Strata The ACG Strathallan Magazine TERM 4, 2019
Aladdin Last term the senior primary school students were lucky enough to take part in our school production of Aladdin. Many students attended auditions, eager for a role, although as Chelsea Burns also noted, it was a nerve-wracking process which “made you kind of shy.” Once the cast was chosen, the weeks of rehearsals began, with music specialist Jo Molyneux and theatre legend Sarah McDowall working with principal actors to help them memorise their lines and deliver them with flair and stage presence. Senior School teacher, Natalie Harbott, lent her expertise choreographing the dance routines, while Tayla McCamish worked with a group of senior art students to begin the creation of a stage set that would have the audience buzzing before the Narrator had even stepped on stage to introduce the show. Students had so many opportunities to be involved in the show and loved being part of it all. Madeline Bamola said that after all the practices, her favourite part was to be able
to get into costume and perform in front of an audience; Ella Kidd loved being able to spray paint gold bars and try art techniques she’d never done before; Sam Chen loved the designing process and being able to work with new people and Lewis Burson, playing Prince Duh-doo-run-run, loved being in character and “being somebody else.” From the opening flutter of scarves, to the senior school encore of A Whole New World, this was truly a remarkable performance with the laughter and energy of the audience serving only to increase the delivery of the lines on stage. Aladdin was performed over three shows to rambunctious, well-deserved applause and will certainly be something that the students will remember for years to come.
SPORT, ACTIVITIES, THE ARTS
The Joy of Reading In a world where YouTube, memes and apps seem to be taking over, we find that the vibrant vocabulary and thought-provoking expressions found in novels are being discarded from everyday use in favour of more simple language.
Druinie Perera speaks to our Primary School parents
Primary school children are read to by year 9 students “Astonishing, astounding and bewildering” are far more evocative than “good” and “Behind every cloud, there’s a silver lining” sounds far more sympathetic than “You’ll get over it.” But how will our children learn these without experiencing the joy of reading? The importance of reading books to help us learn and understand cannot be underestimated. It develops our thoughts, promotes curiosity, stimulates the imagination, improves our reading comprehension and helps build our vocabulary. In fact, if you read just 15 minutes a day, in one year you will have read over 1,000,000 words. At Strathallan, we have always placed great importance on literacy in our academic programmes and encouraging effort in reading is a critical part of this. In the College, we provide SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) time in our junior English lessons, a daily routine that is important in building critical skills to support learning. Literacy expert, Steve Gardiner, equates SSR to training for a long distance run; you don’t build your skills as a runner without regular training. Parents can also support this at home by encouraging their children to read in their own free time. Better still, parents could model the act of reading, as by seeing adults read children are
more likely to become readers themselves, creating a lifelong rewarding habit and building their confidence and skills. The primary school has also had a focus on reading recently, hosting a talk with guest speaker Druinie Perera, who is an expert in this field. According to teacher, Cherie BoucherCunningham, Perera “took our parents through practical ways to motivate, inspire, and support their children to read – regardless of age, reading level, or ability. She spoke of the importance of encouraging effort and enjoying reading with and to children on a regular basis. One of her best pieces of advice from the evening was to encourage parents to remember that learning is not a race and that there is no finish line.” After Perera spoke, the teachers shared practical reading materials that parents could take away with them. Children’s author and this year’s winner of the Carnegie medal, Geraldine McCaughrean, expressed her thoughts on reading regularly by stating that “words are mastered by meeting them, not by avoiding them, and young readers should be bombarded with words like gamma rays, steeped in words like pot plants stood in water, pelted with them like confetti, fed on them like Alphabetti spaghetti, given Hamlet’s last resort: ‘Words. Words. Words.’” So, let’s not waste any time. Let’s get them reading!
