Flaxmere College is 25
Flaxmere College is holding a rugby match with a difference when it celebrates its 25th birthday in a couple of weeks.
Former students and staff will play present students and staff, with the college’s second principal Richard Schumacher as referee.
The college started life as an intermediate, catering for around 300 Years 7-9 (Form 1-3) students and 27 staff. Founding principal John Parkinson retired in May, 1995 and was replaced by Richard. The college has grown up and out from humble beginnings and is now in celebration mode — getting ready to mark the milestone since its official opening on June 3, 1993. Each subsequent year another year level was added, with the first cohort of Form 7 students (Year 13) beginning in 1997. In 1994 the then Minister of Education announced he was considering halting the development of Flaxmere College at fourth form (Year 10) level.
“This was met with a massive reaction from the community which resulted in protest action and marches. The decision was subsequently reviewed and the school continued through to Form 7 (Year 13),” says administration executive Kathryn Simmons.
As an initial intermediate, the college Board of Trustees, management and staff had to create policies and procedures as each new level was added, which bought different challenges and opportunities. Other challenges have come in the form of outside perceptions, Kathryn says.
“When people visit the school they comment on the positive wha¯ nau atmosphere and the culture of success throughout the school. We’ve built this culture throughout the school where every student is enjoying and achieving educational success.”
That educational success was rewarded when Flaxmere College won the 2018 Supreme Award and Teaching and Learning Award at the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards this year.
“This success didn’t happen in isolation. It happened through meaningful collaboration and having a shared goal to ensure equity and excellence for all students so they can achieve their aspirations.”
Success isn’t limited to the school grounds — past pupils include those now working as lawyers, actors, business owners, teachers, police officers, military personnel, council members, youth and community workers.
“We are proud of all of our students.”
Kathryn says the new challenge is to prepare each learner for future education and the ever-changing digital world. She says technology has supported effective teaching and learning practises across the school.
“We are fortunate to have the support of the Flaxmere Licensing Trust who has funded the bulk of our ICT resources.”
Sport and culture are also very important to staff and students.
“We offer a wide range of extra curricular activities — from basketball, netball, badminton and volleyball to Outward Bound scholarships, horse polo and pool.”
Kathryn believes Flaxmere College has created a wha¯ nau environment where every student is genuinely cared about, with high expectations for their learning and success. The school has become a community hub where wha¯ nau and community groups often base themselves.
“Past students often visit and let us know what they are doing. We love celebrating their ongoing success. We are really excited about the celebration and it’s been great hearing from past students and staff and what they have been doing.”
■ Flaxmere College 25th school reunion, Saturday, October 20. The day starts with a powhiri at the school, morning tea, photos and tours of the school. Following this, there are two past student/staff vs current student staff sports matches — rugby at 12.30pm and netball at 1.30pm at the school. Dinner is at 6.30pm at the HB Racing Centre with entertainment and guest speakers (past students and staff). Register to attend on the school website, or at the college office. Registrations close Wednesday, October 10, 2018.
Gearing up for their 25th reunion are Flaxmere College past and present staff and students (from left) Cherie Heeney (nee Pohatu - current staff member and past student), Jane Goodacre (past staff member), Kevin Gill (current staff member), Joann Waitoa (current staff member), Kathryn Simmons (current staff member).