Sacred Heart College community comes together

Sacred Heart College students, and generations to come, will be able to remember the school’s founding sisters with a dedicated quiet space. It comes after the school community lovingly cleared the overgrown gardens around the urupa (burial site) where 12 of the founding Misson Sisters lie. PTA chair Sue Boyle said it was “beautiful” to see about 30 people within the school community come together for the greater good of the school. “We put out a call to our community and we had no idea how many people we would get but there was just this influx of gorgeous people with chainsaws, axes and spades.“It was wonderful to see all the people, including kids hauling tree branches and emptying buckets, and I’d like to thank everyone who was able to make the working bee.” The urupa was overrun with trees and bushes before the working bee, held on one Sunday earlier this month and it is believed it had not been tended to for years. The initial idea had been to plant a low maintenance garden but given the amount of space uncovered, Ms Boyle said part of that will become quiet space for students complete with a grassed seating area. While there are open spaces around the school where the girls can sit, this area will be “slightly more quiet, enclosed and reflective”. “It’s now a usable space for our students and that’s so important. It enhances not only the look of the school but our students' enjoyment of the area.”The Sisters were buried at the onsite urupa from the 1800s to 1936, starting with Mother Mary, Sister Elizabeth in 1891. Originally the urupa was on the hill behind the school but as the school has grown and developed over the years it is now in the middle of the school and is surrounded by gardens and tennis courts.Ms Boyle said the working bee was “such a success” that they are considering holding another one shortly to finish off the work and get the area ready to turn it into a quiet space. Principal Maria Neville-Foster says she is “very proud” of the school’s heritage. “It is a very important part of the school and this is one way to honour the Sisters who sacrificed a lot for the school." While Covid-19 and the subsequent levels has disrupted the PTA’s calendar for the year, an unlikely positive has come out of it. Ms Boyle says they have been forced to do different activities they wouldn’t normally have done. “Covid has interrupted some of the more traditional PTA functions and we decided that we would concentrate on building up our community and bringing them together.” The working bee was the second event of the year. On September 4, they hosted a “very successful” quiz night at the Taradale Club, where 100 people attended, and just over $1000 was raised for the school. A ‘Bake-Off’ was also started with the school houses competing against each other to bake goods for sale. The first Bake-Off raised around $300, however, this event was postponed under Level 2 and will start again at Level 1.However, it does mean that the PTA will only raise about $1500 towards a school project – well short of the $8000-$10,000 they would expect to have raised by the end of the year. The knock-on effect is the $25,000 “all-weather turf” they were hoping to install will take longer than expected. “We thought it would take two years, so it will be an extension of the timeframe in which we can achieve that for our girls.”“It will happen but not as quickly as we would have liked, but that is the new normal and there has been a positive effect though in that the PTA has been forced to look at different activities.” 

Hard work pays dividends for 1st XI Football team

Sacred Heart College's first XI Football team is a far cry from where they were just three years ago. In division three, the team was losing almost all games and subsequently lacked confidence. Now, under the expert eye of footballer and principal Maria Neville-Foster and coach Steve Doyle, of Port Hill United Football Club, the team is just two games away from potentially winning division two unbeaten. If so, they will earn a spot in the top division next year. Mrs Neville-Foster, who has played football at a high level, says their success is testament to their hard work and dedication both on and off the field. When she first arrived at the school in 2018, the school’s only football team had had parent volunteers before, but no proper coach, so she took the girls under her wing. She says their first training session was more of a psychology lesson than anything else. “They were just really kind of blah, and I was like come on girls you’re not going to win anything if you’re gonna be like this and they were like what's the point we never win anyway. “But I said if you keep saying that then you will keep losing but I'm not here to lose, I'm here to win so we’re gonna rethink that and I never want to hear that in our team again.”Being involved in the Port Hill Football Club herself, she enlisted the help of Steve, who coached her, and together they formed a three-year plan. “Our goal that year, I said to Steve, I want these girls to know that they can win, that they can play good football and actually enjoy what they're doing.“So we made a three year plan that by the third year we would be in Division One and we would be going to tournament.” Steve says the girls’ have improved both individually and as a team each season. “We’ve been developing the last couple of years and this year we’re hitting our straps and everyone’s feeling a little more confident and comfortable playing."I would be really stoked if they won the division and got that reward because they've worked really hard for three years, especially some of the senior girls." Mrs Neville-Foster says it will be another three-year plan once in division one as it will be a “big leap”. Her goal is that in three years the team will be winning the top division.Steve agrees, particularly as the top division has students playing at representative levels. “It will be another challenge for them, but I think they’re ready and we’re only going to get better by playing better teams and challenging ourselves that next step up,” he said.Since the middle of this year, Principal's Secretary and representative footballer Emma Donovan has taken over as manager of the team.“It’s been quite challenging to give them my all and be principal, but I did give it to them, so Emma’s now fully taken over, but I still go to their games when I don't have commitments,” Mrs Neville-Foster said. However, seeing the girls play now is “just amazing”, she says.This season’s success is the perfect way to conclude five years in the team for captain Anna Restieaux. She is proud of how far they have come, and credits it to their desire to win and put in the hard work.While the team is losing some year 13s, she is confident in the younger girls’ ability to take the team to the top. Steve coaches four other teams alongside the Rothbury Insurance Women’s First Team and says they are his “favourite” team to coach."They're just really lovely. They listen and there has never been a bad word spoken. If they accidentally bump someone over on the football field, they will stop and they will make sure they are okay and help them up.  "They want to win but they're nice about it and they're really good sports. I've enjoyed the time I've spent coaching them, it's really rewarding." The team is set to play their final game against Taradale High School’s 2nd XI on September 16.Their last game against Woodford House’s 2nd XI on Wednesday, saw them win 4-0. They won their previous game against Hastings Girls’ High School by 12 goals. 

