The Karāpiro School community came together Friday 11 to celebrate 100 years on the current school site.
The school actually opened 137 years ago on a site further down Karāpiro Road, and today is the last in the area still standing after Taotaoroa No1 and No2 Schools, Whitehall and Karāpiro Hydro schools closed many years ago.
The move in 1922, at the wish of the then school committee, was granted to move the school to its current site, closer to the village.
On Friday the school seized the opportunity to open its doors to the community and to share the learning of local histories the school has spent the last year researching,
The celebration day began with open classrooms where the visitors, received with welcome letters from Karāpiro students, shared their school stories.
A highlight was an assembly which included the school’s first kapa haka group performing waiata and haka. Current students Leo Smith-Serei and Ava Williams spoke on behalf of the students, reflecting the changes in education over time.
Board Chairperson Marilynn Jones read a letter from Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern congratulating the school on its celebrations. Principal Tina-Maree Thatcher read a letter of congratulations from Mr Marcus Freke, previous principal of Karāpiro School and now Director of Education, Waikato, for the Ministry of Education.
Returning student Burt Tuhi recalled fond memories of lifelong friendships made at the school in the 1960’s. He was honoured by ringing the school hand-bell – which is still in daily use at the school.
Les Bennet was a student at the school in the 1950’s and spoke to the group, retelling stories of crossing the road at lunchtime to buy ice-cream at the dairy. David McNair told stories of lighting the fire in the classroom early in the morning when he was the teaching principal.
Tina-Maree Thatcher said the day was thoroughly enjoyed by staff, students and families and the school enjoyed being able to open its doors and share the stories of schooldays together.
“It was a really special day celebrating everything that is special about Karāpiro School – past and present.”