From the Principal - 22 February 2017

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou

Greetings to you all!  A special welcome to our new families and new children, Brian Liu, Natasha Couchman-Erickson and Briar O’Connor. 

It is great to see the start we have had to our school year and the enthusiasm shown by all across our wonderful school community.  There is certainly an element of excitement with what the year will bring which has been fueled by the ambitious approach to teaching and learning within our student environments.

Parent Meeting
I was impressed with the number of  parents who came to our first information meeting in week 2.  While it is always good to see a large number of enthusiastic parents within our centre, the real benefit for myself was the ability to help inform you in regard to how we at St Mary’s will be approaching the implementation of collaborative practice.

Following on from this meeting I have had a number of positive comments regarding the approach and aspects of practice that we are all now witnessing.  I would encourage any parents who have questions to first talk to their classroom teacher specifically about how they are approaching working together more actively with their teaching colleagues.

Others have asked for more information in regard to current changes within education.  Below are a couple of links that may help widen your knowledge in regard to the rationale behind changes to education both globally and within New Zealand.

Tony Grey 

Ken Robinsons

Mark Osbourne

Meet the Teacher
On the same note, it is great to see almost a full attendance at our learning conversations held this week.  It definitely shows that you as a parent body are focused on being the best enabler of learning you can be.

New Build
Work has restarted on our current building project which is great to see.  Steve Page has had his machinery in operation over the last few days which has been of great interest to the kids.  Also of interest to you as parents are some health and safety practices that we have been required to implement.  These include controlled entry of all construction related vehicles and specific site access requirements.  Please ensure when you are here out of hours with your children you are aware of any work that is in progress.

Present predictions for the completion of this project are for late June, early July which will mean open for business at the beginning of term 3.

Parking Harvey Street
We have had a number of complaints from our Harvey Street neighbours in regard to current parking practices.  In particular parents parking at the end of the culdesac and restricting the ability for cars to turn around at the end of the street and parking in residence driveways and on grass verges.  As a result, as a school, we are now part of the council traffic monitoring programme which means traffic wardens and police will routinely patrol issuing infringement notices where appropriate.

We would all agree that it shouldn’t come to this and the best way to ensure good traffic behaviour and maintain respect for our neighbours is to make sure you have plenty of time to park, park appropriately and then walk to meet your children.  There are very few places around our school site where children can walk directly to cars in sight of parents.

We have some great events coming up including trips to Waimarino and our PTA Outdoor Adventure Day so please make sure you keep connected to what is happening.

Don’t forget to pop down to school tomorrow afternoon from 2.30pm and visit the Coffee Cart for a free coffee or hot chocolate, kindly sponsored by our wonderful PTA.

 

Nga mihi nui

Ben Fuller
Principal

From the Principal - 7 February 2017

Kia ora Koutou Katoa

Greetings to you all,  happy new year and welcome to the start of the 2017 academic year at St Mary’s Catholic School.  Special greetings and welcome to all those new to our school community.  I look forward to sharing in the success of your children as they progress through the coming year.  I also look forward to interacting with you as members of our community.

We started our school year with 423 students which is a record starting roll for St Mary’s.  Among those are  46 new enrolments who I am sure will make the most of the many opportunities within our school community.

There are many events within, and involving our community coming up, including a full school parent meeting at 5.15pm on Thursday 9 February, our new children and new families liturgy in week 3 and our Ash Wednesday liturgy on 1 March.  Please check our website and / or other sources of communication for these and many more events, which we welcome you all to.

New Teachers to St Mary’s
We welcome two new teachers to our St Mary’s community.  Mrs Lisa Walter will be teaching in Room 4 and Miss Amber Simonsen will be teaching in Room 13.  Both Lisa and Amber are new to their respective careers in teaching and we are extremely excited to be in a position to witness their growth and development.  I am sure you will join me in welcoming them to our school.