Communication: More than just words As parents we eagerly anticipate our baby’s first milestones, one of which is often hearing their first words. Children, however, move through these with very individual abilities and within Ā Tōnu wā, their own time. Even before first words emerge, infants and toddlers are communicating through their own forms of body language and gesture to us. Tuning in to these attempts at communicating and using sign language as an additional mode of communication with your baby can provide another way for your child to express their needs and desires while their verbal language is still developing. Responding effectively and respectfully through signs also has the potential to deepen bonds and affirm your baby’s sense of belonging and well-being. New Zealand sign language is one of three official languages of our country alongside Māori and English and is also recognised as a valued form of communication within our Early Childhood Curriculum, Te Whāriki. With this and current
research in mind, the Strathallan nursery teachers have begun using basic signs alongside verbal languages with the infants and toddlers in our room and we are already seeing the benefits. Sign language has been creating new communication opportunities for both babies and our teachers as well as supporting communication development throughout the children’s varying cultures, ages and abilities. This has had an empowering effect for everyone. Head Teacher Catherine adds “The children are participating well both in signing and speaking the karakia. They watch us teachers and say and sign ‘Thank you’ at the end, causing them all to give themselves a round of applause”. Our families also recently participated in a survey and the ongoing feedback has been very positive. One parent, TJ Patel shares: “I think sign language is so important, especially for children under two. Meera has learnt sign language to communicate with us which is great and has been using it at home. It really has opened up the communication between us. She is relating language to the signs now from what she is learning in the nursery. It is so great!” In collaboration with our parents and whanau, we continue to shape the curriculum for our infants and toddlers in the nursery. As teachers, we are excited to be supporting our very youngest on their learning journey and seeing them moving on to the junior room as confident and effective communicators, building connections and developing their first friendships. With some of our families also beginning to use the signs at home now too, the potential is very exciting! ACADEMIC
Cambodia Community Service Tour Cambodia is popular for being an exotic destination where you can visit ancient temples and beautiful palaces or relax at a sun-drenched beach resort. However, you can also travel there for a more fulfilling purpose and that is to serve the large community of people who have been severely affected by the strife caused by the Pol Pot regime. This is the sort of trip our junior students had the chance to go on accompanied by Mrs Hamilton and Mr Thomas. Jasmine Kearns and Lauren Aylward shared their experiences with us: In the July holidays, eighteen students had the incredible opportunity to travel to Cambodia to complete a community service tour with the Antipodean Expedition company. We travelled across the country and saw some amazing sights. Part of our trip was to work on a project in a remote village. On the afternoon we arrived at the Kampong Kleang village, we went directly to see where we would be doing our project. We travelled there by tuk-tuk to discover a simple school which was a tin barn-style classroom with a dirt floor and no equipment apart from small wooden desks. Behind the school was a single building for a squat toilet, and our job was to start building another toilet next to it. Unfortunately, we were only able to start work half a day later because of rain so instead, we went to the primary school to spend time with the children. This turned out to be an exciting experience because we got to interact and play with them. While we were able to teach some English, they taught us some of their language too. 04
LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE
To complete the project, there were several tasks. We started with moving the raw materials to the side of the school. This was a strenuous job because it entailed climbing a steep hill carrying hundreds of bricks. Halfway through the day, when the Cambodian students were having their lunch break, they abandoned their soccer game, grabbed their bikes and rushed down the hill to help us move the rocks and sand. Their enthusiasm meant that half an hour later, the job was nearly done, and they all were wearing massive smiles on their faces. Once that was completed, we started to dig the hole where the toilet block would stand. Drink breaks were frequent as the temperature was a steady 35 degrees Celsius. Finally, the bricks were laid to make the base of the toilet block. When we got back to New Zealand, we saw photos of the completed toilet block and it looks great. It made us feel fortunate that we were able to support a community in a small yet significant way. An unexpected result of the trip was making friends with the other Strathallan students, most of whom we see every day but had never socialised with before. Now, however, we share a common experience which has developed into a lasting friendship.
