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Dec 122018

After a week of heavy rain and flooding, Friday saw Wairarapa skies glowing bright and cheerful in time to celebrate the end of the school year at Kuranui College’s Garden Summer Party.

The day featured a student market and a matinee of performances taken from the college’s end of term art project What Lies Beneath, which also included an exhibition of the students’ work.

“Today’s market is all about the students setting up their own businesses, designing a product then selling it. This has given them an opportunity to learn about business and enterprise,” explained Kuranui Head of Junior College, Vicki Wish.

“They’ve been working incredibly hard over the last three weeks and they had to pitch their business ideas at the Dragons Den, get it okayed and then they spent the last two and half weeks making their product. It’s been a lot of hard work and long hours for the students, but they’ve come up with some amazing ideas and quite a few of them have sold out already.”

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A member of the Greytown Community browses the students’ stalls

Members of the public were invited to browse the wide range of stalls, selling products such as Christmas decorations using recycled materials, doggie treats, cookery books, tie-die clothing, hanging linen airers, hand-decorated lanterns and clocks – all made by the students.

One popular stall was the garden planters. Kuranui junior students Sam Goodman and Ballie Whyte made 15 planters of different sizes, by midday, the students were sold out and were taking new orders.

Whyte explained their strong sales pitch “Christmas is right around the corner and we’ve been telling people “this would be great for your missus” and then they’re like “I’ll call her and see what she thinks.” Then they end up buying them.”

Goodman said the biggest challenge was getting the sizing and the screws right. “We’ve been very lucky, PlaceMakers and ITM in Greytown hooked up us with multiple metres of wood and Mr Southey lent us his garage to build them in.”

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Ballie Whyte and Sam Goodman close a sale with a member of the public

Chris James, Manager of ITM Greytown, was impressed by the students. “We’ve had a few guys come into the shop and pitched a project that they are looking to do. We’ve tried to support it in the best way that we can, either though discounted product or producing some free product for them,” said James.

“They had to come in and explain what their concept was and what sort of materials they were looking for. Both myself and some of our staff helped them through some ideas and gave them suggestions on what they could use instead and from there they’ve picked up some of that stuff and built some pretty amazing things.

“I think one of the best things for me is seeing these young guys getting quite enthusiastic about something different and in quite an innovative way. It’s just great that the school has been able to do this for them – giving them a real sense of what it’s going to be like in the real world.”

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A youngster is delighted with her Christmas snowman

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Students Sam Goodman and Ballie Whyte enjoyed a profitable day at Kuranui’s Summer Garden Party

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Christmas decorations handmade by Kuranui students are an attraction for all ages

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More than 75 performing arts students from Kuranui College will be showcasing their project entitled What Lies Beneath at this Friday’s Summer Garden Party.

The end of year project considers what it means to be a New Zealander and aims to demystify the elements of performance that students struggle with such as devising, composing and choreography.

“We’ve been focusing on the process of creating new works rather than perfecting things,” explained Kuranui’s Performing Arts teacher Juanita McLellan. “We’re using an inquiry model, which I call the ‘Grandma’ method – lots of “What are you doing? That sounds wonderful… can you show me?’”

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To achieve this, teachers from the Kuranui Art department have organised end of term trips to Te Papa in Wellington, Cobblestones in Greytown and Kohunui Marae in Pirinoa. “We’ve thrown students into situations to be inspired. We took a trip to Te Papa, then challenged them to create a work based on the experience, which ended up as plays, music, dance and then challenged them to make improvements.

“We took a trip to Cobblestones to put limits on their resources, and their time, to create something wholly new, and unexpectedly they all started explaining what they were inspired by, before presenting their works less than two hours after arriving onsite.

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“On Friday, we travelled to Kohunui Marae to look at what it means to live on the lake, be Māori, and the responsibilities of living in the Pacific,” said McLellan.

“The students’ performance skills are improving and they are already producing works beyond level 1 NCEA. It’s just been really nice to see how the students have stepped up to meet every challenge we’ve set, and how they are growing in their own understanding of who and what they are, and what their own motivations are.”