Parent Meeting 5.15pm Thursday
New Zealand and global education is a rapidly changing landscape.  However, in negotiating this landscape at a local level it is important that schools continue to explain and evaluate the merits of proposed change.  This year we hope to provide a number of opportunities to involve parents in this process.  The first being a focus on collaborative practices across our school and within our Aroha team.

New Building
As you may well have noticed, work has started on the construction of our new classroom block.  This project is being managed by Aspect Construction.  To date initial excavation work has occurred with more progress to follow.  There are of course many health and safety considerations that accompany construction work on a school site.  As the build progresses and these become more relevant I will ensure both students and parents are informed of all pertinent and related safety information

Uniform
We have now completed our transition to our new school uniform, meaning all students should be in the correct uniform as outlined on our website.  Seeing the full school last week in uniforms that were sparkling was extremely impressive so my thanks and compliments to all parents who ensured their children were well prepared for school.

Sun Safety
As it is summer all students must also have a school hat that needs to be worn when outdoors.  Please ensure this is named and stays at school.  It is also recommended that you apply sunscreen to your child each morning if required as further protection.  We do have sunscreen available in classes should students require it.

Absences 
If your child is absent from school please notify the school office by phone or text before 9.00am on the morning of the absence. The school absentee mobile number is:  021 2969437.  

When a child returns to school after an absence please give a written explanation to his/her classroom teacher.

Arriving late to school
If your child has an appointment and is going to be late to school then a call or text to the office is much appreciated.  When you arrive to school you must come through the school office and sign your child in.

Signing in and out - Heath and Safety
If, for whatever reason you are going to be on the school grounds, then please come through the school office to sign in and out.  If you are taking your child out of school early then please, also come through the school office to sign out.  

School Hours:

Monday to Friday: 8.50am – 2.55pm

Morning tea:   10.35am – 11.00am

Lunch:   12.30pm – 1.20pm

As a general rule, pupils should not be at school before 8.15am or after 3.30pm.  Please ensure that your child is at school on time for the start of the school day. This gives the opportunity for a well prepared and settled beginning to classes.

Traffic Safety
The safety or our students is paramount. We therefore request that all parents take due care and diligence in respect to driving and parking around our school.  The best place during summer months to drop off and collect children is our Harvey Street boundary.  If this is not possible please remember that no child should be left to cross roads by themselves after being dropped at school.

Nga Mihi Nui Kia Koutou

Ben Fuller

Principal

From the Principal - 19 October 2016

Kiaora Koutou

Greetings to our amazing St Mary’s community.  It is great to see that we are well into spring with summer not too far away.  This of course signals a change in sporting codes and it is great to see so many children taking advantage of the amazing opportunities St Mary’s has to offer.  Please join me in thanking our new Sports Coordinator Steve Finlayson for the remarkable job he is doing.
Uniform
New season also signals a change of uniform.  From the beginning of next week all children need to be in the summer variation of our uniform.  The main change being foot wear (black roman sandals).  It is of course, essential that all children have a sun hat from Tuesday. 

Sun Safety
Sun block will be available in classes but I would suggest applying sunblock to your child in the morning before school as an additional precaution.  As I am sure you do as parents we encourage children to manage themselves when it comes to sunscreen.  Our teachers will always give reminders but are unable to apply sun block to their entire class.
We will be reviewing our sun smart policy this term.  Look out for details so that you can contribute.

Year 5 and 6 Camp
I thouroughly enjoyed my opportunity to visit our Year 5 and 6 campers in week one of this term.  Totora Springs is an amazing facility filled with many challenges and opportunities for kids to make the most of.  Thank you to Aroha teachers for their organisation and leadership of such a successful EOTC activity and to the many parents who gave up time from work and family to support the team.

