A very warm welcome back to you all. It’s been a very long break, and I’m very happy to be back. And I know you are too! I’d like to extend a welcome to those new students joining us today, and extend the offer from all of us here that we are all here to help you settle into the Newlands way as quickly as possible.
2014 for you is a very important year. As you all know NCEA is just around the corner, and you will begin to accumulate credits this year. At the end of Y13 in just under four years time I will be congratulating you on building a sky scrapper of success. This year you will continue to build on the foundations that you have already begun. Being Wellingtonians, we must be very aware of the risks of earthquakes, and therefore we recognise the importance of getting these foundations right. We want to equip you with the potential to build the tallest building each and every one of you possibly can. For that to happen, you will need to remember a lot of the advice and guidance that you received last year and you will need to use it to ensure you get you concrete strips and ground floor layout as good as it can be.
Looking back over last year and all I spoke to you about, there emerged some key themes. These are things I hope you remember, and you will continue hearing about them this year. These are themes like Opportunities, manners, decisions, consequences and growing up.
The best way to measure how much you have grown in the last year isn’t your height or the test scores that were on your end of year report. Though these things are important. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, how you’ve chosen to spend your time, the opportunities you’ve taken, and the people with whom you’ve spent it. How well you do these things, that to me is the measure of success.
As you have probably picked up I’m coming back to the idea of manners, that of being polite, courteous and generally a kind person. This year nothing changes. I spoke to you the first time we met about never underestimating how far politeness will get you. I told you about how valued manners are at Newlands College and how we make this a safe place because we are all nice to each other.
There’s a wonderful line in a book by J M Barrie – who is the guy that wrote Peter Pan (so he’s someone that knows about growing up) – in “The Little White Bird” (which is quoted in a great book called ‘Wonder’ by R J Palacio which I read over the holidays). He wrote: “Shall we make a new rule of life… to always try to be a little bit kinder than is necessary”.
Kinder than necessary. Because it is not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed. Why I love that line, that concept, is that is reminds me that we carry with us as human beings not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness. And what does that mean? How kind we are? How is that measured? It’s not exactly quantifiable? We can’t really put a number on it? How do we know we’ve been kind?
These are questions for you to reflect on, but I hope you do take on board this new rule of life, and remember this idea of being kinder than necessary, and find out what I believe… that if all of you here made the effort to be kinder than necessary – this school, this world even, would be an even better place.
Together we are gathered here because we create a unity and identity, we are Y10. Today we are here not to celebrate achievements, but instead to celebrate your possibilities in 2014. This is a year with so many opportunities and there will be some very special achievements. Make the most of these opportunities, whether they be in the classroom, on the sports field, on this stage when it is transformed into a medieval castle for Spamalot this year’s musical, or in another arts pursuit, whether it be the opportunity to excel in something outside of school, or in a leadership position, or in the opportunity to open a door for someone else, or thank the person that did it for you.
Before I send you off with your Form Classes, I want to make mention that for the first time you will not be the youngest year level in the school. The new Year Nines are currently at peer support camp. Now that you are in Year 10, don’t forget what it was like to be a Year 9.
In a few minutes you will get your timetable, your homework diary and some important information from your Form Teachers. Listen to the information they give you – there are some important changes this year that you need to be aware of. But most of all, enjoy being back at school. We are very excited to have you back with us – so join us in looking forward to what 2014 has in store for us.