Bruce House Leadership Team Appointed
Thursday, 5 February 2015
At the first formal dinner for 2015, the newly appointed student leaders for Bruce House were presented with their Bruce House prefect’s badge. This was a proud moment for the new Bruce House Head Boy and Head Girl, Trent MacDonald and Sienna Spence. Trent will be supported in his role by Deputy Head Boy, Charlie Rillstone and Sienna will have the support of Deputy Head Girl, Valentine Pons.
This year’s cohort of 115 boarders has 84 boys and 31 girls from Year 7 through to Year 13, including 19 international students. This year 29 new boys and 17 new girls have started boarding. The boarding houses have a great mix of students representing many countries as diverse as Indonesia, Germany, China, Taiwan, Tahiti, Fiji, Malaysia, Hong Kong Thailand, Korea and Australia. Our domestic students also come from many areas across New Zealand, from the Far North to down south in Queenstown.
This is now the 61st year of boys’ boarding and the 5th year since girls first had the opportunity to board. The transition to a co-educational boarding facility has been so seamless that it now feels as if the girls have always been there!
Indeed, Sienna is one of the Foundation Girls, having been the youngest boarder in the House in her first year. She now has two younger siblings, Maija and Lucca who have joined her in the boarding house. Now in her 5th year, she has done all her secondary schooling as a boarder and has loved the experience. As the first to address the House at dinner, she said, ‘Boarding for me has become my home. The people that I live alongside with here are my brothers and sisters. It’s a lot to take in at the start, as in you are living with a bunch of ‘strangers,’ however, these ‘strangers’ will soon become your family. Having 116 brothers and sisters is always a big help, they will help you get involved in the co-curricular that the school has to offer, and help you with your academics and clubs that you may not have the confidence to join by yourself. I have made some amazing friendships through Bruce House and have become close with so many of the girl and boy boarders. I can honestly call them my brothers and sisters. It is honestly a privilege to be a part of the Bruce House family and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. You should take every opportunity that is offered to you, and luckily enough, Saint Kentigern offers a lot of opportunities to help you find something you can really enjoy doing.’
Whilst Sienna’s family is overseas, Trent’s home is on farmland in Mangawhai and he, too, has boarded since Year 9. His father is an Old Collegian and he also had cousins at the College when he started. Coming from a rural town, he admitted to finding the size of the College daunting to begin with but found the companionship at the House helped him to settle. In his time as a boarder, Trent has seen many changes, ‘Bruce House, like myself, has changed over the time I have been here. I have seen many students come and go, I’ve had the guidance of different house and duty masters, and new buildings have been added and old ones changed. One of the biggest changes was the Upper Villa changing from a boys’ to girls’ boarding! But for all these changes, they are not as great as since when my dad came here in the early days, when boarders could only go home during the school holidays, they helped the farmers who lived next to the school to milk the cows and they scavenged any unwanted food from day boys whose lunches looked so much more exciting!’
In a message to the new boarders, both Trent and Sienna said that they will come to understand that it is a privilege to board. ‘Although it all seems a bit much at the start, living with your peers allows a close bond to occur that day students may not be able to achieve. They don’t have the same sense of family and teamwork that boarders do. The availability of resources that we all have access to is another huge benefit of boarding. We are a walk away from trainings, a second from class and it only takes a minute to spark up a game of touch or volleyball out on top of the field. There is another perk that other students might not know about… Prep! Even though it’s a hassle, it does help to get work done in a sensible time frame that could easily turn to procrastination at home with the vast amount of distractions. And an added benefit, is the possibility to get extra help from teachers up here and from other students.’
Over the years, Bruce House has been the home of some very fine young men and women like Trent and Sienna. There is an emphasis on Bruce House adding value to the College and boarders develop as leaders and willing contributors. Whether academically, on the sports field, the music centre or the stage, there are many boarders who are not only involved, but excel at all they undertake. For the senior students in particular, their proximity to the College facilities mean that they are easily able to juggle their academic and co-curricular commitments without spending time travelling to and from school.
House Master, Reverend David Smith and his wife, Karen, live onsite, as does Mrs Cathy Kirkman who has current responsibility for the girls while Mrs Juliet Dale in maternity leave. These families are at the heart of Bruce House ensuring that the boarders feel like they have a true home base at College when they are away from their own families.
The overwhelming feeling is that of a community where inclusion across the age groups is the norm and students come to recognise fellow boarders as an extension to their family. Just as the duty staff play an important role in boarders’ lives, so too do the matrons who care for them and kitchen staff who prepare their meals. They all play a part in the Bruce House Family.
Boarding has come a long way since Bruce House first opened in 1954. Cold showers, muddy fields and frozen sandwiches at lunchtime are definitely a thing of the past!