Blake’s Reasons for Studying Spanish

Studying a foreign language as a Kiwi is more important now than ever. As one of the most culturally diverse countries of the world, we are naturally always surrounded by people of such varied cultural backgrounds and perspectives. Studying a foreign language really makes you appreciate just how much effort needs to be put into learning English, and thus allows you to better associate with the experiences of those around you. This further extends to a heightened ability to relate to the perspectives of people from different cultural backgrounds, an experience that we as English-only speakers tend to miss out on.

The process of learning a foreign language teaches you so much about the language(s) you grew up speaking. I have gained such an improved understanding of English through studying Spanish, as learning a new language forces you to put conscious thought into the structure and patterns behind language and communication, this is especially true for languages that share similar linguistic roots.

Learning a foreign language poses a unique challenge that simply can’t be found anywhere else. Quite possibly one of the biggest differences that studying Spanish has brought to my life (aside from being able to speak a second language) is the ways in which it has benefitted me mentally. The skills you acquire from learning a foreign language translate to so many areas of life: I’ve noticed a massive improvement in my confidence, social skills, memory retention, problem-solving skills and ability to think on my feet. Not only this, but the sheer amount of things I have learned about myself and tricks that I have picked up for more efficient learning and memorisation from my time studying Spanish greatly aid me in my other studies. And if job prospects is something that interests you, being polylingual gives you a massive advantage over other candidates for work and study positions, and allows so much more freedom in overseas work and travel.

Not only this, but the connections and friends I have made along the way have been some of the most natural and easily-formed that I have ever experienced; there really is something so incredibly unifying about the shared experience of having learnt a foreign language, especially when that journey is one that you’ve gone on together. And I’m sure that I am nowhere near seeing the last of this phenomenon.

There really is no better time to choose to pick up a language than right now in college. The fact that our school offers Spanish as a subject at such a high level is so fortunate. Learning a language independently is extremely difficult and requires a copious amount of motivation and self-discipline, and this is especially true if it’s your first time learning a foreign language. The fact that just by choosing Spanish as a subject at the end of year 10, and putting the work in over those next three years, allows you to walk out of year 13 with effective fluency in Spanish still continues to blow my mind even now. And once you’ve done that, going on to learn another language is so much easier. You already have all the vital skills in place for learning a language, and already know what to expect.

Choosing to take Spanish as a subject has opened so many pathways for me and illuminated so many new possibilities for my future, it is simply an experience that I could not possibly recommend enough and would never dream of living without. I have found such a strong passion for the Spanish language and its culture throughout my time studying it, and cannot wait to now go on to learn more languages. Even though I don’t even plan on going into a career that requires my Spanish, I don’t doubt for a second that having chosen to take the leap to learn it has benefitted me immeasurably.

Choosing to study Spanish should be a decision you make for yourself out of a genuine curiosity and/or passion for what it will offer you. Don’t just solely pick Spanish because it might net you a job, or impress your parents, choose to learn it because you can, and because it’ll be an adventure you’ll never forget.

2020 World Challenge Team – Tongariro Crossing 3 Day Hike

On the annual public holiday of Waitangi Day, 12 of Strathallan’s students and 2 teachers began their traverse of the Tongariro Northern Circuit. These twelve students are part of the 2020 World Challenge Team, heading to Nepal in the July holidays. Considering the alpine territory and length (9 days) at which the students will be tramping in July, the Northern Circuit (3 days) was a perfect training exercise.

On Wednesday afternoon, the students, Mr Laing and Dr Greenley loaded up a minivan and a car and began the journey down to National Park. After a restful afternoon and evening in a youth hostel, the team was rearing to go the next morning. Thankfully, we managed to hit the start of the track before the thousands of other trampers arrived. This allowed the team to begin their trek at a comfortable pace in the early morning condensation. After traversing the painful (and appropriately named), “Devil’s Staircase”, the team carried on making progress along the track, towards the Mangatepopo Saddle, Red Crater and eventually the iconic Emerald Lakes. It is fair to say that the downhill scree slope was the most difficult element of the first half of the day, due to the slippery, loose and unstable characteristics of scree. Funnily enough, the boys went skiing down the scree slope with much enthusiasm, leaving the rest of the team to catch up at the Emerald Lakes where we rested for lunch. After a severely underestimated length of time, the sore-legged team arrived at Oturere hut. A stunning night spent under the stars lead into a new day with new ground to be covered!

