Early in the lockdown period Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield suggested that leadership in a time of crisis was a call to collective action. I am privileged to say this opportunity has been taken at College, where the contribution of boys, staff, parents, Board and the wider community has seen us progress over the past eight weeks in a purposeful and effective manner.
We have managed the shift to lockdown, to school holidays, to remote learning, to the return to school and to a full school programme after Queen’s Birthday weekend with positivity and care. Our focus on student and staff wellbeing has been the key. We have not rushed, overpromised, or expected too much, nor anticipated that our community is nothing less than resilient and able. I am proud of what we have achieved and of all involved. I am also very conscious of the good fortune we have had here at Christ’s College, Canterbury, facing this global pandemic in Aotearoa–New Zealand, something for which we must be forever grateful.
We look forward to all our Houses returning to their homes next week. I acknowledge here the exceptional engagement of our Housemasters and mentors who have supported the boys throughout. Our boarding staff have also been remarkable, managing all the contradictions of residential life and physical distancing, and our wellbeing team have been outstanding in their support of staff and students. How fortunate we are to have such depth of care as a part of the College experience.
Because of Covid, we have had to change many of our calendar events – from parent–student–teacher interviews, to House Music and House Plays … even the “Boys’ High game” has been “shoved” about a little. Sport has been particularly affected with ongoing changes of expectations. I am very pleased that we will be able to fully commence our co-curricular programme from Tuesday 2 June. This will also include aspects of House competitions. The boys are ready to go and our greatest challenge will be to manage their levels of enthusiasm to do everything at once. Please check our online calendar regularly, as things are still moving due to circumstances beyond our control. It is unfortunate that things are not the same and we all need to simply readjust our expectations accordingly … even the Olympics have been postponed.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, Kiwis have had to adapt their faith practices: Christians celebrated Holy Week and Easter Day, Jews celebrated Passover, Muslims were in the holy month of Ramadan. This week is the last week of the Great 50 Days of the Easter Season, and Sunday 31 May is Pentecost Sunday.
Faith communities have adapted rapidly, moving online and changing traditions and rituals to a virtual context. I have long been an advocate of translating ancient wisdom and practices into the third millennium.
The shared values of faith traditions have been accentuated. On Thursday 14 May, believers all around the world joined together through prayer, fasting and acts of charity, to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic – including wisdom for leaders and the search for solutions and a vaccine. Here in Christchurch a video was produced by representatives from faith groups including Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baháʼí, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Quaker, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The values and virtues of humanity’s great faith traditions have come to the fore: the value of working together, of caring about and for those weaker and more vulnerable, the value of caring for the environment, our milieu, our planet. We have managed to reduce pollution and carbon emissions, to get homeless people into accommodation, and we have even managed to reduce suicide rates.
There are huge challenges facing us – and these times perhaps feel as if we are stuck in a science fiction dystopia, with a rather befuddled plotline. Within our own country, how do we care for those financially devastated by Covid-19? Internationally, at the time of writing, I read that African Americans are dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of white people. Huge injustices are being highlighted. Having seen first-hand the favelas of Brazil and the densely packed shanties in Africa and elsewhere, I am fearful of how Covid-19 will spread in places where physical distancing and serious handwashing are simply impossible.
I have been impressed by the adaptability and positivity of our students and whanau. They have been just as ready to ask how I am as I have been to check how they are. I have been emphasising wherever I can that we need to be gentle with each other and with ourselves. Our emotional buffer may be thinner than we may be aware of. I have also been stressing that we want physical distancing and social connecting. There are positives we can discover at this time: new skills we have had to acquire, unhelpful patterns of behaviour that we have found easier to give up than we might have thought, and a better realisation of what is really important. Let us not lose these and other positive benefits.
Our country was impelled into a Lent none of us had expected. As well as winning against Covid-19, there are other positives we can draw and continue from our time in lockdown – and that could be an Easter Season gift to us individually and together.
What a delight it has been to see everyone back on site after our four weeks of remote learning. Overall, the boys are in a very good space. They are motivated and keen to learn. The break from onsite teaching seems to have focused them on the value of the classroom, and I am confident their education will be all the better for it. There are still six weeks to go in Term 2, and this is a great time for rich learning and meaningful assessment.
