The end of the school year is a time of celebration, and late last week our community came together for our junior and senior prize-givings and Carols on the Quad.
In the week leading up to these events, boys in Years 9 and 10 enjoyed six days of activities outside the classroom – with Year 9 students on camp and participating in outdoor education, and Year 10 students involved in community service projects in a range of settings, coordinated by Volunteering Canterbury and Assistant Principal – Community Engagement & Special Projects Neil Porter. Neil has also been busy preparing for the second Sony Camp at College from Saturday 7–Monday 9 December, which provides a unique respite programme for children with special needs. The children – aka the campers – stay on campus, cared for by students from College and St Margaret’s College. Such activities reflect our intention to ensure more of our boys have access to such life-affirming service experiences.
Carols on the Quad is an annual highlight – made even more special this year as it featured the premiere of our new waiata “Whakamanawa Ki Te Atua”, composed especially for College by the Puanaki family and made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Rolleston family. I would also like to acknowledge the commitment of Organist Nick Sutcliffe and Director of Music Robert Aburn, who so beautifully prepared the choir for this performance.
Many things contribute to the success of prize-giving – the boys playing musical interludes, the wonderful citations prepared by Deputy Principal Rob Donaldson, the demeanour of our prize winners and the palpable sense of pride in our community. I would also like to acknowledge Teacher–Librarian Lisa Trundley-Banks, Classics teacher Olivia Austin and Director of Sport Rob Clarke who prepare the prizes for presentation, as well as College’s communications team who prepare all associated documentation.
At prize-giving I had the honour of farewelling Board Chair Dr Ian Town, who has stepped down after four years in the role, having been a member of the Board since 2011. Ian has overseen a modernisation of the Board in both its practice and membership and has been a driving force through a period of renewal for College. Suffice to say his exceptional leadership has enabled College to see itself honestly and openly in a period of significant challenge and change. His commitment to our For the boys. For our future. campaign was extraordinary, and his firm hand on the tiller has set the school on the right path toward its future. I know I, along with other members of the Board and Executive, have directly benefited from Ian’s wisdom, experience and counsel and I would like to thank Ian for his years of service. His successor, Deputy Board Chair Hugh Lindo, will step up at the beginning of 2020.
We are well into the process of developing a feasible new plan that reflects the revised scope of our new Sporting Excellence, Health & Wellbeing facilities to be built at the far end of Upper. I look forward to sharing more news next year.
The future is exciting. But as we look forward, it is also important to look back and consider the experiences that shape us as people and as a community. In my prize-giving speech, I reflected on one of the most significant watershed events in Christchurch history:
"The terror attack in Christchurch on Friday 15 March, when a white supremacist extremist killed 51 innocent people at prayer, has – in many ways – cast its long shadow over the experience of this 2019 year. How we felt, how we reacted and what we take from that day forward into our lives, set all other events in this College and city into perspective.
“My challenge to you is to take the experience of Christ’s College and a deep reflection on the events of 15 March and make a good life for yourself and those you love now and will come to love in the future. My advice is to be the intentional designer of your own life in a way that serves you and the community of which you are a part. Too often what is heard is complaint and blame attribution about what is happening in one’s own circle of influence, rather than gratefulness for all that one has and a clearly understood purpose for self.
“Whether you are leaving or staying today your future, your place in the world, your relationships, your wellbeing and your legacy is your responsibility. Be informed, be thoughtful, be kind and by your own considered actions use your strengths to be your best self."
It is with this thought that I wish you all a very Merry Christmas – and I look forward to the 2020 year to come.