Opinion: Rural schools offer unique characteristics

Gustave Eiffel has a quite impressive tower in Paris named after him, so does Donald Trump in New York, but I can do one better.

I have a swing in Clyde School’s refurbished playground named after me.

At a special school ceremony during the first assembly of the year, I had the honour of cutting the ribbon and taking the swing for a test run in front of the whole school.

I was proud, but understandably cautious about my public display as a "swinger".

During my tenure as principal at Clyde, I had "face planted" when doing an inaugural lap of the school’s new scooter track.

Public humiliation, bent glasses and a few facial scratches were the result of me overcooking my speed on a particularly tight right hand bend now known as "The Corner of Death".

There is something special about New Zealand’s rural schools and we have some real gems in Central Otago.

Wander through the grounds of your local school and you will get a sense of the uniqueness of our schools and their communities.

You will find school grounds that have been made into attractive spaces, usually developed with local labour and enthusiastic fundraising.

A school motto and logo is often prominently displayed to show the values and aspirations of the school community.

The words respectful, ambitious, connected and enthusiastic feature in Clyde School’s vision and these values are given meaning through a child’s time at the school.

Enviroschool programmes are well established in Central Otago schools.

During your wander you may find predator monitoring and trapping, water quality monitoring, native planting, wetland restoration and school gardens, all promoting understanding and respect for our environment and connection with our communities.

Visual and performing arts are alive and well in our schools and you’ll see children’s artwork and visual references to Central Otago’s history and cultural heritage.

When I have had the opportunity to visit schools in other countries, I was surprised that many were rather characterless public institutions.

It made me appreciate the unique and special early childhood, primary and secondary schools in Central Otago where our children begin their education journey.

— Retired Clyde School principal Doug White