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Charting a good course

St Matthew’s Collegiate School principal Kiri Gill says students coped well with last year’s covid-19 intrusions. PHOTOS/FILE

The Times-Age wants to celebrate the success of Wairarapa’s secondary school students in a year where covid-19 threw learners yet more curveballs. Today, St Matthew’s Collegiate School provides TOM TAYLOR with a breakdown of its triumphs in 2021.

Reflecting on the 2021 school year, St Matthew’s Collegiate School principal Kiri Gill said she saw many positives in her school’s achievements.

Gill said her students and staff were already seasoned from one year of covid-19 and had coped well with last year’s intrusions, postponements, and adaptations of events and programmes.

“School should be about raising positive souls because they will lead us into tomorrow,” Gill said.

“To do that, we had to demonstrate leadership through unchartered waters. We had to reset our courses a few times as a result of the changing alert level seascapes, but the community felt we had plotted our course well.”

Gill said Secretary for Education Iona Holsted had guided the school well through all of the changes last year.

However, Gill said the school focused on keeping some routines constant despite these changes.

“The way we managed this year was to focus on our strengths. A key strength for any school is that those who attend it feel safe being there.

“What keeps a feeling of safety in any place is that there are routines, expectations, and certainties.”

When some staff members decided to retire last year, the school took the opportunity to examine itself.

Ocean Bartlett led St Matthew’s to the national finals of the Gillette Venus Cup for the third year running.

“We put our boarding, special character, and direction as a school under the microscope,” Gill said.

“The upshot is that we will continue to celebrate the traditions of our school and the hard work of the successors with the renewed vigour of our new chaplain, director of boarding, and head of music and drama.”

Gill said a Wellbeing in Schools survey found that almost 90 per cent of St Matthew’s students felt a sense of belonging and safety at school – “not a bad result” considering how many factors were out of their control last year.

She said that academically, the school had continued to have motivated students achieving success.

“With good management, we will achieve near our previous 100 per cent [pass rate] for the last five years.”

In the cultural sphere, St Matthew’s Viva Camerata choir won a gold award at the Cadenza competition, and the school put on two productions: “The Addams Family” and “Joseph”.

The St Matthew’s First XI cricket team took out the Youth Sports Team of the Year at the 2021 Wairarapa Times-Age Sports Awards for two top-three finishes at the Gillette Venus Cup national finals. The school finished third in 2019 and bettered that with a runner-up finish in 2020.

“Overall, we have excelled in doing what we do – as a team,” Gill said.

St Matthew’s Collegiate School Award Recipients

Dux: Cecilia Beck

Proxime Accessit: Selene Mak

Top academic in Year 12: Madison Wilkinson

Top academic in Year 9-11: Sophie Bassett

Top academic in Year 7-8: Seraia Lim

2021 head student: Freya Cook

Best sportsperson [for most outstanding sporting achievement]: Kianna Dawson

General Excellence in Sport: Ocean Bartlett

Cultural excellence/performing arts: Charlotte Burgin

Penlington Service: Johanna Cloutman

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