South Otago High School News

2024 Newsletter

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22 March 2024 Newsletter

Kia Ora Tatou
This week as my introduction to the school assembly on Tuesday I stated that I believed that I was a positive person and would look for the positives in life and individuals even when sometimes some of our students do not live up to the school values of Respect, Excellence and Perseverance.  I then continued, saying that I had looked round the hall as I waited to speak and that I saw hundreds of awesome young people. In fact we are at standing room only capacity at the moment as we have so many students!
So, it is difficult and unpleasant to talk about some of the negative behaviour which has come into school in this first term. There have been a number of assaults and students have recorded these on their phone and then shared the videos. To be clear, this is probably about 2% of the school population. The remaining 98% do not engage in this behaviour, in fact a number have reported the videos to staff as they are equally appalled that this is the image being presented of their school.
I have explained, Balclutha is a small community. This individuals most likely have not given permission for their behaviour to shared publicly. Those students will be known in their community and this representation is surely not what they want for their potential future employers!
I am also aware that parents have contacted both myself and other staff after seeing these videos. My advice is to report these videos to the social media platform that they are being shared on and also to block them. This sends a message to the platform to remove this unwanted content. There will be significant consequences for students who create and share such negative videos.
As Principal, I have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff. The school and Board of Trustees are taking these behaviours seriously with the appropriate disciplinary procedures being implemented during this week.
I concluded the assembly by saying that in eight years of being principal of South Otago High School this is only the second time I have had the need to hold a negative assembly. Disappointingly, this is the first time I have needed to start my newsletter with a similar negative message which is directed to such a tiny proportion of the school. It is important to emphasise that 98% of our students are truly awesome.
Cell phones, away for the day
The policy is now in place!
Frustratingly, our security pouches have not yet arrived despite being ordered in good time. I suspect that the company may be attempting to fill a lot of orders throughout New Zealand and Australia! So, we have been placing phones in the front office until the pouches arrive. On the wholes students have accepted this slight change well. It was disappointing that on Monday there were about 20 phones to be collected by the end of the day! However, by Tuesday, there was less than 10 and as I write this message there are just two phones (and it is the afternoon!)
Whilst it is early days, I do appreciate the efforts that whanau and students are making so as to minimise the disruption caused by not meeting these new expectations.
We have found that some students that have been using the phone and will need to adjust how they work. For example, to check a bank balance before a purchase at the canteen. This will need to be done before school! Others to check the time, they need a wrist watch although we are going to purchase clocks for all classrooms.
Taireri Interchange
This week we hosted the first of our interchanges with Taieri College. I know that these events are always enjoyed by students and Wednesday was no exception.
Covid and winter illness
During the last week we have had significant absence in particular with staff illness. On Tuesday we were at tipping point where we almost at the point of not being able to run all classes. In the coming months we may need to resort to rostering a year group home for a day or more if we are not able to supervise all classes. If this need arises a message will be sent by text and on the school Facebook account as soon as practicable. We acknowledge that this can be an inconvenience and it will be a last resort. Other actions may include limiting some of our out of school activities.
As whanau, please help by keeping unwell students at home and following the health advice for covid infections.
The date for the Senior Night of the Ball has been set as Friday 10 May. As details are finalised more information will be shared with our community. However, it is timely to remind students and whanau of our expectations prior to the event. In summary they are:
Students who wish to purchase tickets are required to:

Have an attendance rate of at least 80%
A positive pastoral record for the year
No outstanding debts payable to the school prior to purchase of tickets. (This does not include ‘donations’ which are voluntary)
ANZAC events
ANZAC Day will fall, once again, during the school holiday. The school will mark this significant event in New Zealand’s history with a special assembly on Thursday 11 April, prior of the end of term. Further details of this event will be shared in future newsletters.
This weekend is the first of two long weekends. I do hope that the weather is kind and that you all have a good break. I am aware that as the term goes on students are tired (as are the staff too). These long weekends are a time to rest and catch up on some sleep, in preparation for the final full week of the term.

This will be my newsletter item for this term as I will be taking leave to participate in some extended professional development which was planned in 2023. In my absence, Nigel Scarth will be acting principal for the final three weeks of the term. I will take this opportunity to wish all in our community a safe and happy holiday.
Ka kite ano

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