Traffic Safety
You may have noticed an increased presence from both Tauranga City Council and our local Police before and after school.  I have been working with both Angela Joyce of TCC and Emma Buxton of the New Zealand Police to refine traffic management proceedures around our school.  However, the onus sits with parents to ensure they are taking the utmost care when driving around our school.  It has been extremely disturbing to see parents dropping children on the oppostie side of 13th Avenue and expecting them to cross the street unsupervised.  This is an extremely dangerous practise and one that should be avoided at all times.
Please ensure you have plenty of time to park your vehicle appropriately and accompany your child to our school gate.

St Mary’s Pasifika Group
On behalf of our school community I would like to wish the students and parents of our Pasifika group all the best for their upcoming performance at the Bay of Plenty Schools Pasifika Festival being held at Te Aku Ki Papamoa next Wednesday.  Congratulations to all involved for the work you have done leading up to this festival.

No Fireworks Gala in 2016
As previously communicated we are not holding our Fireworks Gala this year.  The reasons, as explained at an earlier date, relate to a variety of factors including work required around meeting new health and safety requirements.  It is my understanding that our PTA hope to do more work in regard to this and stage our Fireworks Gala once again in 2017.

Tauranga Moana Ra Whakangahau Kapa Haka Festival 2016
Thank you to those who have expressed an interest in being a part of this amazing 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.

2017 Enrolments
A reminder to all who have children turning 5 next year or know of families whose intention it is to attend St Mary’s at any time during 2017 please ensure enrollment procedures are started as soon as possible.
End of Year change of date
Our last day of school will now be Thursday 15 December, with our End of Year School Prizegiving being held on Wednesday 14 December.

New Families to St Mary’s
In closing I would like to personally welcome the following students to St Mary’s since my last newsletter;
Alexis Cardey, Leah Cunningham, Evie Dumbleton, Coco Jacobs, Aaniya Jithu, Connor Kenny, Rex Lu, Elliot Olsen, Johann Shijo, Bethany Stowers, Palmy Townsend, Lola Verran, Zara Willers.
I look forward to welcoming you officially at our New Families liturgy next week.
Nga Mihi Nui Kia Koutou

Ben Fuller
Principal

From the Principal - 17 November 2016

Kia ora Koutou Katoa

Greetings whanau, parents and friends of our St Mary’s community.   A very special welcome to Noah Askin and Shadow Yue who have started school recently. 
This is a dynamic time for our school with many events and activities of importance, significance and value apparent.  The end of the year is always a busy time and one for celebration but the month of November 2016 is currently taking this notion to the extreme.  From my perspective such factors epitomises what makes our school such a great community to be apart of.
On Sunday we celebrated our termly Parish School Mass.  My thanks to Father Stuart for his enthusiasm and commitment to our school and our Parish while Father Mark is away.  It was great to see so many families and students attending Mass as a community.

This week has marked two events of significance.  At time of writing we are in the concluding stages of our Education Office Review.  As Principal I am extremely proud of the efforts, from teachers, support staff, students, board members and parents, that have gone into presenting St Mary’s as the special learning institution that we all know it is.  Feedback to date has been extremely affirming and I look forward to being able to celebrate the final report with our school community.
My thanks to those parents and whanau who attended the special liturgy we held for our visiting Cluny Sisters on Monday.  This week a number of Cluny Religious from around the world have been meeting to discuss key aspects of leadership and governance in their own Cluny Retreat Centre.  Having them present in our school has reinforced the place St Mary’s holds in the wider Cluny family and has again made us extremely thankful of the Charism we have been both gifted and get to utilise for the benefit of our students.

In looking ahead to next week we are of course excited at the prospects of hosting the 2016 Tauranga Moana Ra Whakangahau Kapa Haka Festival.  A notice was sent home last night and there is more information within this Newsletter re: the Festival and the encouragement for all to attend during the course of the two days if you are able.  It may be a little early for celebration but I would like to thank the many volunteers and whanau who have been contributing to the leadership and organisation of the event and those who are making themselves available to help in a variety of roles over the two days.  Our combined efforts will no doubt make for a memorable Festival.  Mauri Ora!