ICT USA 2019 During the July holidays, fifteen fortunate ICT students went on an incredible trip to the USA. Besides the obvious cultural experience, they were also able to visit several key attractions that the country has to offer. Klaudia Severn, one of the teachers who accompanied them, shared their adventure with Strata: Our first stop was Houston where the students visited The NASA Johnson Space Centre. Whilst there, they had the opportunity to visit the Starship Gallery, home to multiple spacecrafts and national treasures; explore a comprehensive collection of spacesuits once worn by the men and women on space exploration; enter a replica of the shuttle Independence, mounted on top of the historic and original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft, and then explore the giant plane. Discovering and learning about the amazing way in which technology has been used was a true treat for these students. The next major destination was Seattle, where the students got to visit and view the impressive Boeing factory and observe the 747s and the 787s being produced. As the largest manufacturing plant in the world, it certainly left a “wow” factor. Seattle also provided other amazing attractions like the Space Needle observation tower, the Mo-Pop Art museum and the Ferris Wheel at Pier 57. We then went on to San Francisco, taking in the sights of the Golden Gate Bridge from a bike ride across the bridge and Alcatraz which provided an insight to how the inmates lived on the island and how they escaped. There was also The Exploratorium Museum which offered students exhibits that provide an ongoing exploration of science, art and human perception that feed your curiosity. A highlight for the students was also attending the San Francisco Giants versus The Cardinals at the AT&T Baseball Park where, sadly, the SF Giants took a loss. A tour was taken around Silicon Valley where we could see the major IT companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, and we were also able to visit the “Genius Bar” outside the Apple campus. The Intel Museum also provided interesting insight to how the microchip was developed and the manufacturing process of the “biscuits”. No visit to the US would be complete without a stop at the shopping mall which provided some well-deserved down time from a busy schedule, filling up their suitcases for their return trip home. As can be expected, the trip did have some interesting challenges such as lost baggage, but the students all looked after each other and were an absolute pleasure to chaperone by Mr Scott and myself. EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
Sports Highlights Strathallan has had an outstanding year in sport for 2019. Excelling as teams and as individuals, our students have won great honours in their specific categories. We would like to congratulate them all on these awesome achievements and wish them continued success for next year. Here are just some of the highlights of the year: Netball: Y7&8 Girls - 2nd Auckland Competition and Premier team - 3rd in the Counties Manukau Netball Competition Hockey: 1XI Boys - runners-up in the Counties Manukau Hockey Secondary Schools Competition Equestrian: Mackenzie Sim, Sachleen Kaur, Tannah Johnston and Eden Doull won the Overall Winners Trophy at the St Peters College Dressage competition; Alexia Thomas represented New Zealand at the 2019 Australian Championships in Sydney winning National Bronze Champion High Point Rider. 1XV Rugby
Rowing: Michael Kong and Jacob Kearns - 3rd in the NISS Championship, Gold at NZ National Club champs Football: 1XI Girls - 1st Counties Senior B Competition Swimming: Luke O’Connor - Gold Medal U13 100m Freestyle NZ National Age Groups Championships; Libby Murphy - Franklin Junior Sportsperson Award, 3rd in the 200m butterfly NZ National Age Groups Championships. Athletics: Siobhan Ball - Auckland Athletics Girls U14 Auckland Athlete of the Year and finalist in the Franklin U16 Junior Sports Award.
1XI Girls Football
Trampoline: Katelyn Daniel - NZ National Secondary Schools Championships A grade Trampoline 1st place champion, 2nd Open Junior Women’s Trampoline at AIMS Games; Nikita Nicholl-Jones won gold at the New Zealand Trampoline Championships Artistic Gymnastics: Katelyn Daniel - 2nd place – Step 4 College Sports Auckland Artistic Championships, 3rd Open Junior Women’s Tumbling at AIMS Games High Jump: Daniel Tilsley 1st High Jump Counties Zones and Auckland Champs, competing at Nationals in December Rugby: 1XV - 2nd Counties Manukau Rugby Competition
1XI Boys Hockey Team
SPORT, ACTIVITIES, THE ARTS
Karate: Connor Byrne, Charlie McDougall and Mu-Chien Lee represented New Zealand at the World Goju Ryu Karate champs in Malaysia
Year 7 & 8 Netball
Double Scull – Michael Kong and Jacob Kearns
Building Resilient Teens It is impossible to go through life never experiencing pain, hardship, loss or disappointment. More and more our young people face challenging situations that they must overcome. Resiliency is the skill to being able to bounce back from adversity, adapt to a new path and find the open window when the door has closed. Resiliency is a vital skill for our teens to learn and there are several reasons why. Students who acquire and develop this skill have fewer absences from school and are less likely to participate in risk-taking behaviours such as smoking, excessive drinking and drug-taking. Also, they tend to show a desire to involve themselves more in family and community activities and have better physical health. So how do we teach this vital skill? Trying to eliminate all risks your child may face and avoiding all conflict through accommodating their every need greatly inhibits their ability to develop resilience. Kids must make mistakes. In fact, we all must. It is how we learn, and it is how we begin to adjust and recover from difficulties. Practical things like teaching children patience, taking the family on a challenging outing – such as a hike – or getting your child to enter a competition
