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EDUCATION: With Peter Clague, Kristin School

Lasting the Distance

You can’t beat a good motto. As Kristin celebrates its 40th Anniversary, I have being giving some thought to our own one: “Progress with Vision, Integrity and Love.” Consider what went into putting that together and the pressure of selecting those exact words. The creation of a new school is an exciting time, with the founders very focussed on their dreams and ideals. Conjuring up a motto for the fledgling school would have been a weighty matter. It needed to be short enough to be catchy, long enough to be meaningful. It would have needed to capture the prevailing aspirations of the day, yet still be relevant in 100 years time. On reflection, I don’t think our founders did too badly.
A quick scan of the mottos from schools around the world reveals some inspired choices and notable flops. There are lots of references to light, stars, strength, heart, work, difficulty, fighting, striving and of course, learning.
Many are in Latin, which always sounds very inspiring, although sometimes the translation leaves you scratching your head. “Nec Dextrorsum Nec Sinistrorsum” would look very impressive on a school blazer, although its relevance to a school (it translates as: “Neither to the right nor to the left”) is a little unclear. Likewise, “Vox clamantis in deserto.” Which translates as: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Not the most inspiring chant on the rugby sideline perhaps.
Conversely, the Latin “Labora Ut Requiescas” might not slip off the tongue quite so easily, but its meaning, “Work so that ye may rest” might make more sense to many teenage students. And how cool to have the punchy and uplifting school motto: “Veritas et Virtus” – “Truth and Virtue.”

Perhaps some of the following could have been equally apt for Kristin:

  • La Trobe University: “Seek and ye shall find.”
  • Keat’s College: “A School, A Family”
  • St Alban’s School: “Born not for ourselves alone.”
  • Monash University: “I am still learning”
  • Wolfson College, Cambridge: “Ring True.”

But in the end, Progress with Vision, Integrity and Love seems a perfect fit for the school that Kristin has become. We don’t have a Latin translation of course, but I did discover this intriguing story whilst hunting for one.
The word integrity comes from the Latin “integritas” which means wholeness, completeness and entirety. Apparently, it gained common meaning and usage in the ancient Roman army. During morning inspections, the Centurion would confront his Legionnaires in turn. Each soldier would strike his breastplate with his right fist and shout "INTEGRITAS.” Breastplate armour had to be strongest in order to protect the heart from swords and arrows and the inspecting Centurion would listen to the shout and the ring of the metal. If he was satisfied that the armour was sound and the soldier beneath was protected, he would move on to the next man. The ritual proved not only that the armour was solid, but also that the soldier wearing it was sound of character. His heart was in the right place. His standards and morals were high. He had integrity.
It has always been easy to cite examples of progress, vision and love in this school. Knowing the origin of the word integrity, I see abundant examples of it amongst our young people too. As we celebrate 40 years of educational leadership in 2013, we acknowledge and honour the thousands of Kristin graduates who are now making contributions, both to New Zealand society and communities around the world, because their heart is in the right place.

Kristin School's Executive Principal, Peter Clague, reflects upon the school’s motto in its 40th year.

by Peter Clague