In response to the recent disruption to education, NZQA has announced a change to external examination dates at the end of the year. This is certainly a positive for our students, as it gives us some flexibility with internal assessments in Terms 3 and 4. While our remote learning was productive in terms of learning, there was some impact on original assessment timelines, and this ensures we are now able to redress this. Even better though, aside from some changes to due dates and the last date of classes for seniors, there is no need for wider change to our school calendar (see date changes below).
Another area impacted by Covid-19 has been our parent–teacher–student interviews. We had to cancel our junior day at the end of Term 1, and to minimise disruption to students and parents so soon after our return to site, we have also decided to postpone the interviews that were due to be held this week. Therefore, we will now hold our senior interviews at the end of Term 2 and our junior interviews at the start of Term 3. We know parents and teachers alike value this opportunity and feel this is worthwhile so, in the optimistic belief that the country will continue the positive trend regarding our opportunities to gather together, we have changed the dates.
Date changes to note:
Years 11–13 parent–teacher–student interviews – Friday 3 July, 8.30am–5pm. No classes, but Year 10 students on site for Immerse & Inspire programmes
Years 9–10 parent–teacher–student interviews – Monday 20 July, 8.30am–5pm. No classes
Last day of school and examination briefing for Year 13 students – Friday 6 November
Last day of school and examination briefing for Year 11 and 12 students – Monday 9 November
Director of Wellbeing & Positive Education
The transition back
For all of us, the events of the last few months were not something we could have anticipated or prepared for, and even now things are still changing as we adapt to the “new normal”. This month SchoolTV turns the spotlight on Coronavirus – the transition back.
During this time, it is important that we put a high price on our own self-care, so we can then support others in our family and places of work. Everyone's experiences and stories relating to the coronavirus are unique to them, and it is important to understand that although some may quickly get back to normal, many others will not.
Taking time to check in with your children is particularly important – and doing so on a consistent basis as they settle back into school and manage its associated pressures. Use breakfast, dinner time and bedtime to check in with your children to see how they are coping with school and other activities. We know some students managed lockdown well, keeping up with their schoolwork and adjusting to new ways of being, but others found online learning – as well as being away from their friends and other activities – challenging.
The resources on SchoolTV are there to help you support your children in their transition back to school and their usual routines and habits. Please feel free to contact the College wellbeing team if you have any questions or concerns about your son.
Please click on the above link to access information. Add your email in the box provided, and confirm via email if you would like to receive weekly updates. Recent posts include: Events • UC – stay in touch Zoom appointments, Year 12 online zoom sessions, information evening • Ara – NASDA, New Zealand Broadcasting School • Massey University Design Competition Latest jobs • MoneyHub – alternatives to university, student loans, CV update, student jobs • Seek – CV preparation • Occupation outlook • Apprenticeships information News • Godairy – information about dairy farming • University of Auckland – connect with current students, faculty presentations, fast track offers • AUT – degree programme information videos • Ara – virtual presentations • UC – scholarships, accommodation, introductory presentation, Year 12 presentation • Victoria University – stay connected • Massey University – useful tips for online learning • University of Otago – communication with Otago, future students, nutrition • Lincoln University – Open Day, contacts • University of Sydney – information for future students • EducationUSA – options and services • MedEntry – UCAT • Swiss Education Group – hospitality • Top 5 in demand skills
We all got used to online Zoom and Google Meets during lockdown. Careers work continued with Google Meets with Year 12 students, which covered a review of their Year 11 interview, subject choices, and signing on to College’s CareerWise website. In many cases, we looked at tertiary websites and I guided them through areas of interest. We had Zoom meetings with Lincoln University looking at agribusiness and property management, and with the University of Otago.
Inzone careers kiosk
We now have an Inzone careers kiosk in the library. The boys are able to view short video clips of jobs available within different vocational pathways, including construction and infrastructure, creative industries, manufacturing and technology, primary and services industries, and social and community services. I encourage boys to put the headphones on and sit and watch these videos at their leisure.
