Weekly News Term 2|Week 3

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

 It was a real privilege to welcome Old Girls, past families, current families, staff and supportive members of our wider community into the Chapel on Tuesday night, to launch the Building Heart Campaign. 

 It was a very positive and affirming evening, with a positive vibe and a shared enthusiasm and passion for the school. I would like to take this moment to acknowledge our sponsors, Brent and Lada Chirnside from Fresh Choice Roslyn, who generously provided the refreshments for the evening.

 We are excited about the Building Heart Campaign, and all the possibilities it presents.

What is it, and what are we fundraising for? These are challenging times for all schools, and St Hilda’s is no different. To ensure our St Hilda’s graduates have the skills and attributes they need to thrive in, and contribute to, the world, we want them as the school prayer says to ‘flourish and abound’! I can think of no better way to say it! And so we are really focusing on providing them with the best education we can – and a big part of that is to have modern, future focused facilities that allow us to teach as our girls need to learn.

We have been lucky that over our 123 year history, families and individuals have generously donated funds to be used to maintain, improve and upgrade our school facilities and programmes. We have also been very fortunate that we have not had to do any major fundraising since 1996, when the gymnasium was built. But just as our past families gave back in order to secure the school facilities that we enjoy today, we now need to dig deep to continue to provide a school with the values, Special Character, and educational excellence that we are known for.

You will see the Arts Centre currently being constructed – this facility will allow us to transform our teaching and learning programmes, and give every St Hilda’s girl an arts education. Not because everyone aspires to be an artist, dancer, actor or musician, but because an arts education involves learning how to collaborate with others, expressing yourself, building confidence and resilience, and experiencing other cultures and perspectives. These skills are vital to success in today’s, and tomorrow’s, world and are exactly what the St Hilda’s Graduate is all about.

We are delighted that we have secured the majority of the funding for this building through the generous support of the Endowment Society, the PFA fundraising and grants. The Boards have also secured borrowings, but we are seeking to repay these as quickly as possible, to free up funding for future projects.

We now need to fit out this building with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, not just so that our girls experience a quality arts education, but so that we can also facilitate other arts groups by providing a space for performances and exhibitions, outside of our school time. Those of you with an interest in the arts in Dunedin will understand just how valuable those spaces have become. St Hilda’s has always served its community, and we hope to continue to do so.

We need all of you, our current families, to assist us with this campaign as families in the past have done previously. History and legacy is not built on a single campaign or endeavour, but rather the combined, cumulative efforts of a community with a shared vision and commitment, over time. Just as we now enjoy the results of previous fundraising campaigns that provided for the gymnasium, the library and Geraldine House, to name a few in more recent times, we now need to ensure that our facilities continue to enhance the excellent teaching and learning that takes place here every day.

Once we complete the Arts building, we will move on to raising funds for our next stage – the redevelopment of the Chapel, Whitby Hall and the Humanities next door. You are all aware that due to fire regulations, our Chapel is too small for our whole school to sit together for Chapel services and other whole school events. Currently, we cannot seat the whole school in there and have removed the furniture to fit in the people. We are not prepared to accept this long term, or give up on it.

The only option is to enlarge the Chapel to accommodate our school. We feel strongly that this is a 123 year tradition we cannot forfeit – Chapel services are a time of reflection, spiritual growth and exploration, and a place where we learn respect for traditions, cultures, each other and ourselves. In this ever-changing and frantically busy world, we cannot lose this place of quiet and calm. It really is the heart of our school.

I am delighted to announce that we are already some way to reaching our first goal. We have received ($231,000) in grants and pledges from some wonderful St Hilda’s families. We are so grateful for the support of these individuals and families. Some of our donors wish to keep their identities anonymous, but we can reveal that we have received a donation to purchase naming rights to the multi-use exhibition space in the Arts Centre. This space will be named, at our donor’s request, for Hunia Dean, who passed away last year. Hunia had been the Head of Arts for 13 years and was a much-loved and respected teacher and colleague, as well as a talented artist. We feel that naming this exhibition space for Hunia is a fitting tribute to him and his family, and we thank the donors for this opportunity to do so.

We would also like to thank Kathy Grant for her generous contribution towards our campaign and the M Guthrie Family Trust for their thoughtful donation. Their commitment is much appreciated.

We know this Campaign is ambitious – but we have always been ambitious. We are a small school at the bottom of the world, but we have always punched well above our weight. We know we have a lot of supporters and that there is a lot of goodwill out there in the community. Our Boards commissioned a Feasibility Study last year and the results were overwhelmingly positive. So we may be ambitious, but we have done our homework and we will proceed with our campaign by being considered, prepared, innovative, and also brave, because success is never guaranteed. Funnily enough, these are the same qualities we expect of our girls.

