It is my pleasure to welcome you all back, and also a very special welcome to our new parent/whānau community of our new Year 9’s, transferring Year 10 - 13 students, adult ESOL students. Equally, I would like to welcome our new staff, and introduce you to Ms Stacey Fry our new Associate Principal. Ms Fry comes to us from Motueka High School, after being there for ten and a half years, eight years as Deputy Principal, and the last two years in the role of Associate Principal and Principal. Ms Fry brings to us a wealth of experience, and a real desire to help lead and support our school community. I hope the holiday period has provided an opportunity for students to have a restful and enjoyable break.
The first edition of the PapaCommunity News for 2022 brings us, probably expectedly, a start to the year under the continuing cloud of Covid-19, and more specifically the Omicron variant. The Government has actioned their ‘traffic light’ system, and the school is operating within these parameters. We will continue to update you all with the relevant information as we receive it. We are also planning and preparing for what may be a fairly disruptive term, with particular reference to sickness and isolation for both staff and students. This also will include the ongoing need to support teaching and learning at school, from home and school, and if the situation evolved, from fully beyond the school gate.
For our new community members, we use the newsletter to give you up-to-date information on a weekly basis about the general happenings within the school. We will also use this forum to highlight recent student achievement, and significant up-coming events.
To start the ball rolling, last Tuesday we had our traditional pōwhiri ‘outside’. This is our way of formally welcoming all new students and staff to the school. Following this, we moved into our orientation programme, which is particularly important for transitioning our Year 9 students. I am very grateful to the Year 13 Peer Support leaders for their involvement in supporting the Year 9’s. The initial three day programme is about integrating the students into the school’s systems, culture, and expectations. The Peer Support programme continues on throughout the first term.
Wednesday and Thursday saw the remaining year levels return to school, briefly, to allow us the opportunity to welcome them back, and start the process of analysing our student numbers. Our returning numbers have been very good, particularly in the senior school, with a number of new in-zone students changing schools to attend Papanui High School, and also more current students deciding to stay at school and build on their success. This year our Year 9 cohort is approximately 360, our largest on record, and will contribute to our total school roll size being also at a record high!
Increases in our school numbers can also bring some challenges, including timetabling. The school timetable is based on maximizing subject choice on a majority “best fit” basis. Student numbers are particularly important because we need to assess class sizes and viability as we move to finalise students’ timetables. Over the following week, classes will need to be balanced, additional classes potentially added, and timetables adjusted as we work through this settling in process. We are working through this as quickly as possible, with the aim to minimalise disruption and change.
We all know, and understand, this is a very challenging time, and we as a school will continue to try and do our best to manage and navigate the path ahead. In saying that, on Friday it was great to see our full school back, students in class, and the process of learning for 2022 begin.
Ngā mihi nui