A TINY country school can expect a massive influx of pupils this October — albeit of the more mature variety.
Waitahuna School, near Lawrence, will celebrate its 150th jubilee during Labour Weekend and organisers said they expected more than 200 former pupils, families and friends of the school to attend.
Organising committee chairman Tony Homer — himself a former pupil — said the influx would set the town abuzz, and be a fitting celebration for the ‘‘great little school’’.
‘‘When I was here from ’77 to ’83, the senior school alone had about 25 pupils, and the school as a whole probably 40 or more.
‘‘That contrasts with, I believe, about 180 pupils in its gold rush heyday, and just five today.’’
Mr Homer said the committee had settled on a ‘‘standard jubilee format’’ for the weekend.
‘‘We want to keep it simple and low cost for people.
‘‘We’ll have a Friday night meet-and-greet; bus tours on the old school routes on Saturday morning; and a relaxed dinner with some stories shared by local identities and guests on Saturday night.
‘‘Sunday we’ll have sports day and a barbecue to see people off.’’
The jubilee was a celebration of Waitahuna School and other smaller schools in the district that had since closed.
‘‘The 150th relates to the beginning of Waitahuna School . . . There was also Waitahuna Gully School, which started in 1868, and Mt Stuart School locally, which closed and got absorbed into town over time.’’
Mr Homer said the school had always been and remained a ‘‘hub’’ for the catchment of about 300 people.
‘‘The school, fire brigade and hall give the place a village feel and sense of community.
‘‘It’s important for the area’s identity.’’
He said its present low roll was simply a ‘‘blip’’ often experienced by rural schools as farming populations waxed and waned.