From The Principal

This week has been a fantastic week at the college as there have been many events held that have recognised and celebrated many of our senior students who have now left and are preparing for their NCEA examinations.

We began the week with our academic prize giving on Monday evening where seniors students were recognised and celebrated for their academic success in 2023, followed by our Thanksgiving mass on Wednesday.  This was a lovely Mass which included our leaving Year 13 students performing the school haka, with the morning ending with the school forming a guard of honour from the school gym to the school gates that our leavers walked through.  As we near the end of the week, tomorrow the focus will move to welcoming our new Carmel students and their whānau who will join our Carmel College community in 2024.

I wish to acknowledge and thank the huge team at the Carmel College who, have worked to ensure that all of these events were successful in not only celebrating and recognising our students, but in that they allowed us to bring together and acknowledge our wider community of parents, families and friends who have supported our young woman.  So to the team at the college, who there really are too many to name individually, thank you for all of your time and support.  It was noticed and appreciated. 

With our senior students on study leave and now only coming into the college to sit exams or attend tutorials, although the school may feel quieter, there is a lot left in the year for our students in Years 7-10.  Year 10 camp preparations are well underway and also activity week planning for students in Years 7-9. 

A further community event I would like to highlight that is only weeks away, is the PTFA Carmel College Christmas Market on Saturday 18 November.  Last year was the first time the PTFA ran the market, which was hugely successful, seeing over 2500 people enjoy the many stalls that were on offer.  Following the success of last year we expect that this year will again see many members of our community taking part and enjoying the market.  Please keep an eye out for information regarding requests for support, including baking, jolly jars, donating goods for raffles and many other opportunities to support this fantastic event, that we hope to see many of you at.

To finish this ‘From the Principal’ message, below is the speech I gave at the senior academic prize giving.  To those leaving the school, I am confident that during your time here you have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to ensure that you are empowered to pursue your own personal excellence and are prepared to challenge and shape your future.  You are a young woman of Mercy who acts justly, loves tenderly and walks humbly with our God and we all wish you the very best for your future.

Senior Academic Prize Giving Speech

2023 began with the hope of a settled year, however weather events and cyclone Gabrielle disrupted that, with some of us being more heavily impacted than others.  There were further disruptions during Term 2 due to industrial action, and with education being a key talking point leading up to our general election, it has felt like the education sector has been in the headlines more often than not over the course of the year.  Unfortunately, this can have the effect of creating uncertainty and unsettlement for those who are at the centre of our education system, our learners. 

But through all this, our college’s core business of learning and teaching, whilst ensuring that the faith and wellbeing of those in our college and our community, continues to be at the forefront of all decisions made and at the heart of everything we do.  And so tonight we acknowledge and celebrate the academic achievements of our young woman across the 2023 academic year.

In preparing this evening’s speech, it was tempting to consider turning to AI, however I have access to something more powerful than a computer generated blurb.  Our young women’s voice.  At our final whole school assembly, our student leaders for 2023 gave their final speeches, reflecting on the year, and their year as leaders.  Each of these young women have led our school in their particular portfolio areas with dedication, perseverance and pride. 

So instead of ChatGPT, I turned to our academic leaders, Kate Sluyter and Jules Torres.  Disclaimer: I sought Kate and Jules’ permission to share this with you.

As one of New Zealand’s top-ranked secondary schools with a reputation for academic excellence, we strive to provide a supportive learning environment where students can grow at their own pace, continuously improve, and reach their full potential.  Not only does education empower us through the knowledge we gain, but it also opens up new opportunities we never thought possible so we can transform the lives of others, and ourselves.

It’s very easy to compare our successes to each other but it’s important to remember that we are all on our own journey because each and every one of us is shaped by our unique experiences and circumstances.  Not getting an award at prize giving doesn’t mean you’re not smart, and a grade doesn’t determine your worth.  Success is subjective and is influenced by your personal goals so we shouldn’t let other people control what we deem successful.

We can only hope that the messages these two leaders gave in their final speech were not only heard, but that the message resonated and will guide all of our students not only in their academic endeavours, but in all they do.  Thank you Kate and Jules; you reminded and challenged each of our students that they must have confidence in who they are and what they can do, even more so when their achievements fall outside the typical constructs of success and therefore formal acknowledgement. 

When celebrating academic success, it is also important to acknowledge those who have played a part in making this happen.

Firstly, thank you to you, our parents and whānau.  You have entrusted your daughter’s education to Carmel College, whilst supporting her through the challenges and opportunities that young women encounter as they navigate their secondary school years.  I know that parents always have a desire for their children to have more opportunities and success than they have had, and this evening you can all be very proud of what your daughter has achieved.

To our directors of Carmel College Auckland Ltd, our proprietor board, thank you.  This year there have been changes to the board and governance structures.  However, everyone around the table has a clear focus and desire to ensure all decisions are focused on providing the best for our young women here today, and in the future. 

To our Board of Trustees, thank you for your time and your commitment in the governance role you have at the college.  The skills that you all bring to the Board are valuable, and it has been exciting to work with you all as we continue to build on our foundations to ensure that our young women leave Carmel College as an empowered woman of Mercy who will challenge and shape their future.

I would also like to thank the senior leadership team.  To Mrs Karen Mitchell, Mrs Siobhan Harrod, Ms Rosanna Fouhy, Mr Graham Atkinson, and Mrs Liz Walker, along with Ms Deb Goudie and Mrs Claudia Officer – thank you for your continued support, guidance and dedication to the leadership and management of our school.

To the teaching and support staff at the College, thank you.  To our support staff, you keep the school humming.  Behind the scenes we have a wonderful team assisting with things from finance to admin, from property and assisting students with learning needs to supporting our international students, and those students who require emotional, wellbeing and mental support.  Thank you for your time and commitment supporting our teachers and students so they can focus on their core roles of learning and teaching.

And to our teachers.  It is you who are there working directly with our students, helping them to not only learn content and be prepared for assessments, but it is you, walking alongside them, helping them to navigate their day to day lives. 

Whilst our day to day focus is on the learning and teaching, we know our students won’t remember what was taught to them during period 3 on Tuesday last week, but they will remember that it was you who taught them and you who worked with them, supported and guided them to ensure that they achieved their personal academic best.  Thank you for all your efforts this year.

And, to our students who we are acknowledging and celebrating this evening.  Congratulations for making the most of your 2023 academic year.  Thank you for striving for your personal academic excellence, for being a part of and contributing to our school community.  To those leaving, during your time at Carmel, you have become a young woman of Mercy who is empowered to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.  May you continue to always pursue your personal excellence in all you do, with the confidence to challenge and shape your future.