February, a time of new beginnings for many five years olds as they take their first steps into school and for many older children it’s the time they graduate to college and it’s a sigh of relief for many parents as schools begin their new year.
With five primary schools and Ōtaki College, which takes students from year seven to 13 plus the two kura, where children can spend all their school days from new entrant to year 13, Ōtaki families have a number of options available for their children’s education.
Two schools, Manakau and St Peter Chanel, welcomed new principals, Deb Logan at Manakau and Moarikura (Sandy) Johnson at SPC. All schools reported having a number of new enrolments across all class levels.
Ōtaki School was the first to open its doors this term on February 2. On the first day they had 15 new students, across the three pathways, Matariki English (mainstream), Kia Manawanui (bi-lingual) and Te Korowai Whakamana (te reo Maori immersion).
“Fantastic! Good start to the year with everyone ‘full-on 100 miles per hour’!” principal Chris Derbidge said. “We’re enjoying the beautiful weather with lots of swimming.”
They had their school picnic at Waikanae pools on February 10 and now their non-education energies are into preparing for the school gala on March 19.
Waitohu School opened the following day with 22 new pupils including 10 five year old beginners. Principal Maine Curtis said the year was off to a good start.
“We farewelled some students, off to Ōtaki College and welcomed a number of newcomers,” he said. “Our numbers are steady, about 250. We’ve started back into learning, everyone’s loving the lovely weather and looking forward to a great term.”
They’re already into all the “things” they usually do, inside the classrooms and out, with the school picnic coming up Friday February 26 when they’re off the Waikanae Pools. Year five and six classes go to Kapiti Island the first week in March and class visits to Wellington Zoo the following week.
The big item this term is preparing for a major fundraiser, their gala on April 10.
Te Horo School
Craig Vidulich, principal Te Horo School, reported a “nice settled start to the year.”
They had 18 new pupils on the first day back and now have a roll of around 220 students filling their nine classrooms. Outside the classroom the swimming programme is going well.
The school picnic will involve a walk or hike down the Waikanae River track and having their picnic at the Otaihanga Domain at the end of the walk. The senior students will be off to camp shortly, this year to the Paekakariki Motor Camp, as their usual campsite at the Ōtaki Forks is closed by the huge slip at Blue Bluff.
Mr Vidulich reported the construction of their new, large multipurpose hall is going well, the outer cladding is in place and they hope to have it completed by the middle of the year.
“We’re looking forward to another exciting year,” he said.
Manakau’s new principal, Deb Logan said they’d had a great start to the year.
‘We have healthy pupil numbers, with several new families moving into the district we have six new pupils with lots of new entrants expected over the year,” she said. They have over 90 pupils on the roll, four teaching staff plus the principal. One of the new ventures will be the construction of a cycle track for the junior classes.
The community barbecue will be at the school on March 6.
Ōtaki College began the year with 110 new students, 28 more than they anticipated across all year levels.
The teaching staff had come back in a week early for professional development for e-learning (Chromebooks) and work on the PB4L (Positive Behaviour for Learning) and restorative practices, used in the college.
“We’ve had a brilliant start to the year,” principal Andy Fraser said. “Overall we had pretty good NCEA result, with an increased number of merit and excellence endorsements across the three levels. We had a very successful pass rate and our best ever number at level three number.”
And last year 98 per cent of students leaving Ōtaki College had achieved a minimum level two NCEA
(National Certificate in Educational Achievement), the governments expected minimum qualification is that is 85 per cent of school leavers has achieved level two.
Mr Fraser said he was “thrilled” at the number of students and parents (86 per cent pick-up) who went into the college the week before school started, to attend the course counselling opportunities, “This makes for stability in courses when lessons start,” he said.
The powhiri on the first morning went very well with a strong turnout of new students and families.
The powhiri, a formal welcome, has been a tradition at the college for many years, it’s a time when all new teachers, students and their families are welcome into the wider school “family – whanau.
The swimming sports proved to be a great day – last year the swimmers were rained out of the pool by torrential rain! The annual athletics championships were be held on Friday February 26, some very competitive events can be seen around the field, with the day’s finale the 4×100 metre relay between staff and senior students.
“I couldn’t be happier,” exclaimed Mr Fraser. “The Heads of School have really stepped up to their new roles, attending training sessions both at the end of the school year and before the new school year began. It’s been a great start to the new year!
Te Kura-a-iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano
Te Kura-a-iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano, spokesperson, Kerimihana Heke said their kura had got off to a busy start with about 220 students from new entrant to year 13. Senior students have been away at a week-long noho marae, they hosted another school for a few days and now the years seven to nine classes are preparing for their camp.
Classrooms are busy as the staffing numbers are at a good level.
One of the priorities this term is the preparing senior students for the kapa haka National Secondary Schools championships next month. From the sports division, they have 11 students travelling with the New Zealand team to the World Waka Ama champs in Australia, for which the school is helping to raise funds. There is a year seven and eight softball team playing in the interschool weekly games and the two rugby teams, the first and second XV’s made up of players from the two kura and Ōtaki College playing under the Rahui “umbrella” have been selected.
It may sound school is one long outdoor ‘fun”, but classroom time is operating and lessons expected to be learnt.
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O te Rito
At Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O te Rito principal Heni Wilson reported they had had an “awesome” start to the year. They were very busy, as everyone else is at the beginning of the year. They have increased roll numbers especially at the new entrant class and held their marae camp last week which was very successful, with all the students from five to 18 years.
They have a full calendar for the year, including two major events, they will be will be hosting the National Kurukaupapa Hui, the other celebrating their 25th anniversary since the school first opened in February 1991. The first six months were based at the Te Wananga-o-Raukawa before moving to their own site in October.
“Everybody still has their good energy levels, we’re fully staffed and we’re all looking to a great year,” she said.
St Peter Chanel
St Peter Chanel began the year with some new students, including two five year old new entrants. MS Johnson said they had had a great start to the year with “great enthusiasm among the school and parish to the wider changes and adjustments.” They are looking to reaffirm the school’s special character as a Catholic Maori school and welcoming new families to the wider whanau.