As the team woke up to a stunner of a sunrise, they also woke up to a scorcher of a day. By eight, we had eaten, packed up and were ready to go! The walk for that day was expected to be significantly shorter and easier, an estimated three hours compared to the previous day’s six hours. Sadly, the day didn’t turn out to be as easy as expected due to 28 sore legs and 14 sore, sunburnt and tired bodies. Despite the exhausted state of the team, we pushed through the pain. And man, was it worth it. On more than one occasion we had panoramic views displaying the Kaimanawa Ranges, Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe alongside native forest, volcanic rocks and desert. It was definitely worth the hard work. At around three in the afternoon, the team arrived at a manor, yes, a manor. The Waihohonu Hut is hands-down the most impressive hut I (an experienced tramper) have ever stayed in. With the capacity to sleep 30 and house another 20 on the empty floor-space, our team of 14 was rather comfortable. An afternoon spent relaxing, stretching and river swimming crept into our last night of the tramp.

Upon waking up to a windy, foggy morning at 5.30am, the team’s determination to reach Whakapapa Village had never been so strong. A quick and efficient breakfast and pack up routine was executed with precision, allowing the group to hit the tracks 20 minutes earlier than we had hoped for. A steadily fast pace set the team off well into the cloud and wind surrounding the Central Plateau. With minimal stops, the team made quick progress towards the village. The quick progress was heavily assisted by the prospect of coffee, hot food and showers. By 12.45pm the team was rejoicing whilst hobbling into the nearest café for lunch. I’ll tell you what, that first meal of non-dehydrated food was amazing! After indulging ourselves on hot chips and coffees, we headed back to the youth hostel for a quiet night before the journey home.

After 3 days and over 40km of walking, the team was physically and mentally exhausted. We saw some of New Zealand’s best sights, we ate some of New Zealand’s worst dehydrated food and we walked New Zealand’s most famous Great Walk, and man, did we have fun doing it!

– Written by Tegan Allan

Viva Strathallan – a trip to Spain

On the 12th April, 29 students and 3 teachers set off for 30 hours of travel to Madrid, Spain. As soon as we arrived we went to the hotel and then did a walking city tour of the beautiful city, stopping for chocolate con churros. On the second day, we went to the Warner Bros theme park, which definitely fixed our jetlag! On the 15th we visited the Real Madrid F.C Stadium and El Prado museum to admire the beautiful art and massive stadium! We then headed to the Retiro Park and did a bike tour around it. The next day we ventured to the tiny, yet magical, city of Segovia. We learned about the history as we walked from one side of the city to the other, where we climbed to the top of the Alcazar.

The next day we left Madrid and arrived in Valencia after a 2-hour high-speed train ride. We visited a tiger nut farm, drunk horchata and got a lesson on how to make it. We then met our host families and went back to their houses. The next day we had a 3-hour Spanish lesson to develop our skills, and then went to the historical center and cathedral, followed by some free time to explore and shop. The next day we were supposed to visit a Spanish orchard but because of the weather we were redirected to an art and science museum, and then went to an Aquarium for the afternoon. The next day we were supposed to go to the beach, but the weather was still not looking good so instead, we went to an indoor trampoline park, played some laser tag and did indoor beach volleyball. That night we had our last dinner with our host families in Valencia.

The next morning we said our goodbyes and got on a bus for a 6-hour ride to Granada. As soon as we arrived we met our new host families and went back to theirs for dinner. The next day we visited the beautiful cathedral and royal chapel and then we had some free time. On the 23rd – everyone’s favourite day – we headed to a high school! We got to meet our buddies that we had been talking to. We danced with them and then we had some time to just hangout with them and make new friends! Definitely a highlight of the trip. After the school visit, we went to the Arab and Gypsy neighbourhoods and then we learned how to dance flamenco, then watched a flamenco dance performance after a tapas dinner. We ended our stay in Granada the next day by visiting the stunning La Alhambra.

The next day began with a 2-hour bus ride to Cordoba. Once in Cordoba, we had a tour guide show us around the Mosque-Cathedral and then had lunch in a typical Spanish restaurant. After our short stay in Cordoba we hopped on a high-speed train back to Madrid and then had our last dinner in Spain. The next day we had a hip-hop dance lesson in the morning, and then headed to a mall for lunch and some free time before going to the airport. Finally, after a long 25 hours of flying our families welcomed us back home.

– Written by Abbie Webb

World Vision Youth Conference 2019

Recently, some of our student leadership group attended the World Vision Youth Conference, which focused on empowering and encouraging students to be our future leaders for justice and equality.

Millions of young people around the world face injustice and inequality every day of their lives. While many see news of war and disaster almost daily, few feel empowered enough to step up and challenge the status quo. The World Vision Youth Conference focused on changing this by encouraging students to challenge what it means to be a leader and to lead for humanity.

