Since the last issue we have had two serious weather events hit us! Both these events have impacted on different parts of our community in different ways. No one however has escaped the impact entirely. Our thoughts and best wishes are with those members of our community who have been hardest hit by the carnage wreaked by Cyclone Gabrielle. Some families have lost homes, others incurred wind and water damage to property, pets and livestock, had prolonged power and water outages, severe flooding, or become isolated with no access and suffered loss of communication.
The wonderful neighbours that make up our Kaipara College community have rallied around, with support for those affected coming from family, friends, neighbours and community groups. Such is the support and connection felt across this community, especially in times of crisis.
Students have returned to school having experienced wide-ranging impacts. Some have lost everything, others have seen the worst effects only on television and social media. Traumatic events such as we have endured over the last month will affect students differently. Some return to school happy to see their friends and easily go back to school routines, others are nervous and anxious, hyper-alert wondering what will happen next, while still others will be withdrawn and quiet. Some will seem fine only to suffer the effects of trauma much later.
Kaipara College welcomed our students back with open arms after four days of closure. Reconnecting with peers, friends and teachers, rebuilding relationships and a return to routine and familiarity helped students regain a sense of security and safety. Many students were keen and ready to get straight back into learning and our staff were on-hand to provide support where it is needed, checking in with individual students. Schools play a major and often unrecognised and unacknowledged role in helping students process traumatic events, in this case two wild weather experiences, helping them to settle them back into a space where they can learn.
Kaipara College is also aware of the need to look forward, to be hopeful and positive for the future. We provide students with opportunities to problem solve, help others and plan for a positive future by asking them questions such as: What can be learned from these recent events? What have we learnt about ourselves? Our community? How can we manage events such as these or similar, better in the future? This kind of exercise enables us to channel anxiety and stress into empowerment by encouraging conversations around what can be done to help in the situation and what is already happening. We can explore how our students coped with challenging situations or helped others in the past, to draw out and focus on their strengths.
Kaipara College, in times of crisis has shown itself to be a place of stability for our young people, order amongst the chaos, routine, structure, safety, care, support, fun, friends as well as learning!
We are all looking forward to a positive, fun and learning-filled year!