Thursday, November 13, 2008

Senior Prize-giving 13 November 2008

E te atua kaha rawa
Tenei te tuku mihi ki a koe
Nga mate, haere, haere, haere atu ra
Te maunga tapu o Taranaki
Mihi mai, karanga mai
Nga manuhiri, nau mai, haere mai
Ki tenei kura tua-rua o Whakaahurangi
Ki te whanau whanui o Whakaahurangi
Tenei te tuku mihi ki a koutou ma
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa

A very warm greeting to you all – The extended family of Stratford High School.
It is with much pleasure that I present my annual address to the school community at our senior prize-giving.

The early focus this year was on re-establishing our values and vision in the Stratford Way acronym. To refresh your memories:

The S in Stratford stands for Safety (a safe learning environment for all).
T for Team (all moving in the same direction)
R for Respect (for others, for yourself, and for authority)
A for Articulate (use manners – speak and write well)
T for Tradition (we value effort/ excellence/ never give up)
F for Focus (seize the moment)
O for Order (Firm/ Fair and friendly)
R for Restore (make amends – say sorry/ do the right thing)
And finally the Stratford Way is completed by D for Dreams

Having a Dream and following it to its conclusion is a key attribute that I hope all of you can relate to and action throughout your lives. Luckily dreams don’t have to come true by age 20 or 30 or 40 or 50. They can occur long past when you thought they were possible.

You will all no doubt remember the phenomenal feats of Michael Phelps in the Beijing Olympics this year. Phelps won a record 8 gold medals and when asked by a NZ TV crew for his advice to young New Zealanders he said, “Dream big!”

Another famous American -Henry David Thoreau - agrees with him. Thoreau said “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined”.

The SHS slogan ‘Staying local, going far’ has this sentiment at its heart as well. The great thing about all three statements (Dream big, live the life you’ve imagined, go far) is that they are actually all easy to do, they are adaptable and, in the creation stages, they cost nothing . In a year of financial turmoil in the world this is handy thing is it not! As Lyteshar knows dreams do have a cost, however when put into action. But it is a cost that we have to be willing to bare to see them through and I’m not talking about dreams of winning Lotto, each week paying money and trusting in blind chance here.

The dreams I’m alluding to are things like representing your country in sport like Lyteshar Drewery, climbing Mt Everest like Sir Edmund Hilary, touring the world as a dancer like Shanelle Beazely, making it on the world stage like the Flight of the Conchords, being a Y13 leader like James and Maggie, organising Manu Koroero/ Pae Rangitahi in Stratford like whaea Tina, becoming bigger than Elvis like John Lennon, successfully gaining an apprenticehip like Jamie Henderson, or gaining an excellence endorsement in NCEA in the coming external examinations. These are the types of big dreams I’m talking about.

Some of us let great dreams die while others nourish and protect their dreams through bad days, moments of hardship and failure. My plea to you this afternoon, especially the senior students who are saying goodbye to SHS, is to hold on tight to your dreams. Those of a certain age will recall those words from a song by The Electric Light Orchestra. I mention this in passing as I must surely be the first Principal in history, brave enough to quote them in a prize-giving speech.

This afternoon we are celebrating all students at Stratford High School. Some will win cups and certificates but all who come to this school are encouraged to dream big. When you do so you risk failure. Sometimes you don’t succeed and at such times you have to stand firm and find the inner self discipline and resolve to never give up, never surrender. I have a lot of admiration for all of you here today who have stayed in school, and risked something every day. You are the ones willing to take the risk of failure. Those students who give up or who choose not to attend regularly risk nothing. It is easier to do nothing and blame others, than it is to try something and possibly fail.

To the leavers - Be proud of who you are and where you come from. Be proud of who you are and where you are going.

To those who are returning next year. Take up the risks and challenges of success.

As with any end of year prize giving, there are people to thank and farewell. Mrs Buis, Mrs Harris, Mrs Rawlinson will not be returning in 2009. They will be continuing their dreams and doing their tuckshop duty in other schools. Thank you for your much valued contributions to the school and for helping students towards their dreams. My personal thanks to Lesley Harris for patiently helping me with my Year 11 English class. You’re a good egg!

The members of the Parent Teacher Association
and the Board of Trustees give up a lot of time
to attend meetings and functions throughout the year.
I would like to thank each of them, on behalf of the community,
for their dedication and commitment to the school.

Raewyn Rooney, the Chairperson of the Board of trustees decided not to stand as chair this year but remains a much valued Board member. We cannot let her leave the position without expressing our thanks for her work in that role. Our new Board chair, Pete Theron, has had to juggle commuting to Australia in the second half of the year. His dedication to SHS has remained undimmed throughout. I marvel at his capacity for trans Tasman flights and I value his advice and resolve to continuously improve life at SHS for staff and students.

My thanks to the senior management team - Phil, Maria, and Barbara. I can’t think of any of our meetings this year that haven’t contained your collective wisdom, pragmatism, and an awful lot of laughter. It is a privilege to work with you.

Many generous people are behind each one of our many successes this year and the staff’s on-going commitment and good humour
should never be taken for granted. The staff at this school are amazing in their dedication. They work extremely hard and are constantly looking for better ways of doing things in order to ensure all the students can succeed. Our students are fortunate indeed to come to school each day and be served by such a talented team of professionals. To the support staff and the teaching staff, on behalf of the parents and students – thanks and congratulations on an excellent year.

My special thanks goes to the ladies in my life. My office is surrounded by dedicated and extremely fun people. Thank you Diane for your fantastic support, Thank you Suzie for the quips, jokes, and newspaper cuttings whenever Chelsea fluke a win against Arsenal.

Thank you to my daughters Samantha and Jade and to my wife Jacky. You make many sacrifices on my behalf and share my dreams with me. In the words of the great sports agent Dicky Fox:– "Hey I don’t have all the answers. In life to be honest I’ve failed as much as I’ve succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life and I wish you my kind of success".

As 2008 draws to a close
I would like to end my speech by wishing seniors good luck for the externals
with a Celtic blessing
and with a wish for everyone to experience peace and joy
during the coming Christmas holiday:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rain fall soft upon your field.
And until we meet again
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

1 comment:

Barry Bachenheimer said...

A fabulous speech-- inspiring, cheering, and heartfelt. Well done.