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The ‘architectural award season’ has seen Springs/Waiōrea scoop the pool in multiple categories in the education sector beating all comers to take the NZ Institute of Architects Ted McCoy Award for Education; a Merit Award from the Property Council; a ‘silver’ from the Designers Institute of NZ for the signage used both within and outside the buildings – and now shortlisted for a Learning Environments NZ (LENZ) award to be announced this coming Thursday.  The flood of awards has invigorated the MOE to start the process and planning for the Stage 2 extension to the school.

Prizegiving season is always a joyful time here at Springs and what a magnificent turnout for our Leavers’ Prizegiving on Wednesday last week.  I always say that ‘standing room only’ is not a problem and a good look for the school.  Well, we put out 800 chairs in our new gym for this event, and every one was taken with a few visitors left around the perimeters standing!  Thank you for this affirmation of our leavers – having them all walk across the stage to receive acknowledgement as well as prizes is a wonderful affirmation for our Year 13s as they head further afield, and it is the ‘right thing to do’!  Here are my speech notes from that event:

Year 13 Leavers Event/Prize giving 2020:

Kia Ora tātou,

Welcome everyone to this very special prizegiving and celebration.  A celebration of achievement and the next steps ahead of the young people gathered here tonight. 

To our students – our Year 13 cohort, all of you. Welcome and thank you for being here with us tonight! 

To our parents, siblings, grandparents, caregivers and friends – welcome and thank you too for supporting and celebrating the successes to come this evening.

Well, team – you’ve made it!  School’s out, forever. 13 years done and dusted – except for that minor detail of a few NCEA exams coming up!  In the spirit of the Lockdown Songbook and referencing the WSC Hydration Station Instagram page I offer Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” as my song of choice.

School’s out for summer

School’s out forever

No more pencils, no more books

No more teachers’ dirty looks!

I also want to say that this event is especially poignant for me, as sitting out here in the audience are the students who were in 9MO back in 2016 – the last class that I taught and abandoned half way through the year, as I took on this job.  Only 4 have left out of the 31 there at the beginning, so a big shout out to:

Molly, Bradley, Zoe, Toby, Seina, Nami, Jamie, Briar, Harper, Ruby, Helena, Daisy, Cesarina, Solomon, Arlo, Kolbie, Paekoraha, Zane, Victor, Jane, Alia, Hanah, Nicholas, Thomas, Taylor, Joshua and Frederick.

Now, back to all of you. As a school leaver you’ll be venturing out into a world not like Alice Cooper said at all – a world of more study and/or work, and our aim at Springs/Waiorea has been to prepare you for this rapidly changing world.  

So…how have we done this?  

Rather than me telling you what I think and know, I thought I would share with you what one of our ex-students has shared with me.  Here’s what she has said:

When I was a student at Springs I don’t think I quite realised just how much of an impact it would have on my life. I thought that high school was just high school. Although I, being a girly swot, loved school, I still didn’t anticipate the impact that Springs would have on my outlook on the world and my aspirations. 

Our teachers treated us like their equals. We learned to respect and value diversity, in all its forms. It didnt matter if you werent academically inclined talent was talent. We were all part of the same community and we helped each other. We gave back where we could and we cared about things that were bigger than ourselves. In our current social climate, these values are more important than ever. These Springsvalues have shaped who I am today

When I left Springs, I went to the University of Auckland to study a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts, in English and Politics. I wasn’t sure what to do when I finished school, and I definitely didnt realise I would become a lawyer, but I guess it always made sense considering my favourite subjects at Springs were English, History and Drama. 

I graduated in 2017 and worked as a Judges’ Clerk at the Wellington High Court Te Kōti Matua. This was an amazing opportunity to work with two judges, Justice Simon France and Justice Helen Cull, doing anything and everything legal related for them.

I got to work on a wide range of cases, including Eminem suing the National Party for breach of copyright, high profile murder and manslaughter cases, and a case involving an exNaval officer suing the New Zealand and UK governments.

I’ve recently started a job as an Assistant Crown Counsel in the Criminal team at Crown Law. I work as part of the Crown prosecution network, giving advice to the SolicitorGeneral and representing the Crown in cases that are heard in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court (our two highest Courts). 

In 2018 I attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women with the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute and got to spend two weeks at the UN talking about women’s rights with women from all over the world.

My roots will always strongly lie at Springs and I often think back fondly on my years there. Whether it was nattering outside D block, performing at TAPAC, running around on the netball courts, being part of the Student Leadership team, or sitting editing movies in the Media Studies rooms. I am grateful for all of the teachers who believed in me and challenged me to do better. I made some of my best friends at Springs, and even found a fiancée there! But, Im mostly grateful for the values the school instilled in me and the confidence it gave me to pursue my passions

….and this is from a young woman just 9 years out of school!

Our mission statement says that we “equip you to share in the building of a just and sustainable society.”   Let’s get specific here – the soft skills that you take out of this school will set you up to be successful in whatever field you choose.  We all know that it’s the human factor that is so critical. As Springs graduates you are:

  • Problem solvers – figuring out how to solve things without breaking into a sweat.
  • You are critical thinkers – asking the right questions and challenging assumptions
  • You are creative, 
  • you get on well with others
  • You are emotionally intelligent – staying cool, managing stress and assertive when you need to be.
  • You are confident, making well thought out decisions
  • And you are flexible and have the mental ability to face new and unexpected things in your lives

I know that this has been the perfect place for you to discover where to go to next…and we will be hearing about that tonight as each of you walk across the stage.  

Crucially the connections you make on your life journey are critical.  The people you meet, befriend and maybe partner with will define you.  And that…here at Springs has already started.  You know it has.  

As I finish I want to acknowledge those staff who are leaving us:

We are in the very, very fortunate position of having only 4 permanent staff leaving us at this time –

  • Helen Long to be the Deputy Principal at Auckland Girls Grammar School
  • David Okey who is retiring after 22 years of service to Springs.
  • Lorrin Shortland to take up the position of HoD Te Reo Maori at Whakatane High School
  • Tianara General Wihongi to take up a position at a wananga back in the far North in Kaikohe
  • And I wish to acknowledge too, Mel Webber who is taking leave to take on the role of national president of PPTA.

I thank them, as I know you do too, for their work with our students, and the extra mile they have gone for the benefit of those in their care.  We all wish them well in their future endeavours.

(Can I ask that you acknowledge these staff, as well as all of your teachers, with a round of applause please).

I would also like to take this time to acknowledge Cyril Hicks, one of the first principals of the College on this site from 1964 to 1983.

Cyril has been attending our prizegiving every year to award the dux medal of which you will hear more of later in the ceremony.  Cyril is now 99 years old, and he may well arrive later on this evening for that presentation!!! 

As I finish, I urge you all to keep in contact and do come back to tell us what you are doing. 

It will be wonderful to see you!

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