School marking 125 years


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Over Easter weekend, the weather came to the party as Kaponga Primary School celebrated its 125th jubilee.

More than 320 people registered for the weekend, including 12 former students who travelled from Australia.

The official proceedings began on Friday night with a Meet and Greet at the Kaponga Town Hall, where more than 160 people caught up with old schoolmates.

Fine weather on Saturday morning meant that the decade photos were able to be taken outside the junior block of the school. After lunch, the official welcome in the marquee began with a powhiri by Randal Rei, followed by South Taranaki District Council mayor Ross Dunlop, who talked of his grandmother being a student at the school and the challenges that the community would have faced in the early days of the school.

Jubilee chairperson Alison Smith then spoke of the history of the school since the Centennial in 1991, and in particular about the changes the school went through with mergers from 2003. School Principal Shane Downs followed on with what has happened with the school since he arrived in 2007 and outlined where the school is today with a strong focus on technology.

The Jubilee cake was cut by 99-year-old Irene Walker nee Brewer from Levin, assisted by her brother Ian who then gave an entertaining speech about his early days in Kaponga. The children's cake was cut by Maddi Butler and Ella Krutz who represented families that have had four generations of children attend Kaponga School.

Proceedings then moved outside where a wreath was laid in memory of deceased students and staff, followed by the lifting of the Centennial time capsule. The contents included a book where the students and staff of 1991 had written in their names, copies of local newspapers from May 1991, and other Centennial memorabilia.

The school classrooms were open for the afternoon with teachers demonstrating how classes are now taught with 21st century technology.

The dinner and dance was held on Saturday evening with former student Mark Robinson as the guest speaker, talking about his time at Kaponga School and his rugby career.

Sunday began with a celebration service led by Reverend Peter Barleyman and entertainment by the Kaponga School choir led by Helen Duff, Words with the Birds and students Harrison Downs and Jacob Berquist playing guitar and drums.

The rest of Sunday was a Fun Day at the school with activities including Dave Hunger and his collection of bikes, sack races and tugs of war. The Jubilee Parade was led by the Stratford Pipe Band, followed by students Harrison Downs and Luke Crowley who carried the Jubilee banner from Victoria Park on to Egmont Street and up to the school. The Kaponga School float was followed by a variety of vintage cars and machinery and floats from the Taranaki Swiss Club, Kaponga Playcentre, Kaponga Rugby Club and local families were among others in the parade.

Jubilee Committee Chairperson Alison Smith said the weekend had been an amazing event to be involved in and the Fun Day brought in the wider community to make a great finish to the jubilee.

- Stratford Press

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