Director of Boarding and the Centre for Character & Leadership
It was great to see the boarders returning to their respective Houses just over a week ago and to catch up on their lockdown experiences. I want to acknowledge boarding parents for their positive approach to and support of their boys returning to College. To have a 100% return rate was pleasing and suggests they were comfortable with the plans we had put in place for boarding under alert level 2. Boys do tend to be creatures of habit and I have been impressed with the way they have settled back in and adjusted to the “new norm” and the required changes. As expected, when a planned process meets practice changes can be required, and some initial conditions put in place have already had adjustments made.
Some adjustments have been made to leave conditions and these will again be reviewed after Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
Years 9 and 10 Monday–Friday – 1 town leave and 1 Uber Eats Weekend – 1 town leave and 1 Uber Eats
Years 11 and 12 Monday–Friday – 2 town leaves and 1 Uber Eats Weekend – 2 town leaves and 1 Uber Eats
Year 13 Monday–Friday – 3 town leaves and 2 Uber Eats Weekend – 3 town leaves and 2 Uber Eats
these conditions still have restrictions on places to go, including New World Durham Street and Riverside Market for Year 13 students only
tea leave or sports leave and runs in Hagley Park are not included in the above restrictions, but still need to be coordinated through each boy's Housemaster
weekend leave is to parents only
Queen’s Birthday Weekend
is no longer an exeat weekend, and boys who need to stay in are able to do so in their respective Houses. With the planned parent–student–teacher interviews no longer taking place on Friday 29 May, the boys will now be able to go home after school on Friday 29 May and return on the evening of Monday 1 June.
Health checks on returning to College
If your son has been unwell and away from College he will be given a quick health check at the Health Centre to confirm no signs of illness remain before returning to his boarding House. He will need to return to College during the school day to enable this to happen. If this is not possible, he can return and stay in Jacobs House overnight until he can be checked.
Immerse & Inspire
As a result of recent events, we have also had to make some adjustments to the Year 10 Immerse & Inspire residential programme. With parts of Jacobs House currently in use as a day House as well as an isolation area for unwell boarders, we are not in a position to operate Immerse & Inspire as planned during Term 2.
Given the positive outcomes for the boys who have previously been involved in the programme, we are keen to continue with Immerse & Inspire, albeit in a slightly modified format, through Terms 3 and 4. The adventurous journey at the Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre will continue as per normal, but the boys will only have two weeks in Jacobs House instead of the original three. The three-day programmes at the end of Terms 2 and 3 will take place as planned.
With students and staff having completed the survey, we are now at the next stage of our involvement in the cross-cultural study of leadership in Round Square schools. We are one of only 12 Round Square schools from around the world to be part of this project. Its objectives are to:
identify how young people conceptualise leadership as an abstract concept
examine the practice of who, how and why students engage in leadership
investigate the experiences and reflections of youth leadership
analyse how youth leadership varies across different cross-cultural contexts worldwide
The next part of the project involves interviewing some students and staff about leadership. I, along with students Jack Drage and Jamie Barr, will do this over the remainder of the term. The information we receive back as a school from being part of the project will be of huge value as we continue to evolve our character and leadership programmes.
The Christ’s College Register of December 1918 sums it up: “This past year has been, perhaps, the most eventful in the lives of many of us”. The editor was referring not only to the end of the First World War, but also to the influenza epidemic that followed so closely on its conclusion.i
The third term of 1918 began on Saturday 14 September. The Tancred History and Literature examinations were held 7–8 Octoberii and the athletic sports, which regularly drew friends and supporters, followed on 10 October. Villiers Barchan Vaughan Powell (2982) broke records in the U14 long jump and 100 yards, as did Harris Smith Waghorn Hindmarsh (2806) in the quarter mile open, and James Henry Nalder (3020) in the U16 one mile.iii In town, the Patriotic Bazaar, which had been running since 1915 to raise funds for wounded soldiers, drew crowds on 11–12 October – and the 1st XI managed to play the first innings against St Albans on 12 October.
