From the Principal - 11 August 2016

Kiaora Koutou

It was great to welcome new families and children to our school this week.  As Principal it is always a thrill to enrol new students knowing what a great environment we are able to provide to learn in.  Our school is based on honouring the individual, be it spiritually, academically or in reference to special abilities and it is this tenet that makes our kids grow.  We particularly welcome the following new students to our school; Salesa Aaifou-Olive, Baxter Carlin, David Chen, Ian Cho, Andy Chwi, Jane Hartman, Anna Hartman, Logan Kerr, Harin Kum, Caleb Lim, Caden Lowe, Mia Lowe, Madeline Mear, Lauren Osterman, Sarah Rush, Adam Rush, Caique Santos, Hunter Strahan, Leo Tian, Madelene van Vliet and Brielle Verzosa.

As a senior leadership team we have been focusing on the analysis of student progress over this half year.

The efforts that teachers, parents and students have applied to learning has provided us with some pleasing results.  Congratulations to all those students who have made notable academic gains in learning.

On a community note, it has been great to welcome Mr Piceno back to Room 4, albeit on a part time basis.  As you are no doubt aware, Randy suffered an unfortunate and serious fall late in term one which resulted in the need for back surgery.  It is great to have him back and we look forward to seeing the amount of hours he is able to give to Room 4 grow as the term progresses.

Traffic Safety

This is often a reminder I make further in my section of the newsletter, however, due to a number of recent notifications made to me in regard to student and traffic safety I would like to reiterate the following.  It is not acceptable to expect your child to cross any road unaccompanied before or after school.  With limited visibility created as a result of condensed car volumes and buses it is very hard for drivers to spot children running out from behind cars.

I am prompted to make this reminder as a result of a number of witnessed close calls.  A further complication in regard to safety is the speed cars are currently travelling down 13th Avenue, which I am aware are often not St Mary’s parents but I would ask that St Mary’s parents dropping children off are extra vigilant when pulling in and out of parks and turning into and out of driveways.

Tauranga Moana Ra Whakangahau Kapa Haka Festival 2016

As previously announced, this year Hato Maria (St Mary’s) will be hosting the 2016 Tauranga Moana Kapa Haka Festival on the 24th and 25th of November.  As the first Catholic School to host this event we will be looking to work with our other Catholic Schools and wider Whanau to impart Kaupau o Katorika (aspects Catholic) throughout the festival.

In moving forward we will be looking for volunteers to form a part of the 100 plus work party required to fulfill a number of tasks and responsibilities over the two days of the festival.  If being part of Ra Whakangahau excites you please email your name and contact details (phone and email address) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will be in further contact regarding specific roles and responsibilities that may interest you.

Absenteeism 

There has been a number of recent media commentators making reference to the number of families who are taking time away from school during term time for holidays.  There is no argument that this is a cheaper time to travel financially but it can have consequences educationally for children.  Our Ministry of Education now sees absence from school for this reason as Unjustified and we are therefore required to record it as such.  The ministries view being that, while as parents you are able to explain why your child is absent from school it is not viewed as a justifiable reason for which to remove your child from school.

Of interest in our recent analysis of student achievement was that 87% of students who are currently below National Standard at St Mary’s also have an attendance record of less that 90% or are away from school more than 1 day in 10.

A further related issue is the number of children who are turning up late to school.  Our bell to signal the start of the day goes at 8.50am.  All children should therefore be at school in advance of this, ideally at 8.30am so as to ensure they have time to prepare themselves for the day.  Children who are late to class often disrupt beginning of day prayer and organisation meaning learning of all is affected.

St Mary’s Catholic School 75th Jubilee

2017 marks the 75th Anniversary of the commencement of St Mary’s Catholic School in Tauranga.

St Mary’s Catholic School began in September 1942 managed and staffed entirely by the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, many of whom came to New Zealand from Ireland.  To celebrate this significant event in the life of the school a Jubilee weekend is planned to take place on September 22, 23 and 24 September 2017.

