due to both access, cost and not understanding what is beyond their current situation.

For New Zealanders, we are lucky to have the ability to travel easily within our own country but also to seek out what lies beyond in the world. We tend to be people that want to know more and our circumstances allow this.

- The many students I spoke to are very thankful for any opportunities they receive.

Probably an area we don’t fully appreciate until we see what others in the world don’t have compared to ourselves.

We are so fortunate that the country and community we live in is safe, rewarding and full of opportunities that so many students in the world have no access to. This was a constant aspect that I saw every day I was in China.

Arts and Sports Awards

At the end of last term, we had our inaugural Arts and Sports Awards. It is nice to be able to have the time and respect for these achievements recognized with this special night. It was well attended and wonderful to hear what has been achieved from our students this year. It was a pleasure to have ex-pupil, Zoe Scott, perform and speak so honestly about her musical journey since finishing school.

Of particular note was the NZ representative status achieved this year by Bailey Booth [Rodeo] and Tom and Matt Harding [Orienteering] that have required much dedication over the year. I acknowledge Miss Cate Knowles, who was responsible for the organisation and success of this event.

I would like to invite all students and parents to attend our Senior Prize Giving on Wednesday 31st October. This, like our Academic Blues and Arts and Sports Awards, are the premier events in our school year which recognise and celebrate the achievements of our students in the academic field.

I always look forward to this event as we get to see and hear about the students in Year 11, 12 and 13 who have been committed to achieving to the highest levels in our curriculum areas. It is also the long-awaited announcement of both our Head Students, the Dux and Proxime Accessit which are our premier awards.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the range of events this term from the Yearr 10 Challenge evening to activities and camps. Please ensure that you see the dates of all of these events at the start of this newsletter.