such as the Weetbix Kids’ Triathlon, all create opportunities for learning how to persevere and overcome trials. Developmental psychologist Dr Marilyn Price-Mitchell states that ‘children who develop resilience are better able to face disappointment, learn from failure, cope with loss and adapt to change. We recognise resilience in children when we observe their determination, grit and perseverance to tackle problems and cope with the emotional challenges of school and life.’ As a school, Strathallan has many opportunities for students to learn resilience and, through our Tutor Group programme, we highlight the importance of it and generate discussion about how and why people need to be able to withstand hardship. One of the best ways that students learn resilience at school, however, is when they find a subject challenging, when their sports’ team sometimes has to face a loss, or when friendships become fractious. This is when they begin to understand the importance of grit and resiliency. No one likes failure, rejection or things not going their way, but for our students, these challenges will help them to deal with difficulties more easily when they mature into adults. So, the next time a catastrophe arises, encourage your child to see the setback as a learning opportunity. As the great French playwright Molière said, ‘The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it’.
Inspired Changes Ahead It was no surprise that the Inspired Education Group wanted to partner with ACG Strathallan and on the 4 June this year we joined a global network of premium independent schools. Inspired schools share a philosophical approach to education that advocates for a student-focused, holistic approach, where students are encouraged to discover their unique strengths and passions in academia, sports, and the performing and creative arts. However, it would be fair to say that the initial announcement was met with some trepidation by staff, students and parents alike. The initial concern about what this partnership might mean for Strathallan was unfounded and there are several exciting changes in store for 2020 and beyond. The first and most obvious advantage of being part of a global network of schools is the ability to collaborate with students and teachers from around the globe. Strathallan students will have the opportunity to participate in a Global Exchange Programme, with a range of unique opportunities to explore new environments, improve language skills, make new friends and experience new cultures. There are over 30 schools based in Europe, Latin America and Africa that students will be able to choose from and it will provide them with an experience that will allow them to develop their understanding of other cultures and an appreciation of the world around them. Like Strathallan, Inspired schools place a strong emphasis on academic achievement and from next year onwards, we will change the approach we use to assess students in their core subjects in Year 7 – 10. Summative assessments currently take place at the end of a unit of work and at times this can result in a number of assessments being completed in the same week. From January next year, these tests will be scheduled in a 50-minute block, every Wednesday from 12.25pm-1.15pm. Throughout the course
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of the year, Year 7 to 10 students will take part in a weekly rotation of tests in their core academic subjects: English, Mathematics, Science and Social Science. This weekly testing, or Common Assessment Tests (CATs), will allow students to be better prepared for their tests, develop good study habits and provide an opportunity to practise a range of study techniques in order to discover efficient methods of revision. Public speaking will be introduced as a distinct subject next year in Year 7-9. The English curriculum has always included a unit on public speaking, but from next year onwards, it will be an explicit programme that is taught continuously throughout the year. The ability to speak confidently and with purpose is such an important skill and this will be a welcome addition to our English programme. The recent announcement of the ‘Inspired by Berklee’ curriculum is a clear indication of the emphasis placed on developing music, dance and theatre at all Inspired Schools. Strathallan has been selected as one of the schools to be part of the pilot programme with Berklee College of Music and we look forward to introducing this exciting curriculum in 2020. Dance will also be introduced next year as part of the Drama programme in Years 7-9 and we have appointed a dance specialist to develop this area of our curriculum. All of our arts subjects help students to develop the creative skills and mindsets needed to succeed, lead, and innovate now and in the future. Inspired Education Group’s core philosophy of providing students with an exceptional education that inspires them to achieve their maximum potential is very much in line with our own vision here at Strathallan. Their global outlook will also ensure that we offer a future-ready programme of learning that will equip students with the knowledge and skills to be confident, well-rounded citizens with an international mindset.
Danny O’Connor Executive Principal
The official magazine for ACG Strathallan