Please register your interest by visting our school website or by following us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/stmarystga.school.nz.  or by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To make the jubilee a success we would be grateful if you would pass on the above information to past pupils, parents, staff and friends of the school.

Ben Fuller
Principal

From the Principal - 8 July 2016

Kiaora Koutou

Greetings to all parents and members of our school community.  It is amazing how quickly a term goes when you throw in a school production in week 5!  Trek to the Top was of course the highlight of this busy term and the memories of the experience, I am sure, will remain for some time to come.

Welcome to Teresa Rush

Next term we welcome Mrs Teresa Rush to our staff as Director of Religious Studies.  As previously announced to our community, Teresa brings experience as a DRS and a teacher from St Mary’s in Rotorua.  We look forward to welcoming her and her family into our school community.

In welcoming Teresa we also thank Gavin Hesqua for the work he has done acting in the role this term.  With the support of staff Gavin has ensured our Religious Education programmes and our Liturgical observances have remained to the high standard traditionally displayed at St Mary’s.  On behalf of our school community my thanks to you Gavin for the commitment you have shown to the role.

Tauranga Moana Ra Whakangahau Kapa Haka Festival 2016

As previously announced, this year Hato Maria (St Mary’s) will be hosting the 2016 Tauranga Moana Kapa Haka Festival on the 24th and 25th of November.  As the first Catholic School to host this event we will be looking to work with our other Catholic Schools and wider Whanau to impart Kaupau o Katorika (aspects Catholic) throughout the festival.

To date we have presented to the combined Whanau of St Mary’s, St Thomas More and Aquinas College and as a combined whanau community have a clear understanding and commitment to staging an amazing festival for our wider Tauranga Moana Community.  In moving forward we will be looking for volunteers to form a part of the 100 plus work party required to fulfill a number of tasks and responsibilities over the two days of the festival. If being part of Ra Whakangahau excites you please keep a look out for further information early next term.

PTA Math-a-thon and Disco

This term our PTA has been extremely busy supporting many aspects of our school.  Our thanks on behalf of students and whanau for the efforts put into our major fundraising effort of the term, our Math-a-thon and the fun provided through our ‘Crazy Hat’ disco.  We are extremely fortunate to have such a hard working group of people supporting our school.

In closing for the term I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the many people who contribute to the success of our school in so many ways.  I wish parents and children a safe, fun and (if able) relaxing holiday break.

2017 Enrolments

With a growing demand for places at our school we are now looking at places for 2017.  At the time of writing we have approximately 20 new entrant places for students who will turn 5 during 2017 and a number of spaces across other year levels.  Our first priority is to ensure all siblings of students currently enrolled are in receipt of a place at our school and Catholic families within our community have the opportunity to attend our school.

Therefore, if you do anticipate having a child start at our school in 2017, please ensure enrolment procedures are completed asap.

75th Jubilee September 2017

2017 marks the 75th Anniversary of the commencement of St Mary’s Catholic School in Tauranga.

St Mary’s Catholic School began in September 1942 managed and staffed entirely by the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, many of whom came to New Zealand from Ireland.

To celebrate this significant event in the life of the school a Jubilee weekend is planned to take place on September 22, 23 and 24 September 2017.  A committee, under the chair of Michael Cooney has been formed and planning is underway to make this a very memorable occasion.  Registration and programme information will be available on our school website and Facebook page in the next few weeks but in the meantime we ask that you register your interest here http://bit.ly/29lzbz0.

To make the jubilee a success we would be grateful if you would pass on this information to past pupils, parents, staff and friends of the school.

Once you have submitted this form you will be emailed a registration form in the near future.

Ben Fuller

Principal

From the Principal - 10 May 2016

Kiaora Koutou

Greetings to all family and whanau of our school community and welcome to what has started as an extremely busy term.  A very warm welcome to Benjamin Wilson, Cora Barrett-Hodgson, Sienna Smart, Sam Lock, Samuel Farrelly, Zachary Good-Vitali, Saoirse Williamson, Chloe Evans, Mackenzie Jury, Emma Fulton, Henry Fulton, Carys Parry and Sophie Ferguson who have joined St Mary’s since our last newsletter

We are one week into our ‘Trek to the Top’ journey and no doubt your children have shared with you how preparations have been progressing.  Below is more information regarding ticket sales for this upcoming event.