Before their appearance at the Summer Garden Festival, the students will travel to Featherston and perform a concert in front of children from Featherston and St Teresa’s primary schools. The concert will be wholly student-led and student-designed.

“How is up to them. We’ve been supporting the students to explore new ideas without telling them exactly what to do. It’s a challenging process to step back and be “hands off” and not control the outcome, but we have already seen works that are mind-blowing and beyond what we expected from the project,” added McLellan.

The Kuranui Summer Garden Party is this Friday, 7 December between 10am-2pm. The public are also encouraged to go along and browse the arts and crafts stalls of Christmas goodies that have been designed and made by the students.

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South Wairarapa and Carterton educators, learners, iwi, and community members came together on Thursday evening at a Hui held at Kuranui College to discuss how to ensure young people experience success.

The aim of the evening was to share the focus of the South Wairarapa Kāhui Ako for the coming year. Led by teachers and principals from South Wairarapa and Carterton schools, the group hosted a range of discussion groups and asked community members for their input into what they thought about some of the ideas behind the focus, how they see them developing in the future and how they might be part of it.

“Kāhui Ako is all about building a community of learning, with a focus on our learners. Whilst we’re based in schools, we’re looking to involve the wider community and looking at the community in the broader sense. Whānau, iwi, businesses, everybody around the whole of the South Wairarapa and Carterton, and even nationally and internationally,” explained Carterton and Kāhui Ako Lead Principal Alison Woollard.

“Although Kāhui Ako is student-led and student-focused, we’re bringing together as many different new ideas as we can within our community to make a difference to the young people in Wairarapa.

“Some of the outcomes from the evening include knowing the why, how and what within a ‘culturally responsive environment’, underpinned by he waka eke noa! We’re all in this together!”

Principal of Featherston School Gina Smith said “It’s about students directing us and not us telling them. At the heart is Hauora, the well-being of all within our community.”

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Featherston Principal Gina Smith and colleague Jocelyn Kebbell lead the discussion around collaboration across the community.

Both Smith and her colleague Jocelyn Kebbell asked members of their discussion group what they thought collaboration across the community meant to them. “A good example of recent collaboration was when Featherston, South Featherston and St Teresa’s Primary Schools came together after the Wairarapa Kapa Haka Festival and put on a local performance for the students’ parents and whānau,” said Smith.

Alan Maxwell from Wairarapa Whānau Trust added to another discussion which was centred on making and grasping opportunities. “We should harness both technology and the energy of our youth to highlight our beautiful valley. We could use QR codes on po, along say a cycle trail, to tell the stories of Wairarapa – not just for our visitors but also for us. The kids could research and tell the stories that have real meaning for them.”

St Teresa’s Principal Jennifer Murth said the evening was a good way to gather information and hear other people’s views. “What does well-being mean to you in your own context, as it’s different to different people.”

“It’s great to have an opportunity to step out of your school bubble. We’ve already heard some excellent examples tonight of what’s going well in our community, like the Fab Feathy Fridays,” added teacher Alex Southall.

Greytown Primary School students Liam Gale and Claudia Hopkins took part in a student-led inquiry as part of the Kāhui Ako inquiry process. Their focus was on the school curriculum as they sent out a survey to students at other schools asking how they wanted to learn.

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Greytown students Claudia Hopkins and Liam Gale took part in a student-inquiry on the school curriculum

“What we found was students find the school day very repetitive and they always have maths at 9 o’clock, reading at midday and writing at two in the afternoon and it’s the same old thing,” said Gale. “The biggest thing we found is they want a variety of subjects they can learn, science being the biggest alongside performing arts, and especially dance and drama.”

“I went to my principal, showed her the survey results and said this is what the students want to learn, and how they want to learn and they would like more dance, drama and science. She actually put drama into our school and so our teachers learnt how to teach improv and drama games and we did a lot of improv. It was really fun,” added Hopkins.

“Just looking at the conversations so far this evening, they are so rich and hold such great ideas. We’re looking forward to getting back in touch soon with all the feedback,” concluded Woollard.

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Gladstone Principal Margaret Hyslop talks to members of the community about internal strengths