Rectors Report

By Richard Hall | Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2017

Otago Boys High School still stands as THE school on the hill.

This reputation is well earned, closely maintained and if we slip, easily lost. But as the 14th Rector I am confident that the values of our school; Respect, Courage, Honour, Perseverance and Excellence are the values that not only hark back to our tradition and history, but also prepare our current boys for outstanding futures.

Since I put forward to the Foundation for a renewal of energy I am pleased to say that the Hostel redevelopment in particular has been encouraging. A committee of Paul Vilestra (Hostel Manager), Liam Turner (current Head of Hostel), Peter McIntyre, Des Smith, myself and Russell Marsh (Chair), have made significant initial progress in aligning the structure of the project, accessing potential avenues of support and maintain a determined focus to meet a timeline.

Our vision is to create the best living and learning environment for our hostel students. This means that their systems and environment need revision and renewal. Presently we are undertaking our ‘due diligence’ exercise. This includes a seismic and fire assessment from a professional firm. This is necessary if we are to plan properly for the future.

Recently I met with Melanie Esplin, Events Manager of Auckland Grammar. As some of you may be aware Grammar will shortly celebrate its 150th year and she met with me to get ideas around how you conduct that sort of celebration. In turn, I was able to ask Melanie about the structure that Grammar has to support their school. The Grammar development office has a full time staff of 6. It is their job to support the teaching and learning in the school by running events and seeking donations to support teaching.

I write this, not as an indication of where our Foundation will head, but more as a point. I know that some wish the Foundation to do more, and I agree, but with one part time administration assistant are we realistic about what can be achieved?

The current Board of Paul Twemlow, Brent Nicholson, Brent Alexander, Geoff Bates and John Blaikie are certainly passionate about their school – they have, in our words – put their hand up to help, not out as in what is in it for me. But with them all having full time jobs, can we realistically expect more from them? At this time I would like to thank Greg Easton who has stepped down from his role of Chairperson and trustee of the Foundation, Greg has been involved with the Foundation for the past nine years and I would like to thank him for his dedication, time, and enthusiasm.

It is time for the Foundation to review its strategic plan, to look at the current employment structures and to invest in a realistic programme of events and donations.

To achieve what this school needs to stay on top, I believe a significant effort needs to be made to get donations from the alumni. A target campaign, relying on a ‘call to action’ would I believe produce results.

To achieve this I first need the Foundation to reinvest in the database, it’s biggest asset. Melissa does a very good job; within her limited hours, but without an investment in personnel the database is in danger of becoming obsolete. I propose a short term contract be given to employ a person to chase accurate details, to produce strong data for events and to plan our 2018 calendar. Without this, another year will go by with little or no progress.

A school such as Auckland Grammar surely has no better alumni and history than us? Our school needs to have the Grammar ambition if we are to maintain our position on the hill.