Generations of same families drawn to Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart College is more than just a school for Reese McKinley-Rhodes, it is a place that has been a part of her family for the best part of 100 years.Reese is the fourth generation of her family to attend the school, starting with both her great grandmothers Monica Hayden (née Fitzgibbon) in 1924 and Molly McKinley (née McCormack) who attended the school during the 1930s-1940s.Despite having the weight of family history on her, Reese was never told she had to go to Sacred Heart in Napier. It was a choice she made long before she reached year 9, while still at Reignier Primary School. Now in year 10, she does not regret her decision and aspires to continue her family’s legacy.“I like that when you walk around, everyone knows each other and everyone is friendly with each other,” says Reese.The family’s ties with the school stretch back to Reese’s maternal great grandmother Monica Hayden being a student there until 1928.      The tradition continued with Reese’s maternal grandmother Monica McKinley (née Hayden) from 1966 to 1969 and Monica’s sister Patricia Coleman (née Hayden) was also there from 1954 to 1959. Reese’s mother, Sarah McKinley attended between 1992-1996.“As cliché as it sounds there is definitely a 'Sisterhood' which has been evident through a number of years. My fondest memories are from the lifelong friendships made and this is from girls from various year groups,” says Sarah.“I feel the reason for this strong sisterhood is the school always living out the Catholic character messaging and it becomes a part of everyday life. The school has the same positive feeling it did all those years ago.”For Sarah, her dealings with the school on a personal level have gone well past her formative years. After being the school nurse for several years, she joined the Board of Trustees last year.She says she has always been impressed by the fundamental care and understanding that the school showed to any students and whānau in need.Sarah’s mother Monica says the school has always been like one big family.“Looking through the eyes of my daughter and granddaughter, it has a great community spirit and the kindness that people have for each other, and support for each other.”Their family is not the only multi-generational one at the school, with current Head Girl Lucy Dinneen being a third-generation student.Her mother Jennie says the small size of the school and its Catholic character is what makes Sacred Heart College special.“It’s just a very supportive and caring environment and they really know your child, they really do.”The ties with her family run very deep. “Basically, Lucy has had great aunts there and then my sister was there when it was an intermediate. I went there as a high school student, as did Lucy’s sister Greta and now Lucy.”“Both my mother Lowson and my sister Christine were also teachers there so there is quite the connection there with us all.”“There is an eight-year gap between my sister and I. When she was straight out of college, she was my physics and chemistry teacher, poor thing!”Jennie says a lot has changed at the school over the years, but it has kept its character.“Everyone is very much more open to the discussion about what’s happening in the world and a bit more progressive, but the fundamental beliefs are still really prevalent and practised by the staff and the leaders.”She believes Maria Neville-Foster, since her arrival as Principal, “has instilled great values and inspiration, making the school a very attractive option for families looking at secondary schools".Mrs Neville-Foster said it is “wonderful” to have that connection with the Dinneens and McKinleys and to have Sarah on the board influencing the direction for the school at governance level is “very powerful”. Their connection to the school is not an isolated case. Mrs Neville-Foster said they have a number of old girls’ as staff and on the board, and she is often told of students’ connection to the school. “Statistically they state that as a young girl the most influential person in your life is your mother, so if we take that into account, their mum’s experience and expression of her experience has had a positive influence on her life that it has influenced her daughters choice of school which is actually a very positive thing for our community.“And it has changed a lot in that time, yet the girls want to be part of a traditional school that’s moving with modern education.”

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