Time to re­flect on the years

Ku­ranui cen­te­nary 100 years is a solid achieve­ment for a ru­ral school such as Ku­ranui, writes Pet­rice Tar­rant.

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PURONGORONGO -

Warm lumpy milk and trav­el­ling to school in trol­leys are things of the past for Ku­ranui Pri­mary School stu­dents.

But that doesn’t mean sto­ries like this won’t be dragged up at this year’s cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions.

Young­sters have been push­ing pen­cils in­side the ru­ral class­rooms for the past 100 years and it’s time to cel­e­brate.

Come Oc­to­ber past and present stu­dents will con­verge on the four-acred prop­erty and rem­i­nisce dur­ing the Oko­roire School and District Cen­te­nary.

Among those par­tic­i­pat­ing will be Doris Adling­ton, el­dest daugh­ter of a first day pupil.

The 61-year-old said her fa­ther Llewellyn and his two sis­ters were joined by 17 other stu­dents the day the doors of Ku­ranui, then known as Oko­roire School, opened in 1914.

‘‘ They went on horse­back through the scrub cov­ered pad­docks un­til the Ku­ranui school opened.

It wasn’t un­til about 10 years ago that the school, which merged with Te Papa, was given the name Ku­ranui. Yet iron­i­cally Adling­ton said the farm her fa­ther grew up on was called Ku­ranui.

She her­self fondly re­mem­bers the days of malted milk, of­ten lumpy, made by se­nior girls ‘‘ out in the shel­ter shed in the win­ter.

‘‘And bot­tled milk, which was of­ten warm with no fridges to keep it in the summer.’’

It is a far cry from the de­li­ciously packed lunches most of to­day’s stu­dents boast.

And the look of the lunch­box is not the only thing that has changed, she said.

‘‘The swim­ming pool was in the Waiomou river. Those who could swim were sep­a­rated from learn­ers by a fallen log across the river and the toi­lets were down over the play­ing fields which seemed miles away when you were in a hurry.’’

Cur­rent prin­ci­pal Paula Hast- ings said de­spite its changed ap­pear­ance, the school still boasts its fa­mous com­mu­nity spirit.

Just 39 stu­dents are en­rolled at the mo­ment, more than half the size of the roll when num­bers peaked dur­ing the mid 2000s, she said.

‘‘It’s the dy­nam­ics of the farms to­day. They’re not bring­ing the fam­i­lies like they used to, they’re sin­gle guys.’’

And the nar­row­ing of the bus trans­port en­ti­tle­ment did not help the dwin­dling roll ei­ther, she said.

But it was a com­mon pat­tern in ru­ral ar­eas such as Oko­roire, she said.

‘‘My [ru­ral] school that I went to closed down and in its peak it had six to seven class­rooms,’’ Hast­ings said.

Num­bers are no mea­sure of suc­cess though.

The 2-class­roomed school is see­ing 91 per cent of stu­dents at or above the na­tional stan­dards for read­ing, 83 per cent for maths and 74 per cent for writ­ing.

Those fig­ures are all well above the na­tional av­er­ages.

Hast­ings said there will be so many things to cel­e­brate dur­ing the labour week­end event.

The three-day cen­te­nary will in­clude a tour of the school, chat­ters and plat­ters, a cake cut­ting cer­e­mony, buf­fet din­ner and a mys­tery cruise.

Reg­is­ter be­fore Septem­ber 26.

Cel­e­bra­tion time: Ku­ranui Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Paula Hast­ings said her stu­dents are pumped for the school’s cen­te­nary.

Old school: Orig­i­nally known as Oko­roire School, there have been many changes since it first opened its doors in 1914.

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