BIG Changes!

Someone once said that resistance to change is like stopping breathing – if you succeed, you’re dead!  It’s just as well we are all very much alive and kicking on our school campus because there is just one constant, and that’s change.  We are GOOD at change though, because we have plenty of experience with it!

From Friday 28 January 2010, Te Whānau o Tupuranga and Clover Park Middle School cease to exist in their own separate worlds and merge to become a new ‘special-character’ secondary school for Years 7 to 13 students, called Kia Aroha College.  This is a major change from the outside, but inside the campus it’s a continuation of what we have been doing for a very long time – but now our older Pasifika students get to stay right through to Year 13 as well.

The details of why this is happening and how it will work are well documented on our new Kia Aroha College website, so there is no need to repeat them here.  However, the change is a dream come true for our Pasifika community, and the end result of yet another too long, too hard, struggle with officialdom and the “one-size-fits-all” brigade.

Change always gives you cause to reflect and I’ve been enjoying doing just that in two very different ways over the holiday break.

Firstly, I’m at the stage in my doctoral thesis where I am writing up the results of staff and former students’ surveys and interviews and I am struck, as always, with the passion for, and commitment to, the work that we do, and the impact that has on the young people who learn from us, but teach us so much more.  This writing has been a humbling experience.

Secondly in a very different, social networking,  forum a former student started a conversation seeking memories of their experiences in Te Whānau o Tupuranga or Clover Park Middle School.  Many of us have become obsessed I think with daily checking to see who has joined the conversation!  I’m fascinated by the things former students remember!  One comment starts a string of memories and when that thread is exhausted another comment starts the ball rolling again.  There have been debates, confessions,  questions, jokes, whole threads devoted to the words of school songs, demands for a reunion, and reconnections all over the place!  There are many things I also remember – and some I don’t – and am glad I didn’t know about at the time!  It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night you think you’ll have a quick look, there is always a past student online and commenting – because they are now spread across other countries and time zones.  Former students have shared questions about families, the names and ages of their children, what they are doing, and where they are living.  This reading and writing has been funny, and heartwarming, and about whānau – and I’m as hooked as everyone else!

Both activities make you realise that what we do matters, in big ways, such as major school restructuring, and in small ways that you don’t even notice at the time.  Both also make you realise that what we say about whānau and those lifelong connections, is also true.  One former student, in her comments on the networking site, sums it all up when she says that in Te Whānau o Tupuranga she learned :

… how to stand up for yourself, how to respect other cultures, how to respect your own culture, how to stand in front of crowds and speak, how to sing, how to dance, how to eat chicken, chips, and popcorn mixed, how to deal, how to perform, how to use computers, how to facilitate workshops, how to pohiri, how to manaaki, how to be proud of who you are, how to LIVE, how to LOVE.

Thanks Haley Maxwell (Class of 94) for allowing me to use your words. Thanks Te Whānau o Tupuranga for your support for this new direction in our journey, when it would have been easy to resist and enjoy what you had achieved as a separate school.  Thanks Clover Park for the dream, the drive and commitment to make this new change happen.

Welcome to Kia Aroha College!