The conference had a number of speaker sessions, collaborative exercises and interactive workshops available to provide students the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and skills. The speakers at the event inspired our leadership group to act and encourage others to stand up for young people experiencing injustice and inequality and be leaders of global change.

Key speaker Julia Zhu discussed how we as leaders could use our platform for young minds to come together to build our social awareness and learn how our actions can help put a stop to global injustice. Another speaker, Chris Jupp, also shed light on global inequality and how leadership with purpose can make a real difference. Listening to these speakers sparked a passion for justice, and really gave us as students an opportunity to channel our potential for leadership.

A special and sincere moment was experienced between all students when speaker Abe Nouk shared with us a poem he wrote after hearing about the devastating Christchurch shootings. His poem was as follows – “Signs we are flowers to blossom; the sun is shining. As we wake aware some flowers will not blossom by no fault of their own, we will accept the responsibility to water ourselves with compassion and grow in loving unity.” Listening to his heartfelt words inspired me, and other students, to open our hearts and minds to really see the people around us in this world.

The World Vision Youth Conference had a great impact, empowering us as students to advocate for and lead social change in our local and global communities. The influence this conference has left ensures that we use our position as leaders to leave a profound effect on others for years to come.

– Kelda Elborough

9A social science trip

On Thursday 27th of February, 9A went to Mangere Mountain to witness an actual volcano. For the last 6 weeks, we had been focusing on volcanoes and other natural disasters. We arrived at 9:30 in the morning we were met by our guides at the entrance to the mountain. We walked for a short period before coming upon a plastic red box. Our guide got us into groups of four and gave us a sponge with a bottle with vinegar in it and a spoon of baking powder. We had to pour the baking powder into the vinegar which reacted with a splash of white foamy liquid.

Once we had all tried the experiment we went for a brisk walk to a depression in the land. Our guide explained that this was once a storage place for food used by the Maori people that lived on this mountain. We walked back to where we created our first experiment and prepared for our second. We were each given a plastic bottle filled with a brown chunky liquid and placed it through a hole in a plastic sack. Then we opened the lid and watched it slowly wind its way down the sides of the sack.

After the experiment, she explained its significance. “In each of the bottles was a cheap soft drink mixed with glue to make a chunky texture, the carbon dioxide bubbles in the soft drink represent the highly pressured gases inside the lava”, our guide told us.

Soon afterwards we climbed to the highest point on the mountain and circled the rim of the dual craters before walking down into the second crater to inspect some ‘lava bombs’. She showed us the different types of lava bombs and how they formed. We then ventured to Ambury Farm Park where we were each given a helmet as it was time to explore the lava cave underneath one of the fields. The entrance was covered with a hollow grilled piece of steel so you could not access it without a key. Our guide opened it and we descended into the cave, it was a gloomy area illuminated by one stream of light coming through the hole we just climbed through. It was about ten meters wide and 1.5 meters tall. Our guide explained that caves like this were made when lava cools on the outside but the lava remains warm and keeps moving, creating a sort of tunnel. She proved it by showing the igneous rock on the ceiling and walls.

Finally we had a civil defence unit; it would be the last activity we did. We learnt about what would happen if a new volcano erupted in Auckland. We found out about pyroclastic flows and lahars and their devastating effects. Our guide gave us an idea of what happens in an evacuation and what we needed to take should we ever need to be evacuated. At last it was time to leave. We wished our guide well and left.

– By Thomas McCulloch 9A

A record-breaking athletics day


An amazing ten records were broken at our College Athletics Day on Wednesday, 21 February, highlighting the tremendous sporting talent of so many of our students.

New Athletic records 2019:

  • Maverick Hayes Senior boys 800m  2m 9.68sec
  • George Kozlov Senior Boys 400m      53.48 sec.
  • Daniel Tilsley senior boys high jump( 2.00m), senior boys discus(38.42m)
  • Matthew Swales  Intermediate boys 400m  55.58 sec.
  • Siobhan Balle: Intermediate girls 400m  (1m 2.94sec),800m (2m 23.31) 3000m(11m 16.00sec)
  • Neo Kuy Junior boys high jump( 1m 56cm)
  • Abby Englebrecht Y8 girls high jump.(1.53m)

Congratulations to these students who not only broke school records but who also created new PBs for themselves.

Our year 9 students recently spent two days at Camp Adair in the Hunua Ranges.

Year 9 Camp was a great experience for all the students and teachers who were involved. We stayed at the camp for two days and did activities such as team building, a trapeze, and a confidence course.