We are grateful for any assistance we receive, and will recognise it appropriately. We continue to plan for the future, with the Building Heart Campaign recognizing the importance of a collaborative effort to strengthen the legacy of this wonderful school. We will keep you updated of the various stages as we move from the vision, to the concept, to the planning of each stage, as part of the overall 20 year plan.

Jackie Barron

PPTA Strike – 29 May

PPTA has issued a preliminary notice of strike action by members for Wednesday 29 May. This will mean that all union members will be taking industrial action on this day and will not be at school.

Non union staff members will be working at school on that day but no classes will be running. Supervision will be available in the school library during normal school hours if required.

Reminder – Vietnam Cultural Tour 2020

We are planning to take a cultural tour to Vietnam in 2020.

This trip will be very similar to the trips we have previously taken and will be open to any students who will be in Year 12 or 13 in 2020. Parents are also very welcome to join the trip.

The dates for this trip will be – 7th -26th April 2020

The estimated cost for this will be $6320 (student) and $5820 (parent)

If you are going to join the trip for 2020 could you please get back to us by Monday 20 May ,if you have not already, with the following details:

Student’s Name

Student’s Year Group

Names of any other family planning to travel

Please contact me if you have any further questions. My contact email is  jmaw@shcs.school.nz

Pink Ribbon Breakfast

The Z Club is holding a Pink Ribbon breakfast on Friday 31 May (Term 2 – Week 5) at 7:30 am in the school Chapel.
The tickets can be purchased either online by filling out the form which can be accessed via the link on the St Hilda’s School Facebook page or with cash at the student office in Term 2.
Students $10.00                 Adults $20.00
All funds raised will be donated to the Breast Cancer Foundation to help women who are struggling with breast cancer and to help find a cure.
There will be plenty of yummy food and a talk from our guest speaker Heather Cunliffe who is a researcher at the University of Otago.

Come along and support this great cause – it is sure to be plenty of fun!

Extended Learning

Technology department

The Level One Design and Visual Communication class took advantage of the extended learning time last week by visiting Van Brandenburg architects.

The students were able to listen to Damien Van Brandenburg talk about their design process, inspirations and projects that are being undertaken all around the world. They were lucky enough to see a model of the proposed waterfront project for the Dunedin harbour (pictured).

The DVC students used this experience to develop a deeper understanding of the design process, technological modelling and future pathways in the design.

Pictured from left: Mr Baydon Harris, Rylee Wagteveld, Annabelle Stewart, Imogen Keeling, Sophie Masters, Olivia Brown, Ria Dennison, Brooke Callon, Alika Croot, Maia Hunter, Maia Lamb, Gabi Horo and Jessica Christie

Dunedin Reader/Writer Festival – Story building

by Lily Knox

On Friday, the Junior Writing Group walked down to Otago Girls High School to listen to two amazing authors, John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) and Markus Zusak (The Book Thief).

John Boyne told us how he was struck by inspiration for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and didn’t sleep until the first draft was finished. Although he didn’t recommend that method, he did share 16 of his favourite writing tips with us. Our favourite tip was to read, read, read!

Markus Zusak told two stories from his childhood that the audience loved: a tale of epic revenge, and the story of how he ruined Christmas. He talked about how little details enriched a story, and how the unexpected is often the best part. Both authors ended their talks with a Q+A to share more about their lives as authors.

We learnt so much and can’t wait to start writing more stories with the help of everything we learnt from John and Markus. We’d also like the thank Ms Van Rij, Mrs Almey and Mr Ross for making this trip possible.

Show Quest

41 St Hilda’s students participated in Show Quest at the Civic theatre in Invercargill on the 14th of May. We wanted to create an inclusive piece of work with the idea of exploring the world around you. We called our piece “There’s a whole world out there” as it was inspired by our Artist in Residence program. We are fortunate that our students get to see how artists get their work to ‘fly’. So we incorporated Shane Carter’s song; ‘Waiting game’, sung by Sings Hilda, using the idea of biding your time……waiting, and holding back. Contrasted by Emily Duncan’s play; ‘In Our Shoes’, promoting the idea of being adventurous, brave and having agency. Jerry Howlett’s artwork inspires the idea of looking at the world differently using a different scale. We wanted our audience to be motivated to ‘take flight’!

Special thanks to Ms Mangai, the Arts prefects, Arts subject liaisons, Trinity Maydone and Sophie Wispinski for all their creative input, in addition to Sophie Masters for the fantastic visuals.

What an evening!


Year 12 Geography Trip.

Year 12 are currently on a field trip to Mount Cook. We received this picture yesterday of the girls’ walking up the Red Tarns Track just before the weather packed in – at least they all look prepared!


Adolescence is a time of significant change, great excitement and, at times, much confusion. Click here for some tips from the experts at Hey Sigmund about how to talk to your child about their amazing, and occasionally baffling, adolescent brain.

