Principal’s Address 7th February 20207th Feb 2020
Kia Ora Tatou
Welcome to the first newsletter of a new decade. It has been a pleasure to see so many of our seniors returning to South Otago High School to continue their education in 2020. It was particularly pleasing to greet students during the course confirmation days at the end of last week and hear of their results. The rest of this week has been unexpectedly disrupted with the weather events in the lower South Island.
Unexpected weather events
Whilst normally I would be advising students to be sun smart at this time of year, we have had some unseasonal rain. On Tuesday this did cause busses to not run or depart early during the school day. We anticipated that there would be no buses on Wednesday but were prepared to open for those students who lived locally and able to get to school. Unfortunately after confirming that we would open we were advised by Civil Defence at 9:30 not to open which may have created some confusion.
We endeavour to keep families informed promptly of these types of events. One mechanism to do this is our e-text service. Sadly, new students to the school had not been added to the database so some families would not have received those text messages. This has now been resolved as of the end of Wednesday. If you are not sure if we have your cell phone number on our records please check during the conference day interviews.
On Monday morning we welcomed our new staff and students to South Otago High School with a Mihi Whakatau (an informal powhiri). During the last few years we have refined our ceremony and it was great to see all our new students participating and being welcomed into the school. In the past and in our start of year information this event had been listed as a Powhiri. Following our professional learning day, before students started, we have been advised that we should refer to it as a Mihi Whakatau and so this will be used in the future.
In this newsletter we are publishing a list of students who have achieved merit and excellence endorsements in NCEA Levels 1-3, senior students who have been awarded Vocational Pathway endorsements, Year 9 and 10 students who were awarded endorsements for the year of study in 2019. As you will see from the list there are a significant number of students who have achieved results of which they should be very proud. We take pride in celebrating this success with you and our wider community.
It is also worthy of note that our achievement rate in NCEA L1 increased significantly with increases also in L2 and L3.
We attribute this improved achievement to the feedback we have received from students where they have said that our mentoring programme helps them understand where they are at with their achievement and also the next steps in their learning. We have found that the involvement of family/ whanau to support student achievement to be critical. The conference events that we hold is part of this partnership and the live reports that support the communication is vital. We will be hosting our first round of conference interviews on Tuesday 3 March and the evening of Wednesday 4 March. Please mark this date in your diary so that you can be part of this partnership.
Back to school costs
I appreciate that a lot of families have worked hard to prepare students for the start of the school year. I have been impressed with the standard of uniform of all students and appreciate that this can be quite an expense following Christmas. This week the Ministy of Education shared the following information with schools and have asked it to be passed to parents:
Work and Income has made a number of key changes to simplify the process for parents paying for their children’s back to school costs. In many cases, these transactions can be approved via their contact centre service, which saves people having to come into their local office. The contact numbers are 0800 559 009 or 0800 552 002 for people receiving NZ Superannuation. Visit the Work and Income website for more information on back to school costs.
As you will no doubt be aware there is a virus which has started in Wuhan in China. Currently the school is following the advice of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. We are presently awaiting the arrival of our Mandarin Language Assistants who have spent the last two weeks in Christchurch where their health has been monitored.
Whilst I believe that we are managing the risks well I would ask family and whanau to demonstrate good hygiene practices. I have spoken to students about washing hands with soap and water before eating and drinking or after using the toilet. Also having a handkerchief or tissue and not to cough or sneeze over people, food or work areas.
I hope that through these precautions we can reduce the risk of infections spreading.
I am looking forward to a great year at South Otago High School. I encourage all students to participate in the life of the school and seek out new challenges. Should you have any questions I suggest that you contact your child’s mentor teacher first who should be able to assist you in the first instance.
Ka kite ano
Mr Mike Wright