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Posted in General Principal's Address - Senior Awards Ceremony 2017

Date: 20 November 2017



Principal's Address - Senior Awards Ceremony 2017



Tena koutou katoa

This year, our students focused on the values of respect, integrity, loyalty and courage and we celebrated students who demonstrated these values. Typical comments from nominators of students include:

  • always honest
  • helps others without hesitation
  • a role model to all
  • inspires others to step out of their comfort zone through leading by example
  • always the one to step up and set an example
  • kind and humble
  • always does the right thing.

At the Senior Awards Ceremony we celebrated our students and their achievements and I want to begin by saying how proud I am that our students, are fine young people with moral purpose, who demonstrate respect, integrity, loyalty and courage in their everyday lives. This achievement underpins all others.

As always, there have been many reasons to celebrate this year:

  • In March our students participated in ASB Polyfest. For the first time, we entered seven groups: Maori, Cook Islands, Niuean, Samoan, Tongan, Chinese and Indian/Latino. Also for the first time,our senior students were assessed in NCEA Dance standards as part of Polyfest. All our students should be very proud; when he spoke on the Niue stage immediately following our performance, then Prime Minister, Right  Honourable Sir John Key said “and that was the best school in Auckland….”
  • This year, our students led three way conferences. This was a logical next step in our partnership with families, around each student. Students have led these meaningfully and well. Thank you all.
  • Our students revived the student council. Again thank you to everyone involved. Particular thanks for your latest project during the term break, designing and painting the fabulous murals in the toilet blocks.
  • Our Services Academy celebrated its tenth birthday.
  • Our Robotics teams have had a consistently successful year at regional competitions; at the October scrimmage, three of the four teams in the final were from Onehunga High. Year 10 student Rahul Bhati 10Ny is currently the top Robotics driver in the world.
  • Our dancers were again invited to perform at the Tempo Dance festival, the annual secondary schools’ showcase. Their performance “Memories” was breathtaking.
  • Construction School students and staff have built the first house to be sold on the open market. After Habitat for Humanity had to change up their business model, with land being so expensive, we needed to put ourselves out there. We are thrilled that our first house has been sold to a family as their first home.
  • Current student Sophia Wells 12Tg and former student Peta Pau’u were both selected as Youth Ambassadors to Belgium for the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
  • Pakeezah Suliman 13Gr and Eufemio Castro 13Ab  represented New Zealand at the International Secondary Schools’ Culinary Challenge in Taiwan, and were awarded silver medals.
  • Eleven students won medals and/or titles at the NZ Hospitality Championships.
  • One Story. One Movement was this year’s outstanding MOOVIT production,16 Music students and 50 Dance students, with former student Eugene Teulilo as the music producer.
  • The Onehunga High School Jazz Band was awarded gold at the Auckland Secondary School Jazz Band competition.
  • Again more students than ever before were awarded Onehunga High School Scholarships, which are awarded to students who have a grade point average of at least 95% over their top 80 credits. Previously, the highest total we have ever had is 20 students; this year we had 30!
  • In earlier years, the highest number of Year 13 OHS scholarships awarded was 4, way back in 1994; last year we awarded 8 at this level.
  • More of you than ever before, achieved NCEA certificates at each of the three levels.
  • More of you than ever before, were awarded endorsed certificates.

As for last year, more and more of you, year on year, are achieving at the highest levels, in many different pathways that are right for each of you.

I would like to acknowledge some staff and former students, too:

  • Professor Graeme Aitken has been an Onehunga High School student, teacher, parent and board member; and he and his family continue to be hugely supportive. Graeme retires from his role as Dean of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland this year. Graeme is an inspirational leader who has made a significant contribution to education nationally and internationally, especially through his ability to integrate theory and practice.
  • Succeeding Graeme is Associate Professor Mark Barrow. Mark is Associate Academic Dean in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland and like Graeme, he is a former student of Onehunga High School. Attending Onehunga High School holds people in good stead to be Dean of Education!
  • Earlier this year Mr Ernie Meyer was presented with the highest award that a Rotarian can receive; the Service Above Self Award. Ernie has served our community selflessly for many years, most recently through his work with many local trusts, and of course as the project manager for the build of every one of our five houses to date, with the sixth lined up for next year. All of Ernie’s service has been voluntary, and all of it, for the good of our community.
  • Linda Melrose, Director of Adult and Community Education, was awarded Tangata Tiriti Member of the Year at the Adult and Community Education Annual Awards in Wellington. This award recognises Lind’s huge Contribution to the sector nationally, over many years. You might be interested to know that our government funded Adult and Community Education programme is now the largest school based programme in the country.

It is important to acknowledge students and staff who are moving onto the next chapter in their life journey, and thank them for their contribution. Staff I acknowledge in particular, are Angie Wilson, Head of Food and Hospitality; Jono Smith, Deputy Principal; and Lorraine Jackson, Head of Careers. All of these staff members have held significant roles over many years, and have made a huge contribution to our school.

Students I acknowledge, in particular, are all of our Year 13 students. We have planted roses in the garden just outside the hall, in acknowledgement of you, Year 13 students of 2017; “Remember Me” in yellow, and “Fond Memories” in pink. Long term parents of our school shared their thoughts which express our choice; they said that their children felt sad to leave OHS, but that is a positive thing - it shows what a great experience they have had, one that they will always remember and cherish.

Please come back and check the roses are growing well in future! Thank you for the past five years and a special thank you for this year. You understand loyalty and courage and I know you will carry this motto with you into your futures. We celebrate your achievements and the achievements of all senior students.

Congratulations to all students who received awards at the awards ceremony, and to all students working to achieve your personal best. It is a privilege to acknowledge each of you and to wish you joy and fulfillment in your lives ahead.

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