The confidence course is an obstacle course that goes through many different challenges such as: going over and under logs, going over a swing and climbing a wall as a team. The confidence course was divided into two parts, a wet part, which was full of mud and a dry part. Our group did the wet part first and nearly everyone in our team got covered in mud from head to toe.

Another activity that I really enjoyed doing was the teamwork course as we had to work together as a team to overcome challenges. This really helped us become closer as a team, and improved problem-solving skills. My favourite challenge was getting between platforms using two wooden planks (both of which were shorter than the distance between the platforms). We thought of a strategy together and everyone cooperated with each other so we got through the challenges very quickly.

At camp, we also socialised and made new friends with our teammates and with the people in our cabin. We ate at a table together and had a large amount of time to socialise with each other. We made new friendships and strengthened our old ones. The new students integrated with the old students very well.

Overall, year 9 camp was an amazing experience for everyone involved and It was filled with great activities. I, and everyone else involved, would definitely go to year 9 camp again.

by Mitchell Faint, Year 9

High Distinctions at the AMC Awards

Congratulations to Zac Perkin (year 10) and Kevin Fan (year 9) who received High Distinction awards at the 2018 Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) Awards Night held at Selwyn College.

A High Distinction award is given to students who achieve in the top 3% of participants in their region, in this case, New Zealand so this is an outstanding achievement for Zac and Kevin.

Thousands of students participate annually in the AMC from over 30 countries and success in this competition is very highly regarded globally. Often top students in this competition are invited to participate in development camps and training sessions for national competitions.

Speakers at the ceremony highlighted how important skill in mathematics is in today’s world. We heard from Dr Tanya Evans from the University of Auckland who stressed that we are in the Era of Mathematics and showed us the how mathematics is behind every key development. We were reminded that in today’s world it is not necessarily what you are qualified to do that is most important but how you think. And behind those thinkers is mathematics.

Congratulations to our great thinkers and budding mathematicians Kevin and Zac!

Boys on Tour: AIMS Games Football Tournament

The first day of the tournament was very tough. The boys playing extremely well in their three games, including playing two of the tops seeds in our pool. Although coming away with three losses (Maeroa 3-2, Tauranga Intermediate 4-0, and Albany Junior High 2-1) the boys have shown that they are willing and able to battle with anybody and put in a tremendous effort both on and off the field.

They ended the day some sore and tired bodies but enjoyed some sumptuous burgers and dessert for dinner prepared by our two camp mothers, Bonnie and Sally, and guest Master Chef, Mr O’Connor – good fuel to prepare them for day 2. The boys are representing the College, their families and themselves well.

Strathallan Sporting Achievements

Shaayan Sarker year 9
Qualified for the New Zealand Under 14 Indoor Cricket Team
My team and I train for about 2 hours every Sunday and we’re training really hard right now for Tournament which is coming up in 33 days. We’re going to Christchurch to play against a few other teams. I was firstly selected for the Auckland under 14 team and then from there, I went to Christchurch to qualify for the national team in front of professional New Zealand selectors and players. My main goal is to become an outdoor cricket player so indoor cricket is just step one for me. To achieve a place in a higher team I just worked really hard and trained heaps for the position.

Leevy Wells year 10
Qualified for the New Zealand Under 16 Touch Development Team
Training right now consists of lots of fitness tests and play because we go to camp in a few weeks for trials to get into the official national team. Professional New Zealand players will select the final team of 18 out of 30 and then that team gets to go to Australia to play against Australian teams. My main goal is to play Sevens Rugby next year so Touch is a good start. In order to get into the development team I stay focused on Touch Rugby and don’t get distracted by other sports.

Benjamin Morgan year 7
Qualified for the Counties Under 13 Hockey Development Team
We train every Wednesday and Sunday for an hour and a quarter and practice things like fitness, tackling and passing. We also go to Tournaments and play other teams. Soon we’re going to the Bay of Plenty to play. I started playing for local teams and then went to trials where spotters were selecting people for the development team. I went to Auckland to get the final decision for the team I’m in now. Improving my hockey skills is my main goal for now. I got into the development team by training a lot and keeping on trying.

Tom O’Sullivan year 8
Qualified for the Counties Hatch Hockey Team
Training happens every Sunday morning at 8:30 and we do drills and passing skills like ‘follow your pass’. I did three trials to get into the team, one of them was drills and two of them were games. At the first tournament, there were 20 players and a few were dropped. I play hockey for enjoyment and I hope to be doing it even as I get older. I trained a lot with my siblings and in a lot in my free time to get into the Hatch Team.