Every month or so, Opunake High School produces a page for the Coastal News.
On the right is a link to our most recent feature.
Just as the year was beginning to wind-up, news came through from the Taranaki Regional Council that together with the Opunake Loop Track committee, we had been announced as winners of the 2020 Environmental Education in Action award –
“The Opunake High School and the Opunake Loop Track Committee are leading players in a massive environmental restoration project encircling Ōpunake and involving scores of townsfolk of all ages. The popular walking and cycling Loop Trail has been extended into a complete circuit, with volunteers from many groups busy planting 3000 donated natives along its complete length. Their 10-year goal is 20,000 plants. Opunake High School students are building, and managing predator traps along its length of the track. The school’s also donated 300 plants, and students have cut donated carpet into squares for weed suppression. This multi-generational project deepens residents’ enjoyment of the environment and healthy living. It also reflects the High School’s status as a Silver Enviroschool with a strong focus on sustainability.”
The hard mahi that our students, led and role -modelled by the Sustainability Academy, has not gone unnoticed by the community. From the carpet cutting by Mr Skinner and Mr Hooper’s Outdoor Education Academy to the planting and setting up predator traps by the junior whanau mentor groups, the unpleasant job of checking and re-setting these traps by the junior trappers and the contribution by our Year 9 & 10 SciPla class for planting a significant amount of trees. Ka pai koutou!
This project has been a great demonstration of links between school and community as well as enhancing our local environment and ecosystems. 2021 will see more trees planted, more trapping, native bird counting and murals painted at the bridge underpasses. As the great David Attenborough recently said, we need to ‘re-wild’ our planet, and this we are doing in Opunake one tree, one trap, and one more dead rat at a time. Our DREAM is becoming DREAMS with a big ‘S’ for Sustainability.
Over the last couple of years the Pohutukawa Trophy lost a bit of its shine, thus in 2020 we made the big effort to restore the Mana of this illustrious award.
Aside from the big three events – Athletics, Swimming Sports and Cross Country, we were able to bring something different to the table this year – Four Square, the Puanga Games, Daffodil Day Dress-up and Arm Wrestling.
Each Hapu had its moment in the sun, Karo showed their smarts and swimming skills, Awhina were utterly dominant in the Netball, Rimu displayed their crafty side and Totara muscled up when it mattered.
The Volleyball in Term 4 was probably the best event of the year, with all four Hapu a chance to win into the last round of games, with Rimu taking out the title in a gripping last match.
At the end of the day, when it was all said and done, and after much banter and other sporting cliche’s, it couldn’t be denied that one Hapu was just that little bit better so…
Congratulations Totara – Pohutukawa Trophy Winners 2020
It’s the last period of March 23rd 2020, a time and date that will forever come to mind at the mention of the Coronavirus. It was the last period as I jostled through the tumultuous congregation of pupils outside Room 11. Jacinda just had announced the closure of all schools and non-essential businesses, as we prepared to transition to Alert Level 4. Coming home that afternoon, much like many of my peers, the sense of uncertainty was overwhelming and for the following days, grey clouds hovered. I remember feeling this profound sense of anxiety and panic.
By this point, Covid-19 had devastated millions across the globe and continued to do so within New Zealand with an increasing number of cases as the days progressed. Covid-19 posed many challenges as we were forced to swiftly adapt to self-isolation and social distancing guidelines, correspondence learning and the general disruption that was caused.
Two thousand and twenty described in a few words is awkwardly avoiding people in the streets, cancelling plans, missing the crew, bubbles, clusters, new normals, staying home and flattening the curve.
As a Year 11 student and in my second year of NCEA, there was more than enough work to keep me occupied. Learning at home definitely posed its fair few challenges but also allowed me as a student to complete my work without distractions, to ease the burden of heavy work loads at NCEA Level 2, take time for myself and see my peers and teachers in a new light.
A highlight for me was those 12CHEM zoom calls with Mr Blackstock almost daily and I believe that a massive thank you to all of the staff is needed for their continued support through these unprecedented, chaotic and uncertain times. Our new, monotonous lives seemed a little brighter knowing that we are not alone in this war against the invisible enemy. Coming out of lockdown, it’s fair to say that we all have a much greater appreciation for the little things in life, as cliche as that may sound. It has taught us to be grateful for our whanau and friends, to adapt, it has given us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and how we work best when it comes down to it and ultimately, although we continue to social distance, we are closer than ever, as a school, a community and a nation; something that should not be scoffed at.
Since coming out of lockdown, students and teachers alike have worked incredibly hard to achieve their goals, to rekindle relationships and make the most of the remaining 2020 year. Our second outbreak, where the majority of New Zealand entered Alert Level Two, saw the cancellation of many sports and cultural events once again. Another blow to all but once more, we bounced back, we succeeded and we came out stronger than ever. Not long ago, I came across this quote, a powerful message that sums up my experience as a student through Covid-19.
“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” – Elizabeth Edwards
A massive pat on the back to all students and staff, for their resilience is needed as we come to the conclusion of a ‘whirlwind year’ and let us hope that two thousand and twenty-one is a little less chaotic.
From me to you, Noho ora mai.
On Tuesday 2nd July, Hellen Burley pulled up in our carpark and proceeded to walk into Whaea Kerry Walsh’ Alternative Education room carrying several bags.
In those bags were over 100 ball gowns, and not just gowns from the 80’s. Brand. New. Ball. Gowns! And most with the price tag still attached.
Hellen – whose her son, Daniel is in Year 13 – has donated these to our kura, so that no young lady wishing to attend this years ball (or next year, or the one after that etc) has to go without!
But that wasn’t the end of her generosity, she then took half-a-dozen girls of the ball committee down to the salon, and booked not one, not two, not three, but 21!!! appointments for our girls to get their glam on for the ball, she has also sorted make-up as well!
This amazingly generous act of kindness has been picked up by media across the country, going to print in the Coastal News, the Taranaki Daily News and online at the Taranaki Community News and on Stuff.
Words can’t express how grateful the school and our senior girls are towards Hellen’s generosity, the 2019 Ball might just be the best ever!
Opunake High School, together with Sandfords Event Centre was privileged to host the 2019 Nga Manu Korero and Pae Rangatahi speech and kapahaka regional competitions at the end of June.
For our rangatahi this was a fantastic opportunity to stand in front of their peers and represent their culture. For Thomas Tito, his opportunity to speak in the junior section was the culmination of several months preparation (check out Tom’s account under student achievement). In the Pae Rangatahi section, the members of our own Te Roopu Kapahaka o Te Haumoana joined with students from Stratford High as one group, unfortunately, illness in the week leading up to the competition left us light on numbers, however those who were able to perform delivered a mighty account of themselves, and should feel full of pride in their achievement.
For more images, check out the albums on our Facebook page.