School jubilee gathers momentum
Teaching giraffes to dance, the X files, the Quadrathon(s), the cattle account, a certain gum tree and the purchase of the church next door, and you have just some of the stories to tell as Waiwera South School gets set to celebrate 150 years at its jubilee next year.
Taking place on February 15-16, advertising billboards are now in place beside State Highway 1 on either side of the Waiwera turn off and planning well underway.
Jubilee committee member Patrick Bowden is overseeing the production of a new book (1994 – 2018) to update the history of the school and district.
The first book, From the Days of Our Glory by Ruth Telford, was published in 1993 to coincide with the 121st anniversary of the school.
Besides accounts of strong community commitment, novel fundraisers and adventurous school camps, the new book, edited by Helen Telford, will also trace the impact and evolution of the significant and often controversial national education reform known as Tomorrow’s Schools.
Implemented in 1989, governance of the school shifted from the Otago Education Board to a newly formed Board of Trustees nominated and elected by the school community.
This new local leadership role provided major opportunities such as the power of the board to employ the principal themselves and then later to opt for bulk funding.
There were also challenges, such as learning to work with the newly formed Ministry of Education and the required development and implementation of policies.
It was a steep learning curve and remains so.
For example, a new trustee in 2016 had 25 Ministry of Education (MoE) acronyms to get to know.
Of these, the least forgettable is ERO – the Education Review Office whose three yearly reports on the school’s performance are published.
Securing a favourable review to support the reputation of the school is critical.
An ODT report in 2002 reported that it ‘‘received strong community support and was regarded by ERO as a hub of the community’’.
The school aims to set students up ‘‘to learn for life’’.
Included in the book are the stories of 12 former pupils in the section, Where are they Now?
Subsequent careers reveal a Rocket Lab engineer, a genetic science researcher in Europe and an air traffic controller.
An impressive line-up for a little rural school with a roll that fluctuates from 40 to 60.
The book also touches on the changing rural landscape in the Waiwera District, including the shift to dairy farming and amalgamation of farms.
The role of women in rural life has also changed, as many women diversified into new businesses or worked off farm with the tough economic times of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Well-illustrated and containing lists of school rolls from 1994 to now, class photos, lists of trustees, principals and staff and featuring student designs, the book will be available for the jubilee at a retail price of about $30.
As part of celebrations the school is collecting anecdotes, memories and images for its facebook page@150th Waiwera South Community and School Reunion.
Contributor Helen Telford is the daughter of Ruth and Don Telford, whose family still farm in the Clutha District. Helen grew up in Waiwera and, with her two younger brothers, attended Waiwera South School. She is now based in Dunedin. Letters should not exceed 250 words and must have a full name, address and phone number. The news director reserves the right to edit, abridge or withhold any correspondence without explanation. Letters may be referred to others for right of reply. Email: email@example.com
Helen Telford is editing a new book, which updates the original written by her mother Ruth Telford, for the upcoming 150th jubilee in February.