Official opening of Saint Kentigern Preschool

In a week when the heavens had opened across New Zealand with an unprecedented amount of rain, Director of the Preschool, Mrs Sue Nash spent a sleepless night before the official opening of Saint Kentigern Preschool, listening to the rain thundering down. Not only was she expecting a large number of parents, Trust Board members and invited guests for an outdoor occasion, but there was one other very important visitor.  Through sheer tenacity, Sue had persuaded the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honourable John Key to declare the Preschool officially open.  And to Sue’s great relief, he did so on a morning of cloudless, blue skies.

Our three and four year old preschoolers, along with the foundation year preschoolers who have already moved on to school, gathered on the porch as Mr Key and the official party were piped in by College piper, William Tremlett.  A large gathering of parents looked on from beneath the shelter of marquees decorated with blue ribbons.

After the singing of the National Anthem, Chairman of the Trust Board, Dr Bruce Goodfellow, made an address reflecting back on the history of Saint Kentigern from when a group of far-thinking Presbyterian ministers and laymen established the Saint Kentigern Trust in 1949 to provide for the education of boys on the College campus in Pakuranga. With the addition of the Boys’ School in 1959, the inclusion of girls at the College from 2003 and the merger with the Corran Trust Board in 2009 to form Saint Kentigern School for Girls-Corran, it was only natural that a preschool would follow to provide for early childhood education. The Preschool first opened at the start of 2011 and by the end of the first year it was well established as a successful preschool with a full roll.

Foundation preschoolers, Chloe and Matthew who now attend the Saint Kentigern Schools, were invited up to tell the gathering why they enjoyed their preschool years before later presenting Mr Key with a special piece of artwork “for his office wall”.

Mr Key delivered a funny, pertinent speech saying that he had no doubt that this visit would be his highlight of the day, wishing he could stay. (He was alluding to the throng of television, press and radio reporters waiting at the gates to grill him, when he had finished, about the resignation of Nick Smith.)

He did pass on a tip, if you want to get the attention of the Prime Minister by letter or email, write like a seven year old.  He said he sat right up when he received a letter of complaint from a seven year old chastising him about New Zealand’s lack of a Space Programme!

He reinforced the fact that time spent in quality preschool education is important to a child’s development and that is well evidenced when a child transitions to school.  He also said that there is a notion that Independent Education is only the realm of the wealthy but he dispelled that saying he is well aware that many parents are making an active choice to make sacrifices to send their children to an independent school so that their children are ensured of a world class education. He also said that in his many visits to schools, he particularly notices the prevalence of good manners amongst independent school students.  They are being well prepared as citizens of the world.

The preschoolers concluded the official welcome with their lively rendition of “Reach for the Stars” before Mr Key spent some time with the youngsters as they went about the business of being preschoolers. He was genuinely warm and interacted busily with the students as they went about their learning, finishing by drawing a signed copy of the Beehive on the Smart Board.

Sue Nash finished by saying, “I would like to express my thanks to the Saint Kentigern Trust Board for having the vision to open a Preschool of this calibre – for your belief in giving me the opportunity to lead this new venture.  For having the trust to know that we would find the best, most passionate teaching team. We all know how important the first five years of a child’s life are.  We are fortunate to have such a special place where we can help dreams come true – where we are able to develop inquisitive learners who are prepared with knowledge and have a positive outlook in their ability.

We will continue to work together to ensure each child is given the education, the love and care as well as the belief to discover the ‘world of opportunity’ that is available to them.”

Monday, March 26, 2012