Date: 12 November 2020
Tena koutou katoa
Malo e lelei
Fakaalofa lahi atu
Ni sa bula
Nau mai, haere mai. Welcome to our Senior Awards Ceremony for 2020.
Who would have thought that the year since our 2019 awards ceremony would have brought the change that it has. It would have seemed the stuff of science fiction, a world-wide pandemic that has impacted lives so much.
I know we have, and will continue to, face many different challenges. I want to thank everyone in our community for your continued goodwill and support of each other, through this really difficult time. This year has taught us that change is in our face and it is here to stay. It is our new normal. And together, we can do it. Year 13 students of 2020, you are doing it. You are leading the way in how to adapt and connect, and work together. From the first period of learning from home, you connected positively and creatively. All of the student councils – Academic, Arts, Community, Cultural, Hauora and Sports - created platforms for inclusive and proactive support of each other. Peer support leaders and other Year 13 students kept in touch and helped younger students, demonstrating the power of the tuakana-teina relationship. At school and from home, you have led constructively and positively. Your voices were, and are, inspirational.
The importance of kanohi ki te kanohi, of being together and learning together, was apparent this year. The joy when we were able to reconnect in person was evident – for us all.
We know that our wellbeing is fundamentally important. We know that routine is a great protective factor. And we know that kindness is universally important – being kind to ourselves and others. Thank you to Maya Edmunds, one of our Head Students, who so beautifully articulated this in a webinar hosted by Chief Education Scientific Advisor Stuart McNaughton in the middle of the year.
He waka eke noa. We are all in this together. And together, we are all learning and seeing leaders worldwide, learning and adapting too. Or not, in some cases. Our entire planet has an obvious and immediate need to keep on learning and adapting, and the benefits of being open to this and continuing to work together in the future, are clear.
A local example of this, is the inclusion of online classes in our Adult and Community Education programme. This has been very popular; with some of these classes continuing to be offered as part of our night class programme.
Access to digital learning opportunities is beneficial for everyone. The provision of devices for all our students this year, is exciting. Advantages include access to digital assessment, and learning wherever you are.
2020 has seen the first part of our rebuild begin. Late last year, we moved the prefabs on the hill to the back of the astro turf and then refurbished them to become Pāngarau, our Mathematics block. We refurbished C block to become Te Reo Pākehā, English. Shortly, we will begin complete refurbishment of the 5 prefabs on the hill. Construction of our new gym and the new block housing Art, Food and Hospitality, Science and Technology, will begin very soon. Our architects Ignite, project managers BECA, the Ministry of Education, and construction company Naylor Love are working really well together with us to deliver an amazing campus. We invite you to follow the redevelopment project on our website, we will shortly be able to put fly throughs on there which show the finished buildings. They are state of the art, and will match the quality of teaching and learning that goes on in our school.
I should like to acknowledge staff who are leaving us this year, and in particular Elaine Webb, our Services Academy Director. Elaine has been a valued member of our staff since 2008, and has held a number of leadership roles at school, as well as a national role with the Ministry of Education as Service Academies Programme Advisor, leading curriculum delivery and achievement opportunities across all Services Academies throughout New Zealand. Elaine leaves to take up the role of Deputy Principal at Green Bay High School. Please join with me in acknowledging and thanking Elaine for her huge contribution to Onehunga High School.
Thank you, to all whanau, teachers, friends, former students, former parents, and community supporters. Your support of and care for our students, matters. We value our partnership with you, and are very grateful to you.
As always, thank you to our students for your wonderful contribution. Work hard and continue to develop your gifts and talents. For the next few weeks, make the most of the external exam time to achieve as well as you are able; and please use the huge support at school and all around, including as you move to next steps.
Students I acknowledge, in particular, are all of our Year 13 students. You have had a unique year. You are the cohort to see the demolition of half of our school and the moving and restoration of Pāngarau in your final year. You are the cohort who learned how to learn and lead online, how to lead hauora across a school community, and how to manage your lives through a global pandemic. I want to acknowledge your extremely challenging year, including your disappointment and your generosity of spirit at not being able to have this year’s school ball. We look forward to sharing a very special leavers’ celebration after your externals. A sincere thank you to you all. You are inspirational young leaders.
We will plant the beautiful roses at the front of the stage, in our garden, in acknowledgement of you, Year 13 students of 2020. These roses are “Iceberg”. We chose them this year because they are exceptionally long flowering and very healthy. And they grow in (wait for it!) clusters. We love what these roses represent, now and going forward, including the imagery of kanohi ki te kanohi represented by these flowers being in groups. Please come back and check your roses in future! It is a privilege to acknowledge you all and to wish you joy and fulfillment in your lives ahead.
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