Posted by Veronica Aislabie
on 25 November 2021
At John Paul College, we have developed a unique programme for our students in Religious Studies. In Years 12 and 13 students are selected for the Faith in Action programme. There is criteria for this, based on the pathway that the students select. If students are going to be involved in our Gateway and Trades programmes, they will not be at school for the full academic programme so get the opportunity to join Faith in Action. We also identify students who have struggled academically and would benefit from a less intense programme and more targeted one on one teaching. The programme involves up to two Achievement standards, and the option of a Unit Standard relating to service, communication, and teamwork. The students select a project for the year, that this standard will cover. This year we have collected bedding, blankets, duvets, sleeping bags and winter sheets which the students have sorted and delivered to the Catholic Women’s League who in turn work with Healthy homes, a local organisation committed to ensuring families have access to warm bedding etc.
The students also catered for the Catholic Women’s League Annual Conference afternoon tea. We offered John Paul College as the venue, and the students made scones and served them with refreshments to the visitors. This took place in the school holidays, and it was heartening to see that the students were so keen to be involved. Teamwork was the order of the day. The students worked with Mrs Fredricksen, the Year 13 Faith in Action teacher, in the school cooking room to produce the scones, and these were served with Mrs Aislabie and the Year 12 team.
Earlier this year we were given boxes of surplus tomatoes. The Year 12 students spent several hours making tomato soup which was put into containers and given to our local organisation Whaka ora, who provide food for those in Rotorua needing food assistance. There is a school vegetable garden that can also be accessed for these projects. This programme works so well, as there is buy in from several other teachers. The Food and Nutrition teacher Mr Davis, is very supportive of our initiatives, the Careers teacher, Mrs Hewitson also works closely with these students, as many need close accompaniment on their academic journey.
Every year is different, and as the opportunities arise, students are quick to come up with ideas. Some like to work together in the school garden, alongside the Enviro group, getting the garden ready for planting, weeding etc.
We have catered for our Junior girls Lasallian camp, providing a tasty Friday night meal. We have even hosted a dinner for the marginalised in Rotorua. We were able to work with a local café, who agreed to open for the evening, for our exclusive customers only. Many had never eaten in a restaurant before and it was humbling to see their appreciation to our students, who served, sang, and amused the children while the parents chatted.
We regularly knit and sew beanies for winter to be given to families.
Our programme is flexible, and we aim to help where we see a need in our local community.
The programme is very popular, and students are always asking to be considered. I am constantly hearted at the generosity and desire to make a difference in our young Lasallian students.