Term two also signals the start of our winter sporting codes.  Many thanks on behalf of all involved to those parent volunteers who have put their hands up to help coach, manage or assist a team.  Sport at St Mary’s focuses on providing as many opportunities for as many children as possible in the sporting domain.  To further refine how we achieve this I will be focusing on the development of a new Sports Policy in the coming weeks so look forward to sharing this with parents later in the term.

The past weeks have seen a focus on education in our country with reference to OECD findings and comparisons with other OECD countries.  It is of course unfortunate to see our achievement slip against other countries and not something the sector as a whole takes lightly.  However, a recent OECD report ranked New Zealand teachers fourth out of 35 countries in terms of professionalism and primary teachers among those who complete the highest number of contact teaching hours per week.

Parent Trustee Elections
As you are aware this year we are holding our triennial Board of Trustee Elections.  Nomination forms have been posted to all parents current mailing address.  If you have not received nomination forms please notify our front office.  Nominations close on Friday 20 May at 12pm. 

Being a trustee is a vital role within our school community.  The board is the employer of all staff in the school and is responsible for setting the school’s strategic direction in consultation with parents, staff and students, and for ensuring that it’s school provides a safe environment and quality education for all its students.  Boards are also responsible for overseeing the management of personnel, curriculum, property, finance and administration.  http://www.trustee-election.co.nz/

To provide you with more information regarding being a trustee at St Mary’s Catholic School we will be holding two short information sessions on Wednesday 11 May in our school staff room.  The first session will start at 2.15pm and the second at 6pm with all interested parties welcome.

If you are unable to make either of the sessions but would like to know more information regarding standing for election to our board then please make contact with me.

Trek to the Top Ticket Sales
It is with great delight that we announce that tickets for this year’s 2016 St Mary’s School Musical are now on sale! Ladies and Gentlemen hold on tightly to your warm furry hats as we prepare to launch up Mt Everest for the very first time on stage. This is the story of Sir Edmund Hillary and his climb to the top of the world and it is coming live, to a stage near you, in a flurry of song, dance and drama! ‘Trek to the Top’ will be showing on Wednesday and Thursday the 1st & 2nd June, 2016 at 7pm in the Bethlehem College Performing Arts Centre, 37 Elder Lane Tauranga. This highly anticipated event is one not to be missed. Tickets are now on sale at the school office and can only be purchased using eftpos.

Term Two Reporting
This term we will be completing interim reports against National Standards.  This will occur in the form of a written report with a comment, suggested next steps in learning and a interim overall teacher judgement in regard to progress against National Standards in the Core Curriculum Areas of Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

New Trophy Cabinet
A trip through our front office will highlight a new trophy cabinet that has recently been installed.   This item has been crafted to demonstrate and showcase aspects of success at St Mary’s. On behalf of our school community I would like to thank the PTA for their generosity in funding this.

Tauranga Moana Ra Whakangahau Kapa Haka Festival 2016
This year Hato Maria (St Mary’s) will be hosting the 2016 Tauranga Moana Kapa Haka Festival on the 24th and 25th of November.  As a Kura we have participated in the festival in the last three years and we now have the privilege to host it.  This is an event that provides primary age school children with the opportunity to participate in Kapa Haka performance in a non competitive atmosphere.  As the first Catholic School to host this event we will be looking to work with our other Catholic Schools and wider Whanau to impart Kaupau o Katorika (aspects Catholic) throughout the festival.

We anticipate over 40 schools participating, with up to 5000 spectators and performers visiting our school over the two days of the festival.  How can we help I hear you say?  Stand by for information from our Whanau group regarding invitations to attend related meetings and to be a part of working parties.

