School ju­bilee gath­ers mo­men­tum

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

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:

He­len Telford is edit­ing a new book, which up­dates the orig­i­nal writ­ten by her mother Ruth Telford, for the up­com­ing 150th ju­bilee in Fe­bru­ary.

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