Sunday 12th August 2018

At the recent Church Schools' Conference, Judge Mike Crosbie expressed the hope that all New Zealand students would leave school "socially and emotionally at ease." And this is our ultimate goal at McGlashan.

A well-earned rest 
A well-earned rest 

The relentless pace of Term 3 continues. Open Night and Afternoon, a winter exchange with Timaru Boys' High School, Otago Science Fair, Independence Day and the New Zealand Presbyterian Schools' Conference are behind us, and ahead we have International Languages Week and winter sports' finals. This year, McGlashan teams have made the finals in first and second rugby, first football, and first and second hockey. This is a remarkable achievement and is a testament to the ongoing work of the Sports Council whose team efforts benefit so many of our boys. I'd encourage you to attend these games if you can, the boys need as much sideline support as we can muster. 

We've heard a great deal in the media recently about schools renewing their emphasis on student wellbeing, and with our senior boys having only 48 school-days left until senior prize-giving, naturally, there is an air of nervous expectation as they prepare for a future beyond school. The holistic concept of student welfare is not new at McGlashan, nor is it some sort of revolution where it is any more critical today than it has been in the past. For a century, and especially in the last few decades, John McGlashan College has worked on strengthening the positive connections between staff and students.  We have concentrated our efforts on guiding and supporting our young men to meet life's challenges and work through them, particularly at this crucial point in their lives. 

Our partnership with parents ensures a combined, common sense approach which we continue to foster.  At times, some of my interactions involving student wellbeing have highlighted the neediness of the adult rather than the ability of the boy to face and overcome new challenges. (I tried to keep this in mind in my own parenting.) So, I continue to encourage our pupils to 'dig deep' and set realistic goals, to have big dreams, forge forward and approach their work in a rigorous way.  I am always impressed by their resilience in times of challenge and adversity which has been most apparent in Terms 1 and 2 as many boys are finding new confidence as they grow and mature.  We also, should have faith in them, and their ability to cope.  They never cease to amaze us.

The college's Presbyterian ethos is anchored by the notion of ‘education first’.  This gives us a strong ethical and faith-based foundation which can be linked with the family values that we express at McGlashan on a daily basis.  In the past year, many students have given service beyond their own needs.  They strive for personal excellence and also find time to contribute to the welfare of others, both within the college and in the community.  The selfless ideal of contributing to the wellbeing of others help builds social connectedness by giving us the realisation that we are part of something greater than ourselves.  Many of our boys are taking responsibility for their school work and behaviour, and most of this is self-driven. They do not look to others to solve their problems but show a developing ability to find another gear and build a core of independence and confidence, all of which will serve them well in the future.  I firmly believe that core psychological strength develops when we strive to push past a threshold of comfort in activities both inside and outside the classroom.  We need to encourage our boys to deal with disappointments and failures so that they see these as opportunities to learn and move forward.  We want our young men to leave McGlashan equipped with skills that will enable them to take charge of their own destiny, and I have growing confidence in the ability of our staff to prepare them for this through genuine, robust and positive relationships. 

At the recent Church Schools' Conference, dinner speaker, Judge Mike Crosbie, expressed the hope that all New Zealand students would leave school "socially and emotionally at ease." And this is our ultimate goal.  Separation and independence are developmental milestones which must be achieved before teenagers can become successful adults.  Let's keep working together to make this happen.

Neil Garry