Bruce House Dinner 2020

October 22, 2020 at 2:22 PM

As the College year begins to draw to a close, key members of the Saint Kentigern community 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. There has always been a very strong family bond within the boarding house and during the course of this most unusual year, the challenges presented by Covid-19 served to further strengthen these ties.

The evening got underway with Year 13 student, Te Rama Reuben, leading fellow boarders in a highly charged Bruce House Haka, before the guests were escorted to their tables. The dinner presented our musicians with a chance to share their talents, as Bobby Chungsuvanich and Devon Atiga welcomed guests with a performance of ‘Daiquiri’ by Maco Road, before Bruce House Head Girl, Romy Salmond, led the House Grace in preparation for an enjoyable meal.

Following dinner, Head of Boarding, Mr Piaggi reflected back on a year that began with great anticipation and expectations set high - but by the end of the first week of Term 1, as Covid-19 entered our consciousness, the New Zealand border with mainland China was closed and our returning boarders from this region were placed in self-isolation for 14 days. Mr Piaggi said, ‘By Week 3, we were all washing our hands hourly, we were monitoring news from around the world and experiencing an unprecedented shift in our perception of normal.’

Lockdown was a personal challenge for all and it was a welcome relief when, after seven weeks, the boarders could return from home, or their homestays, back into the boarding house to re-establish their friendships, connections and routines. And then the second lockdown came. This time, 33 boarders, 20 staff and their family members stayed behind and formed one big, busy bubble! 

Mr Piaggi praised the boarders, saying, ‘The positive, inclusive, vibe that Bruce House has maintained over 2020 is a credit to all of you. You live away from home. You don’t get to choose the 99 other people who become your family. Under normal circumstances, you adapt and show resilience. In 2020, you were amazing. Many of you have not seen your families since the beginning of the year. You have got on with life and you have been positive. You have contributed and you should be very proud of yourselves.’

Mr Piaggi, with the support of Head of Girls’ Boarding, Mrs Bridget Anitelea, also paid homage to the many staff who care for our boarders saying, ‘I consider myself very fortunate to have such a strong team around me. You all share a common sense of concern for the wellbeing of our boarders. Tempering caring and mentoring, you support them as they grow and mature. The boarders are fortunate to have such competent mentors to upskill them ready for life beyond College.’ 

Bruce House Head Prefects, Romy Salmond and Treyah Kingi-Taukamo came forward to pay tribute to their fellow boarders and the many staff who care for them. 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.

Romy said, ‘My time boarding has been extremely rewarding. I’ve become more resilient, more self-confident and I have met some of the most amazing people. I now realise how lucky I am to live in such a supportive, diverse and family-orientated environment like Bruce House. Because of Covid, I wasn’t able to go home, and this place, in the true sense of the word, became my home.’

Treyah’s sentiments were just as strong, saying, ‘The exceptional environment in Bruce House is exactly what every parent would hope it would be, friendly, caring, energetic and nothing but the best support to make sure each student thrives. This year has definitely been a year to remember - our personal capabilities were tested to the highest as we adapted to the new ways of schooling. I’m confident and glad to say that as a House, we all worked, we all thrived, we all made the ‘Year of Covid,’ our year.  We continued to build and grow and came back from each lockdown stronger as individuals, as a team, as a whanau.’

There were many emotional moments during the evening, none more so than when, following Romy and Treyah’s speeches, the senior boys delivered another powerful haka before joining together to sing in beautiful harmony.

In addressing the students, College Principal, Mr Russell Brooke said that you can tell much from your first feelings when you enter a new school or a home. He said that from the outset, he could ‘feel the love’ that pervades Bruce House. Recently appointed Chairman of the Trust Board, Mr Mark Conelly, was a Bruce House boarder and he said that attending the dinner brought back many strong feelings of the friendships and sense of belonging he gained during his years as a boarder.

As the evening drew to a close, Mr Brooke presented the Bruce House Awards for 2020.

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: Treyah Kingi-Taukamo
The MacFarlan Award for Head Girl: Romy Salmond
The McGuiness Cup for Academic Honours: Tony Yu
The Morgan Cup for Year 11 Academic Achievement:Sophie Fieldman
The Bruce House Cup for Top All-Round Boy: James Holmden
The Norma Cowie Cup for the Top All-Round Girl: Ema Miyaura

Click here to view the gallery. 

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