Traffic Safety
The safety of our students on and around our school grounds is paramount. We therefore request that all parents take due care and diligence in respect to parking around our school. Please do not park in the bus stop and if required to park opposite the school on 13th Avenue, we ask that you meet your child/ren on the school side first before escorting them over the road. Do NOT drive your car into the school grounds to drop off a child unless special permission has been granted.

Uniform
By the end of this week all children should have made  the transition to our winter uniform expectations.  With our new multi season uniform this is quite simple with the only change being footwear.  Black leather shoes with white socks for girls and black leather shoes with school socks for boys.  Shoes must be leather lace up for boys, leather lace up or with a buckle for girls and have no other colour than black visible.  

In addition to this we also allow a white under garment to be worn under girls dresses should an additional layer be required and a black undergarment that boys can wear under the polo.  Both are available from NZ Uniforms. It is expected that the under garment be an additional layer to the fleece or jacket if required and should not be visible above the collar.

Swimming Presentations
As a result of an extremely full rehearsal schedule for Trek to the Top we are not holding our normal Friday afternoon assemblies.  We would however like to recognise swimming success from last term after our Monday Liturgy on 16 May.  This will include the recognition of all School, South Cluster and WBoP achievements. 

Zero Lunchbox Litter at St Mary’s School
Pope Francis has a very clear message about looking after God’s Creation and the need to recycle and reduce the rubbish we create.  We all need to take action and be responsible for our own beautiful environment here at St Mary’s School. Therefore, we want  a rubbish free school for everyone to enjoy. 

Our existing Zero Lunchbox Litter Programme requires all packaging and fruit/vegetable waste that is used in lunchboxes to be taken home to be disposed of.  

Initiated in Term 3 of 2015, this one action alone has had an immediate impact on the amount of rubbish on the school site, and  Reusing and Recycling at St Mary’s School continues to be a big part of our daily lives.  

We encourage you to continue with the commitment you place on teaching children to be responsible and take action for caring for our immediate environment and the world around us.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Ben Fuller
Principal

From the Principal - 20 June 2016

Kiaora Koutou

Greetings to all members of our St Mary’s community and particularly a warm welcome to Ian Yun, Lorenzo Goldstone, Tyla Beck, Venice Abasolo, Tom Lee and Rina Lee.

May I first convey my thanks for the contribution all made towards the success of our Trek to the Top musical production.  In reflecting on the week of performances there is possibly no better way to bring a school community together in celebration of student achievement. 

The focus of education in New Zealand is very much centred on academic achievement and in the primary sector, achievement specifically in Reading, Writing and Mathematics.  You will not hear me say that this is not important.   However, after witnessing the artistic expression portrayed by our amazing students during Trek to the Top journey, I will definitely continue to advocate for the incorporation of a range of opportunities for children to experience success.

A special mention must go to the outstanding husband and wife Gobsmacked team of Patrice and Dion Williamson.  Congratulations to you both.  My heartfelt thanks to my staff for your passion and support of the production. In particular a special thank you to Pip Berquist for your fantastic leadership in our Trek to the Top.

Samoan Language Week
We were lucky to have the opportunity as a school to move from an amazing show week straight into a celebration of Samoan language and culture thanks to the work of the parents in our recently formed Pasifika group.  It was great to have parents come into our classes to teach our children some Samoan language and expose us all to aspects of Samoan culture.  The week culminated in a fantastic celebration assembly led by the Pasifika group.  My thanks on behalf of our community for all the work that went into the many facets of the week.

School / Parish Mass
It was great to see so many students and families at our recently held school parish Mass.  This is a termly event that all should look forward to and make themselves available for.  My thanks to Fr Edwin for saying Mass for us and to all who contributed to the liturgy.  I was heard to say that I think our Susum Chorda Choir is sounding as good if not better than they ever have!  Well done Mrs Washer and Mrs Driver for the way these children are prepared for each occasion.

Board of Trustee Elections
My thanks to all who took the time to make an informed voting selection in our recent Board of Trustee elections.  Those elected members now have the challenge of continuing to guide and govern the strategic direction of our school.  Again my thanks to departing trustees of Kelly Quin, Scott Brodie, Shirley-Marie Whata-Coffin, Amy Rogers, Steve Curtis and Gavin Hesqua, and my congratulations to those who have been duly elected.  I look forward to working with you all for the betterment of educational opportunities at St Mary’s Catholic School.

