On Strowan – Volume 14 // Issue 3 // 4 April 2019
The Secondary School covers Years 9–13. Head of Secondary School is Evert van Florenstein.
I have been so impressed by the way in which our students have responded to the challenges and adversity they have faced in the last few weeks. The outpouring of love and support from our students and our community gives me great hope for our future. We are also conscious of the huge impact recent events have placed on the students to get their work done on time and to the best of their ability. I hope that students have negotiated with their teachers for extensions when they have needed one.
The College Founders’ Day celebrated on Friday 15 March was once again a very special occasion. The traditional Founders’ Day Assembly address was given by Old Collegian, Mr Ben Murray (2006–2013), who gave a well-received speech on the state of our well-being as a society, and the importance of community in ensuring that we stay connected. Mr Rob (Shorty) Bruce-Barron (1950–1952) also attended Founders’ Day to again witness and celebrate first-hand the College’s special relationship with Scotland. Congratulations to Year 12 students Omri Keeps and Emily Tyrrell who are this year’s recipients of the Robert Burns Scottish Scholarship. To further celebrate this event, Iona Taylor sang a beautiful rendition of Ye Banks and Braes O’ Bonnie Doon a traditional folk song based on the poem written by Robbie Burns in 1783. This song is about a young woman singing of her lost love by the River Doon in Ayrshire, Scotland, an area Robbie Burns loved as a young man. After this Omri and Emily read out a poem that was specially written for this occasion by our Writer-in-residence, Kerrin Davidson.
The afternoon’s Highland Games started in a very loud and energetic manner with the House chants. Unfortunately, towards the end of these chants the siren went for the lockdown. I informed the students immediately that they were to go to their tutor classes and stay low. I have never seen nearly a thousand students scatter so quickly and go where they were supposed to be. I am truly thankful that we reviewed the lockdown procedures followed by a practice earlier in the year, clearly the students and staff knew what was required of them. My thanks go to all the students and staff for their incredibly calm and assured way they conducted themselves throughout the lockdown.
Please be assured that we have conducted a full review of our lockdown procedures using our recent experience.
Due to the terror attack, only the all girls’ assembly ran. Our guest speaker for the boys’ assembly, Corrie Parnell, who is the District Manager for Criminal Investigations for the Canterbury District Police, was tied up with the aftermath of the terror attack. Vanessa Wells gave the address at the girls’ assembly. Vanessa’s key message was that humans are hard wired to tell stories and that creativity is an important process in any field, whether that be the Arts or STEM subjects. In an industry where women are under-represented, she challenged our Year 8–13 girls to find their own voice and understand that everyone has a unique lens through which they can tell their own story. Each girl received a card with the message ‘StAC Girls Can Be Creative’.
I had the privilege of attending three different venues around the country for the Summer Tournament Week. In Christchurch, I saw the Boys’ and Mixed tennis teams gain fifth and fourth place nationally. Considering how young both teams are, the future looks very bright indeed for tennis. In Palmerston North I saw the Girls’ Senior A volleyball team gain their best result with fourth place in the country. In Karapiro we had 34 rowers, supported by their families, compete in Maadi Cup. The rowers achieved 13 A finals and eight B finals, the best we had ever done.
In the finals, our crews gained two bronze and six fourth places. Congratulations to all our teams that competed in Tournament Week for the huge effort and commitment that was required to achieve the wonderful results we will celebrate at Friday’s formal assembly.
This has been a very busy and challenging term and I know that staff and students alike are looking forward to the holiday break.
With kind regards,
Evert van Florenstein
Head of Secondary School
Deputy for Rector