Were the crowds at the sports the reason why the following week there was an outbreak of influenza that affected about half the boarders and a large number of dayboys? No one quite knows, for – like Covid-19 – there are many questions about the epidemiology of the 1918 flu and its worldwide spread. Whatever the reason, Christ’s College clearly had an outbreak of some kind, although TheStar
of 19 October suggested the worst of it was over by then.iv In the meantime, only one boy was well enough to represent College at the rehearsal for the Red Cross Appeal “Our Day” processionv in association with the fair on 15 October, but 150 cadets turned up the following day and carried banners, collected money and joined others, including about 100 Red Cross workers, as they walked through the city.
was not, however, correct, as the influenza lingered on at College. On the day that the information was published, the 1st XI, College B and College A teams had to default their cricket games. All three games had begun the previous Saturday, but were unable to continue. The 1st XI was missing nine of its team members. It is therefore surprising that in the evening Rev. Frederick Augustus Bennett, superintendent for Māori work in the Diocese of Waiapu, spoke to a group in Big School about Māori life and history.vi
This was not the end of the story. It was planned College would have an exeat from 7–11 November to acknowledge the surrender of Bulgaria and Turkey and the numerous military decorations that had been conferred on Old Boys. When peace was announced 20–30 boys “armed with the band instruments and kerosene tins joined in the impromptu procession through the town, and added their quota to the general din”.vii But the boys did not return because Dr Chesson, the District Health Officer and father of Ivan Tulk Chesson-Lander (2433), closed all theatres, billiard salons and schools due to an increase in the numbers infected by the influenza. He recommended people isolate themselves in their homes if they showed any signs of infection.viii
What did that mean for College? School examinations, the Snow Shield competition and cricket games against Christchurch Boys’ High School and Otago Boys’ High School were abandoned. Prize-giving was delayed until February 1919. University scholarship and matriculation examinations were postponed until January. The boarding Houses were fumigated.
There was one death, that of William Vagg, the College caretaker.ix It appears he contracted a mild form of the influenza in October, but succumbed in November. His obituary in Register
records him as “a great worker, and a kindly soul, even amidst the petty irritations of schoolboy pranks and untidiness”.x He mowed and watered the cricket ground, cut the grass on the Quad, filled up coal buckets, made tea for the Corsair Bay picnics, helped to build snowmen, and kept the fires going in the classrooms. He worked for College for 32 years, and the plaque on the Big School wall commemorates him as a faithful servant.
iChrist’s College Register December 1918 p100. See also Teal, FJ (2013) The Influenza Epidemic In Black & WhiteNo 60 p11. ii See Christ’s College Register April 1919 p162 for the prize winners. iii See Christ’s College Register December 1918 p114–115 for the full results. ivTheStar 19 October 1918 section on cricket. vThe Sun 15 October 1918. “Our Day” fundraising by the Red Cross began in 1915 in Britain. Its origin is considered to be Queen Alexandra’s Day when people purchased flowers to show their support for her. vi FA Bennett was consecrated Bishop of Aotearoa in 1928. This was a suffragan position in the Diocese of Waiapu. viiChrist’s College Register December 1918 p109. viiiThe Sun 11 November 1918. ix Teal, FJ (2012) William Vagg In Black & White No 34 p6. xChrist’s College Register December 1918 pp105–106.
It felt as if the year had only just begun when the threat of pandemic exploded into our consciousness and – following the Government’s decisive action to curb the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand – we were thrown into lockdown. Along with the virus, a whole new vocabulary soon emerged: asymptomatic, bubble, cluster, contact tracing, coronavirus, flatten the curve, Google Meet, panic buying, physical distancing, PPE, quarantine, remote learning, self-isolation, Zoom ... and the daily update became must-see TV.
As in every school in New Zealand, College staff sprang into action to ensure as smooth a transition as possible and, by the time the country entered alert level 4 on Wednesday 25 March, we were ready for life in lockdown. Teachers curated remote learning programmes, Chapel and assembly continued online, boys shared their experiences on CC Quarantine Cribs, the College Project went digital, and Schoolbox proved its worth as a reliable learning management platform.
From “Casa Cortesi”, his “country estate” in Lincoln, Harper Housemaster and Physical Education teacher Matt Cortesi kept all his (foot)balls in the air, managing Housemaster and teaching responsibilities, helping to...