Final assembly pleasure to attend

In this week's Wakatipu Echo, Wakatipu High School Board of Trustees head of communications Greg Turner says, as the school is preparing to bid farewell to its senior pupils, it is also looking to the future and the resources required to ensure Queenstown secondary school pupils have access to the technology necessary in a modern age.

This time of year is an interesting one in any high school.

Many of the senior pupils are preparing to end this part of their educational lives and move on to a new learning environment (whether that is in the workplace or at university).

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the final full school assembly, the last formal opportunity for those leaving and those continuing to interact.

Moving speeches were made by this year's head boy and girl.

Daisy Hilton delivered a poem she had penned especially for the occasion, exhibiting some of her many and diverse skills (all of those who witnessed her performance as Sandy in this year's musical will not be surprised).

And the ever-entertaining Max Gunn had the school hall in stitches with his consummate wit and especially created visual presentation.

Once again it was impossible not to be humbled by the talents, integrity and enthusiasm of our pupils.

It was also an opportunity for the school to welcome Paul O'Connor (the former principal of James Hargest) into the fold.

A waiata followed by the school haka made for a great welcome and his thoughtful speech exhibited why his leadership skills are so admired.

While saying goodbye to so many special people is always tinged with sadness, for those continuing on or starting at the high school, times are exciting.

The new sprung floor and additional classrooms in the gymnasium have been transformational.

As basketball coach Oded Nathan remarked, he'd never seen his team throw themselves around with such enthusiasm.

Work on the new drama and music block progresses well and that, along with more modifications to existing buildings, will see WHS with many truly innovative and contemporary learning spaces.

Having been a school that has grown organically in a rather utilitarian way, the modernisation that is under way should prove inspirational to pupils and staff alike.

Also on the agenda is the modernisation of our school library.

The National Library of New Zealand has embarked on a project to advance the development of school libraries for the future.

Obviously, the increasing availability of educational material and knowledge resources online has altered the playing field somewhat.

While there will always be a place for books in a library, we also need to recognise the growing digital resources and the opportunities that are therefore presented.

Flexible spaces and ultra-fast broadband are two key components that need to be provided.

For all of the political talk of fibre into schools, it is the cost of the bandwidth and data that remains a significant hurdle that will need to be overcome.

If the current circumstances prevail, we will need to find in the vicinity of an extra $100,000 per year to provide the bandwidth necessary for a modern learning environment.

Hopefully, the close to 50% of our school community who have yet to contribute their school donation will recognise the need we have for these resources.

While undoubtedly times are tough, let's hope it is not our children's educational opportunities that suffer.


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