Those elected trustees being:

Shem Banbury; Antoine Coffin; Shay Hulsebosch; Claire Stott; Anne Young; Donna Vincent (staff representative).

Science Extravaganza 
At the conclusion of our show week we were privileged to witness a Science Extravaganza Show presented by renowned biologist Siouxsie Wiles.  We were also privileged to host both Merivale and Bellevue Schools who joined us for a morning tea provided by Taylor Bros.  The extravaganza was a great insight into the potential of science for our children, with the time spent with tamariki from other kura equally as valuable.

Traffic Safety
The safety or our students  on and around our school grounds is paramount. I therefore request that all parents take due care and diligence in respect to parking around our school. Please do not park in the bus stop and if required to park opposite the school on 13th Avenue, I ask that you meet your child/ren on the school side first before escorting them over the road. Do NOT drive your car into the school grounds to drop off or pick up a child unless special permission has been granted.

I also ask that you are courteous of residents who are essentially the schools neighbours.  Parking on grass verges or across driveways is definitely not appropriate and should be avoided.

Ben Fuller
Principal

From the Principal - 6 April 2016

Kiaora Koutou

A very warm welcome to Jack Cunningham and Helena Caunter who have joined St Mary’s since our last newsletter and greetings to all family and whanau of our school community.  We are approaching the end of our first term of learning here at St Mary’s Catholic School.  An eleven week term that has had a much deserved and celebrated Easter Break within it.  

Last month we both recognised and celebrated Holy Week as a school.  In recognising and participating in the week, children were immersed in learning associated with the events of Easter.  I must thank all staff, children and members of our community who contributed in many ways to such a successful and faith filled week, especially our acting DRS Mr Gavin Hesqua who, assisted by our RE team, planned and implemented a memorable week of Our Lord’s journey to the Cross.

Board of Trustee Elections
This year is our triennial Board of Trustee Election where as a community parent trustees are nominated and elected to roles of Governance.  At St Mary’s our Board of Trustees has five positions for parent trustees and a range of skills and experiences are needed in order to perform effective governance of our school.  

There is more information in regard to being a trustee and the process of nomination and election to be distributed as we progress towards our Election on Friday 3 June.  If you have any questions in regard to becoming a board member I would be happy to speak further with you or alternatively the link below has information in regard to the role of a school board trustee.  ‘A parents’ guide to the role of the board ot trustee’ booklets are also available from the school office.  www.trustee-election.co.nz

Term 2 Reporting
Next term we will be completing interim reports against National Standards.  This will occur in the form of a written report with a comment, suggested next steps in learning and a interim overall teacher judgement in regard to progress against National Standards in the core curriculum areas of Reading, Writing and Mathematics. 

Uniform
Next term we will make the transition to winter and our winter uniform expectations.  With our new multi season uniform this is quite simple with the only change being footwear.  Black leather shoes with white socks for girls and black leather shoes with grey St Mary’s school socks for boys.  Shoes must be leather lace up for boys, leather lace up or with a buckle for girls and have no other colour than black visible.  

In addition to this we also allow a white under garment to be worn under girls dresses should an additional layer be required and a black undergarment that boys can wear under the polo.  These are available from NZ Uniforms.

Fees
A reminder to Parents, that all remaining amounts on your term one school account should be paid in full no later than Thursday next week.  This does not include the optional donation portion of the account, which can be paid over the remaining school terms. Should you need to discuss this or anything else in relation to your school account, please contact Karen at the school office.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trek to the Top
As you may be aware earlier this term auditions were held for our lead roles in Trek to the Top.  These children are already working hard learning their parts and honing their acting skills.  From the start of next term each class involved, from year 2 - 6, will start to learn songs and parts pertinent to their role in our production.  It will be an exciting time and will ensure parents are well informed of progress towards our final performances in the first week of June.

Ben Fuller
Principal