Sunday, February 15, 2009

Amokura and Coaching

Grant, Kate and I met at the Boss's and headed off to Amokura with the intention of going right through to Waiotahe. Grant had a date so we decided to head to the ford at the start of the big climb and return. It was a good decision as it meant the rest of Sunday wasn't zonked out like it usually is.

The climb was tricky as there were a lot of washouts and plenty of gorse, blackberry and bush lawyer.

It soon became clear that Grant had developed some great skills on his mtb course. The photo shows him comfortably handling the tank trap - he was the only one to do so.

Grant coached us all the way home and what I remember is ankles down, elbows out and hold on loosely. Kate had a bit of a nasty fall landing on her knee but got to her feet and soldiered on.

It was a great ride with a cooling swim at the Boss' on return as you can see in the photos.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Latest Learning Matters Column

Schools have certainly taken on a much larger role in our communities than they were originally intended to. Schools were set up so that teachers could teach knowledge and skills in what was considered to be the important subject areas and so that students could learn these things. The result is that students emerge from the other end either with necessary qualifications to attend university or the necessary skills to be employed to do the range of jobs our communities needed done.

This situation has certainly changed in two main areas. The first is that schools now seem responsible for areas beyond these subject disciplines. Schools are now called upon to be responsible for developing self-esteem, promoting acceptable values, addressing issues such as obesity, and providing a wide range of sporting and cultural experiences even down to free and expert coaching. This is all important stuff and schools, especially when they form strong partnerships with whanau and the wider community, do a great job within these areas.

The second area is hugely important and I am not sure if the wider community is fully aware of its importance. I am talking about qualifications.

It is impossible to make the point strongly enough that every child must gain national qualifications while they are at school. There may still be a few low-paying, usually seasonal jobs with little real long-term security, which are available for people without qualifications, but these types of jobs are declining fast.

Schools must have as their main priority the achievement of national qualifications for everyone of their students.

The good news is that this is a possible reality for every student. We have the proof at Opotiki College. Once again, the 2008 NCEA results have shown that every single student who completes five years of schooling at Opotiki College is guaranteed national qualifications. Not one student who completed 5 years failed to achieve NCEA.

The results from the Year 12 group (those who have completed 4 years of secondary schooling) are particularly impressive as well. 85% of those who completed 4 years with us achieved NCEA Level 2 – only 13 students failed to do that and the vast majority of them achieved Level 1. Those who have neither simply need to complete one more year and they will achieve one of the NCEA qualifications.

At Year 11 (3 years of secondary schooling) 65 % achieved NCEA Level 1. If the other 35% return and complete a further year they are almost guaranteed qualifications at the end of Year 12. The guarantee is rock-solid if they complete the further two years available to them!

A student, for whatever reason, who drops out of school in Years 9, 10 or 11 is choosing a future without qualifications so therefore a future without secure and rewarding employment. A student who stays for a full 4 or 5 years is making quite a different choice with hugely different consequences for their future.

The bad news is that we as a school cannot do this alone. Every responsible adult in the family and every adult who has an influence over a young person must make that child attend their school every single day and, preferably, in the best possible state for learning.

As far as national qualifications are concerned if you get them here we will get them there. Inspire your child to aim for at least 4 years, but preferably 5 years, of full attendance at secondary school. If this happens there will be a whole lot of learning and learning matters!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Redwoods Again

We've just had another outstanding day at the Redwoods. Leigh, me and Lucy met Hedley and Teleri and Marg at the Boss' and we setoff for Rotorua after some pretty horrible coffee! There we met Hilton, Matthew and Linzi and we headed into the tracks.

Leigh and Marg did their own thing and we lost Lyndsay. After hitting Tahi, Creek and Mad Not To we climbed up Hill Rd where we picked up Sarah. After a very hot climb we tackled frontal lobotomy and found ourself at the start of the National Downhill where Hilton was photographed in the starting chute!

We had an awesome ride down Billy T before climbing Hill Rd again to take on The Corners. This is the best track in the world! All downhill with dozens of beautiful berms. Unfortunately Sarah's seat couldn't cope and blew apart!

We dragged ourselves along Spring Roll and Sweet n Sour before plummeting down the awesome Mad If We Don't. We then hit the Dipper which is a great track to finish on, though a few got lost.

At the carpark we dined on watermelon and muffins.

Just over 4 hours of mtbing! A perfect day apart from the branch that gouged my arm on the third track.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Broken Seat Post Memorial Ride

This week we decided to take on the full link road in the Blue Mountains to Pakihi. This is the ride during which, in Feb 2007, I snapped my seat post and did a bit of damage! It was also notable because this is the first ride Lea has been with us for a few months. Could she cope?

Myself, the Boss, Hedley, Teleri, Destry and Lea headed off from Hanaia at 7.30am and made our way to the Blue Mountains. We had our usual slug up to Valley Station Rd and enjoyed, once more, The Dip. Lea bailed out on her first attempt but started again and nailed it.

We had a relentless, crushing, steep haul up what was once a nice forest trail, but is now a bulldozed forestry road, in very hot conditions for what seemed like hours. The problem was that the carving of roads and skid sites had obliterated lots of the tracks and we spent 45 minutes and a few dead ends until we found the rest of Mangakakaho Rd which eventually became Pakihi Rd.

Once we were on the track we had some shade and more aesthetic surroundings with some awesome downhill and, unfortunately, some more punishing uphill.

We paused for a moment of respect at the place where the seat post broke and then continued on our plummet down to the Mangakirikiri on what must be one of the longest and quite treacherous in places downhill in the area. It was great to follow Destry down on his fully-suspended limousine and get a bit of an idea of the best lines. Unfortunately, Teleri wasn't close enough to hear our warnings about a concealed deep rut. She found it though and hit the ground pretty hard.

The last 30m to the Mangakirikiri is most probably more difficult than the three sisters from last week but I gave it my best shot in a slidy/ridy sort of way.

A swim at the Pakihi Bridge was awesome as it has been a very hot day. The final 30k home along the Pakihi, Otara and SH35 was a bit of a slog with most of us just hanging on and struggling up Tirohanga and Hanaia Roads.

We launched into watermelon and beers still cold from Friday night's festivities. This ride was a hard slog and I haven't been so shattered in a while, but it was another great adventure in this piece of paradise we call Opotiki.

Best trails, best people, best post-ride and best school! Check the photos!