Bruce House Dinner 2019

October 24, 2019 at 1:53 PM

As the College year draws to a close, parents of the Year 13 boarding graduates, staff and Trust Board members joined the boarders at Bruce House last night to celebrate their achievements and give thanks to those who care for them – their surrogate family members during term time. This was a special evening where the invited guests soon gained an understanding of the very strong family bond that pervades the boarding house.

The evening got underway with Year 13 student, Valance Yates, leading fellow boarders in a highly charged Bruce House Haka, before the guests were escorted to their tables. Head of Boarding, Mr Martin Piaggi paid special tribute to Valance for the huge contribution he has made to Bruce House and the leadership skills he has shown.

Following dinner, Mr Piaggi spoke of the three pillars of expectation that were introduced to the House this year - ‘Gratitude, Humility and Contribution.’ Implementing this meant that all 101 boarders needed to buy into the shared mindset; something they have done willingly. He spoke of the immense pride he feels for the young men and women in his care and the great strides that have been made to create an even stronger sense of family bonds within Bruce House.

The House is well served by a group of wonderful staff who care for our boarders. The shared respect and love became evident during the course of the evening as current Bruce House Head Prefects, Tiaan Tauakipulu and Seloa Keil came forward to pay tribute to their fellow boarders and the many staff who care for them amongst the duty, nursing and catering staff and, in particular, Mr Piaggi and Head of Girls’ Boarding, Mrs Bridget Anitelea. Both students have been excellent role models to the younger students and epitomise all that is good in such a community. They both spoke passionately about their boarding experience.

Seloa said ‘Moving from Samoa to attend school in a bigger country was a big challenge for me because I was 2,000 miles away from my family, but ‘St Kents’ truly is a home away from home. I know that I will measure my time at Bruce House in terms of the life-long friendships I’ve made, the unforgettable memories, and the times shared. It’s been three fantastic years and I’m forever grateful for the amazing journey with each and every one of you.’

Tiaan followed with an emotional speech saying, ‘We have been spoilt with our meals, had our clothes washed, dried, folded and placed into our lockers, and we have been supported by caring teachers who encouraged and wanted the best for us. As my time at Bruce House comes to an end, I am a little sad, as it has been a blessing to be a student at Saint Kentigern College and be a part of our Bruce House Family.  I am grateful for the staff who became my second parents and for you my Bruce House brothers and sisters.  I could not have asked for a better cohort to board with.’

Another constant at Bruce House is Senior College Principal, Mrs Suzanne Winthrop, who cared for the foundation female boarders when boarding was first offered to girls in 2011. Each year she addresses the boarders with fondness, having a true appreciation of what it means to be a part of their community. She told the boarders, ‘In education we talk about the importance of developing ‘soft skills’ as well as the important knowledge gained by coming to school.  I believe, as a boarder, you have the best opportunity to learn those soft skills that will enable you to thrive in life beyond Saint Kentigern; skills such as resilience, confidence, organisation and the ability to work in a team that includes both genders. The ability to live with others who you may not necessarily choose to live or work with, means you have to develop crucial traits such as empathy, tolerance, considering others before yourself, patience, humility and loyalty. As boarders you may not recognise these advantages now, but in a few years when you look back on your time at Bruce House, you absolutely will.’

Bruce House is home to many talented young men and women who have excelled in all fields of endeavour. The dinner presented our musicians with a chance to share their talents. The very accomplished chamber trio of Harry Chen on violin, Eric Liang on cello and Peter Guan on piano opened the evening playing an excerpt from Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons.’ Following on, Emma Halliday sang the contemporary classic, Fast Car’ accompanied by Devon Atiga on guitar. Later in the evening, Kaleb Stevens came forward to play Bohemian Rhapsody on the piano and, before Reverend Smith closed in prayer,  Tiaan, Valance and Te Rama Reuben led a boys’ choir to sing ‘Nga iwi e’ in beautiful harmony.  

The evening concluded with Mrs Winthrop presenting the Bruce House Awards for 2019 followed by the announcement of next year’s Bruce House student leaders: Bruce House Head Boy Treyah Kingi-Taukamo and Bruce House Head Girl, Romy Salmond.

If the parents of our boarding graduates were once worried about the idea of their child leaving home to board at school, their fears would surely have been allayed last night, as they came to fully understand the strong bonds and support networks between the boarders and those that care for them at Bruce House. Those graduating, know those bonds run deep and will last the test of time.


Bruce House Awards 2019

The MacFarlan Award for Head Boy:                                  Tiaan Tauakipulu
The MacFarlan Award for Head Girl:                                  Seloa Keil
The McGuiness Cup for Academic Honours:                       Harriette Baxter
The Morgan Cup for Year 11 Academic Achievement:         Christine Gao
The Bruce House Cup for Top All-Round Boy:                    Caelan Potts
The Norma Cowie Cup for the Top All-Round Girl:              Harriette Baxter                             
The Marcroft Cup for Sportsperson of the Year:                 Shalom Broughton

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