One-year-old on school wait­ing list

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MIRI SCHROETER

Gemma Henry has been on the wait­ing list for a pop­u­lar ru­ral Horowhenua school since she was 9 months old.

It’s a school so pop­u­lar that names are drawn from a bal­lot by the prin­ci­pal un­der po­lice su­per­vi­sion.

Gemma, now 1, and her par­ents will wait for years in an­tic­i­pa­tion to see if Kop­utaroa School will be Gemma’s stamp­ing ground.

Her 4-year-old brother, Evan, finds out in Novem­ber whether he’ll be at­tend­ing. Mother Ka­t­rina Henry said she would have one heart­bro­ken boy if his name is not picked in the school lot­tery.

Kop­utaroa School is about 10 kilo­me­tres from Levin in a small farm­ing com­mu­nity. It has a teach­ing sys­tem where three teach­ers share three year groups. It has a veg­etable gar­den, lamb and calf day and a com­puter for each pupil.

Henry would rather have Evan en­rol there than at a Levin school just me­tres away from home.

If her son’s name doesn’t get picked, plan B is mov­ing into Kop­utaroa’s zone.

‘‘He’s got his heart set on it,’’ Henry said.

Evan and his sis­ter are among about 50 chil­dren on the wait­ing list, which also in­cludes 4-year-old Liam Wood­mass from Levin.

Liam’s fa­ther Kieran Wood­mass said he would move in with his mother-in-law, who lives in Kop­utaroa, if his son didn’t get a spot.

Rent­ing out their Levin home and mov­ing in with fam­ily was go­ing to great lengths, but it would mean Liam would get au­to­matic en­try to a school that of­fered a ru­ral Wood­mass said.

About two-thirds of the pupils are out of the school zone – an ex­pe­ri­ence, area that does not in­clude Shan­non and Levin.

The school is al­ready burst­ing at its seams, so prin­ci­pal Danielle Ma­clean has no choice but to run a bal­lot sys­tem.

There was so much in­ter­est in the school that one par­ent even tried to put her un­born child on the wait­ing list, Ma­clean said.

But, no mat­ter what age they join the wait­ing list, their chance of get­ting a spot didn’t in­crease, Ma­clean said.

There are 13 pri­mary schools in Levin, but Ma­clean said Kop­utaroa School ap­pealed to par­ents be­cause of its coun­try feel.

‘‘We are an ur­ban school in a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Lin­ton Coun­try School, about 15 kilo­me­tres from Palmer­ston North, also of­fers chil­dren a ru­ral ex­pe­ri­ence.

But prin­ci­pal Katy Marsh said a lot of peo­ple didn’t know the school, of six pupils, was there.

Lin­ton Coun­try School is tucked away on Ak­ers Rd, off State High­way 57, sur­rounded by farm­land.

At the start of 2017, Cruiz Strick­ett, 7, was the only pupil.

De­spite los­ing the class­mates he had last year, Cruiz stuck it out at the ru­ral Lin­ton school with a swim­ming pool, gar­dens and enough space for hun­dreds of chil­dren.

Since then the roll has slowly in­creased and Marsh said it would con­tinue to grow.

Each child had their own lamb or calf to care for at the school and soon the pupils would learn how to cook with veg­eta­bles from the gar­den, Marsh said.

The en­vi­ron­ment al­lowed chil­dren to learn things they wouldn’t in city schools, she said.

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