Bright pupils stretch imagination with innovations

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Queenstown’s bright–est young teens have celebrated a year’s effort of broadening horizons. 

Fifty-two Wakatipu High pupils in the school’s Angelo Programme for gifted youths showed off their projects at a special presentation day recently. 

Included in the mix were budding rocket scientists, an engineer who created a boat motor cut-out switch, novelists, robotics engineers and chemical scientists – and they’re all aged 13-15. 

The programme – which takes teens out of regular classes for one day a week – encourages critical think­ing, research, reasoning, recording and reflection. 

“The aim is to encourage and enable students to consider different perspectives, to test their beliefs and assumptions and to effectively present their discoveries,” Angelo co-facilitator Carolyn Kirkpatrick says. 

Angelo was established 13 years ago and has grown significantly this year with the help of Kirkpatrick, who’s volunteered hundreds of hours of her time. Run on minimal funding, the aim is to make the programme more sustainable for the future – this means securing staff, resources and space. 

“I would like to continue in some capacity but it’s not for the betterment of the programme for it to be continuing on a voluntary basis because that’s not a sustainable model,” says Kirkpatrick, a biologist with a Masters in civil and environmental engineering. 

Queenstown businessman Jim Boult, founding patron and Angelo Trust chairman, says the trust is applying for grants to help support the programme. 

“With the stability that Carolyn’s brought to the programme it’s enabled us to go to suitable organisations and seek a decent sum of money.” 

Principal Steve Hall says the school would welcome any funding to help pay for Angelo.