Tuesday, 23 February 2010

WAITATI SCHOOL (column)

WAITATI SCHOOL

by Jenna Packer

What's with the barricades? Passers-by would have noticed the large
construction in progress at the main entrance to Waitati School. This is
actually the first step in a project by carver Alex Whitiker to create a
beautiful waharoa, entranceway to the school grounds. The children are
thrilled to be involved in working with a real artist. They will be learning
about whakairo (traditional carving) design first hand, as well as
contributing themselves to this significant symbol of welcome. This is a
wonderful gift to the pupils and to all of us who visit Waitati school.

The edible garden has been busily producing food while we've been on
holiday. The birds were lucky enough to harvest some of it, but there is
still plently left for the children to use and extra to share. The school
was able to give a lovely box of veges to the Anglican Food Bank. We're
lucky to have such a great growing environment, and occasionally even the
right weather!

On the subject of growing, on the 13 February the School
Garden was on the Weggies Open Orchard walkabout tour, and the following day
a bunch of Weggies returned to do a much-needed summer pruning, general
weeding and garden assistance. Thank you Weggies!

We are bound to be seeing two new(ish) faces in the kitchen garden from
time to time this year. Sue Roberts-Blyth and Munirah Burra are our two new
teachers, joining the dynamic duo, Dave and Jayne Fitzgerald.

Munirah Burra is the New Entrant to Year 2 teacher. Munirah loves
traveling and has lived and taught in the Australian desert! Reading
is one of her favourite
things to do, and her class are finding great descriptive language
inspiration in Roald Dahl's book 'The Twits' at the moment. Some of the
books she has been sharing with the children recently are 'Snif-Snuf-Snap!'
by Lynley Dodd, and Eric Carle's 'Have You Seen My Cat?'

As well as loving reading and gardening, Munirah has a real passion
for ceramics, and has been known to bring her pottery wheel to school
for some really tactile,
hands-on lessons! Her daughter's name is Nadia, and her cats are Asterix and
Obelix. They also have two chooks with big hair named Elvis and Priscilla.
What Munirah loves about Waitati is "the close-knit community, the parental
enthusiasm and input, and also the contributions made by people from the
community , who might not even have children at school here." Oh, and she
loves chilli - the hotter the better!

Sue Roberts-Blyth is sharing the senior class with Dave Fitzgerald
this year. She really enjoys the in depth discussions you can have
with children of this age. Her
class are enjoying 'Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters' by Rick Riordan,
and the Antony Horowitz books are very popular. Sue loves that she's able to
"incorporate care for our environment into our teaching". Having moved back
from Auckland last year, she still hasn't stopped saying how lucky they are
to be living in this part of the country (we like this!) and in a community
which nurtures things like knowing your neighbours, walking and biking
places, gardening, art... don't get her started! Sue's favourite food
is "tomatoes", but she says that next year she'll have to try growing them
in a glasshouse!

We are also looking forward to meeting our 'adopted' scientist and our
engineer: thanks again to University of Otago for lending some great brains
to work with the children on cool projects. Watch this space! Watch too – or
rather listen out for – the roving mirimba troupe, who were so impressive
last year that they are bowing to public demand and going to take their
talents out and about, on the streets of Dunedin.

One last thought, speaking of 'out and about': the weather is finally so
stunning that at least if our children have to be at school in the sun,
they're in a beautiful spot – no concrete jungle here! And for most, it's only a
hop, skip and jump back home afterwards. Here's to local, country schools!

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