Fond farewell

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - MIRI SCHROETER

Af­ter 130 years of ser­vice, Chel­tenham School has closed its gates.

The Manawatu coun­try school was founded in 1886, but its roll had dwin­dled in re­cent years, with just eight pupils and three staff in 2016.

The de­ci­sion to close it was an­nounced by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in July, at the re­quest of the school’s Board of Trustees.

Prin­ci­pal Louise Il­ton had pre­vi­ously said pop­u­la­tion data showed the roll was un­likely to grow, which had led to the re­quest.

Ex-pupils and teach­ers, and friends and fam­ily, joined the school’s cel­e­bra­tion of its 130 years on Satur­day, and rem­i­nisced over their fond­est mem­o­ries.

Hay­den Parish, a pupil 20 years ago, said the school was ‘‘awe­some’’ and such a large part of a small ru­ral com­mu­nity.

Parish and his three broth­ers all went to the school.

Dur­ing Al­bert Do­dun­ski’s time as the prin­ci­pal, be­tween 1981 and 1994, some years there were 76 pupils were en­rolled at the school, he said.

He said many fam­i­lies had strong links to the school and it was sad to see it close.

‘‘It’s ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion that you can’t get any­where else,’’ Do­dun­ski said.

‘‘It’s go­ing to be re­ally hard for those who have a his­tory with Chel­tenham. This is home to them.’’

One of Do­dun­ski’s pupils, Del­wyn Thomp­son, said swim­ming and school camps at Man­gatepopo were some of her favourite mem­o­ries.

Il­ton said run­ning a small school had its chal­lenges, but it was an en­joy­able four years.

‘‘We put our own flavour on it,’’ she said.

The gath­er­ing was a chance to mix and min­gle in a ca­sual en­vi­ron­ment and say good­bye, Il­ton said.

‘‘These peo­ple put so much time into the school.’’

Be­cause of the clo­sure, Il­ton would now be work­ing at Apiti school.

The school’s re­main­ing pupils would dis­perse to dif­fer­ent schools, in­clud­ing Feild­ing In­ter­me­di­ate and Hun­ter­ville School.


Ex-stu­dents (left to right) Cameron Parish, Scott Parish and Hay­den Parish at Chel­tenham school’s clos­ing.

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