Chapel Matters

When the shootings at the mosques in Christchurch occurred last month, students and teachers here at school – like people all over Aotearoa New Zealand – responded with compassion. In particular, we made paper doll chains to show ourselves with our arms stretched out in compassion and linked together in solidarity. The students also decorated a banner with messages of hope and love.

For the last eight years, as part of the Y12 Religious Education programme, I have invited members of the Dunedin Abrahamic Interfaith Group (DAIG) to visit the class and share their stories of what it means for them to be Jewish, Christian, or Muslim (the Abrahamic religions are the sibling religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). This is a great way to meet people from these faiths, to ask them questions about their religions and their life journeys, and to both learn about and learn from them.

So, this term, the current Y12 class were able to present the Muslim representative – Amal – with the paper doll chains and the banner to take to the mosque here in Dunedin where she worships. She was able to tell us what it was like for her, and her family and friends, on the day of the shootings, and how they have been coping since then. It was a moving experience to be able to give our items to her, and to have made a personal connection with her at this time.

Greg Hughson, a chaplain at Otago University, who has been involved with DAIG since its beginnings after 9/11, and who organises these visits with me, took a couple of photos of us!


Congratulations to Jessica Scott who broke four Otago records at the recent NZ Age Group Champs in Wellington:
Girls Open 50m Butterfly
Girls 16 years 50m Butterfly
Girls 16 years 100m Butterfly
Girls 16 years 200m Butterfly. This was a 23 year old record from 1996.

Jessica was also recently accepted into the Otago Academy of Sport Talent Accelerator Programme.

Congratulations to our year 9A Netball team for winning their grade at the Roncalli tournament over the weekend.

The following girls have made netball representative teams to play in New Zealand age groups this year.
U19B: Millie Scully, Phoebe Aburn, Abbey Cochrane, Kendra Robinson
U17A: Brooke Callon, Elora Peters, Annie Timu
U17B: Sofie Bain, Olivia Buchnan-Letts, Lily Chamberlain, Savanah Cleland, Sara Harding, Chloe Light, Molly Marsh, Murphy Scott, Dani Willsman.

Great work girls’!

Be Smart

NetballSmart has launched this great information booklet called SmartParent; How to support your Netball player.  It offers great advice which is appropriate for all codes.

Tolcarne News

At Tolcarne on Thursday, we had over 60 families come to meet us and take a tour of the grounds for our Open Day. As always, the students had decorated their doors and hallways, using balloons, streamers, and, of course, lollies so the prospective students could fill up their lolly bags for the trip home. We hope everyone had a great time and got home safety. Thank you for coming.

NZQA Digital Examinations

In 2014 and 2015 St Hilda’s took part in the Mathematics trial for the Level 1 mCAT. In 2016 History, Geography and Spanish used the NZQA trials as preparation for the November examinations (all in Level 1), and English had volunteers taking part in the Level 1 digital external examination (called a pilot). In 2017 St Hilda’s was part of a group of thirteen schools that took part of a co-managed trial using the digital format for both school examinations and the November external examinations in English at Level 1 and 2. In 2018 digital trails expanded to include Level 1 Science, Level 2 and 3 Media Studies and digital pilots in all three levels of English.

In 2019, NZQA is offering 14 subjects digitally, across NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 for the November external examinations. The subjects for St Hilda’s are Art History, Classical Studies, English, Media Studies and History.

Students voluntarily enter these digital examinations. There will be familiarisation activities provided by NZQA and our benchmark examinations will also be offered in the digital format.

A form will be sent out later this term for students to complete.


Victoria University will be holding an Information Evening in Dunedin on Tuesday 21 May. Students are welcome to bring their family and friends along to find out more about life at Victoria University of Wellington including the new Bachelor of Communication and Bachelor of MidwiferyFind out more 

UC Info Evening Otago | Hui Tairanga Ōtākou is the chance for students and their whānau to find out everything they need to know about life and study at University of Canterbury. The evening will have information sessions specific to the programmes offered at UC. These will be led by some of UC’s top academics and College Deans. Also covered is accommodation options and scholarships.
Date: Wednesday 22 May 2019
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: Otago Boys’ High School, 2 Arthur Street, Dunedin
Registration: All attendees should register via Eventbrite to secure a seat.

Reminder – Board of Trustee Elections

Board of Trustee elections will be held in June this year.  At its last meeting, the Board resolved to move to staggered elections which means that 3 of the 5 elected parent representative positions will be for the full 3 year term and 2 will be for an 18 month term.  Nominations will be called for from 10 May 2019 for both the 3 year and 18 month terms.  If you are interested in contributing to the governance of the school, please consider standing for election.  More details on the role of the Board can be obtained from the School Trustees Association website https://www.trustee-election.co.nz/.  Nomination forms will be available on 10 May 2019 and will be posted to all eligible people on the voting role.