Traffic Next Week
Traffic in and around our area over the two days will of course require careful consideration of all.  To help manage the traffic around our school we are operating a park and ride service from Memorial Park, however, it would be advisable to take extra care when collecting and dropping off students.  The eastern end of Harvey Street will also be closed to traffic from 8am until 3pm so please make sure you allow plenty of time to park appropriately and accompany students to and from your cars.

2017 Enrolments
A reminder to all who have children turning 5 next year or know of families whose intention it is to attend St Mary’s at any time during 2017 please ensure enrolment procedures are started as soon as possible.

End of Year change of date
Our last day of school will now be Thursday 15 December, with our End of Year School Prizegiving being held on Wednesday 14 December.

Pacifika Festival
I was very proud and privileged to witness the St Mary’s Samoan Group perform at the Pacifika Festival held recently at Arataki School.  I congratulate you for practising every week for most of the year to perform at the Festival.  Thank you to Charlie and Ati Aaifou-Olive for sharing your Samoan culture with us and keeping it alive in our school community.

Jump Jam
In conclusion I would like to congratulate our three Jump Jam teams who performed recently at the North Island Championships at Baycourt.  A first and two seconds!  You were wonderful ambassadors and outstanding performers for St Mary’s.  We all know that you have worked so hard perfecting your routines with your many practices, giving up your weekends and sometimes even coming to school very early in the morrning.  That’s great dedication and commitment! Congratulations to you all! 
Of course a very BIG thank you must go to Kim Artus, coach extroadinaire, for his passion and enthusiasm for Jump Jam and for our school.  Thank you Kim.

Nga Mihi Nui Kia Koutou
Ben Fuller
Principal

From the Principal - 13 September 2016

Kiaora Koutou

Greetings to our wonderful school community.  A very special welcome to Emelia Allen, Lucia Allen, Bethany Stowers and Abby Moore, who have joined us since our last newsletter.  

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Korea and meet with families of students interested in studying at our school.  It was great to both promote our school within another country and also to connect with the culture from which our many Korean families and students come from.  I was impressed with the level of hospitality afforded by the Korean people and look forward to welcoming some of those I met with to St Mary’s either next, or in following years.

Next term sees our Aroha team start with a camp which I know all are looking forward to.  We are also hosting the Tauranga Moana Ra Whakangahau Festival which will be the highlight community event for the term.  In week 6 we welcome the Education Review Office to our school and we will of course look forward to summer sporting codes getting underway.  A busy and exciting term is on the way.

PTA Quiz Night
Congratulations to our amazing PTA for the hosting of yet another successful fund raising event.  I am reliably informed that once again it was the St Mary’s Staff who topped the ‘assisted competitive’ section of the night (lucky for them) but of course the benefits of the night are in the funds raised for students.  Once again the night brought in excess of $10,000 which will make a substantial contribution to the funding of our strategic direction.  My thanks therefore on behalf of our students and wider school community.

No Fireworks Gala in 2016
As previously communicated we are not holding our Fireworks Gala this year.  The reasons, as explained at an earlier date, relate to a variety of factors including work required around meeting new health and safety requirements.  It is my understanding that our PTA hope to do more work in regard to this and stage our Fireworks Gala once again in 2017.

2017 Enrolments
As this term draws to a close and next year beckons, it is important that we as a school are aware of any intentions to leave the area and / or our school.  Presently we have approximately 20 students on our waiting list for next year and it is important that we communicate with their families accurately in regard to a potential place.  

Likewise, as in 2016 it is likely that we will be over subscribed in regard to New Entrant numbers in the coming year.  Therefore if you have children turning 5 next year or know of families whose intention it is to attend St Mary’s at any time during 2017 please ensure enrolment procedures are started as soon as possible.

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.

Thank you to those who have expressed an interest in being a part of this amazing festival.  I will be in touch shortly with more details in regard to possible tasks you can involve yourself in. 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.

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.

For more information please see our school website, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/stmarystga.school.nz

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