School starts with a bang

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Wakatipu High opens its doors tomorrow to the largest number of Year 9 students that it’s had in years. 

A bumper 160 pupils are enrolled in the school’s junior year – well up from previous intakes of between 100 and 140. 

Management believes a positive turn-around in the school’s reputation is a major factor – and it’s the first sign the annual private school exodus may be declining. 

“We’ve got students coming from all over the place – from overseas, other parts of New Zealand and all the contributing schools of the area,” assistant principal Eleanor Quaid says. 

In the past, Wakatipu High has had limited numbers from local primary schools like Arrowtown School and St Joseph’s Primary. 

Quaid says this year the uptake from those schools is between 80-90 per cent. 

“Talking to Arrowtown School parents, they are making a deliberate choice to come to Wakatipu High rather than send their children away. It’s the same at St Joseph’s.” 

The recession hasn’t played a part in parents choosing not to send their kids to expensive private schools outside the district, Quaid adds. 

“A lot of parents came to our new entrants’ open night and made their decision after attending. Quite a few had been to open days at other schools and they chose Wakatipu.” 

The board of trustees has been determined to keep more local kids at Wakatipu High for their secondary education and believed the change of school leadership would help. 

Principal Steve Hall, hired last year, says the increase is “a real vote of confidence”. 

“People here do have choices but the feedback we’re getting is the community is really positive about the school and they can see things have settled down. We’re definitely going forward.” 

Wakatipu High opens for all other year groups on Monday.

Kids delve into 130 years of history

These St Joseph’s new entrants will help make history at the Queenstown primary school this year. 

Pictured holding decades-old school documents are (from left) Amarni Souness, Scarlette Henderson and Polly Bennetts – they and about 150 other youngsters began the new school year yesterday. 

The local primary turns 130 this year and its Catholic church celebrates its 150th. 

St Joseph’s pupils will spend part of their education learning about the history of their school, founded by Dominican sisters in 1883. 

“They’ll be learning old stories by interviewing people and going through archives and then they’ll tell the stories in a performance,” principal Trisch Inder says. 

Celebrations to mark the parish’s first Mass are on March 2-3. The school holds its special occasion on September 20-22. 

Arrowtown School, which resumes next Thursday, also turns 150 this year.