Today was the first day of the new term at Olng’arua School. During assembly each child told the school what they had done during the break. Without exception all the children reported that they had been herding livestock during the school holiday. Most had been herding goats and sheep near to their homes, but a few of the older boys had been herding cows at temporary livestock corals several days walk away.
We also asked each child what they were most looking forward to about being back at school. Many mentioned the food (this was not a surprise), some said that they were looking forward to reading or having books read to them (this especially pleased me), and there were a range of other replies including one boy who stated plainly that he was relieved not to have to herd cows any more. However, by far the most common answer, from girls and from boys, was football! It seems we are a school obsessed. Luckily we had a suspicion that the kids felt this way and had planned to play football in the afternoon.
Before that though we wanted to establish the school’s first ever student council. We hope that the council will help teach the children about the basics of democratic process and to develop a sense of collective and individual responsibility. It is also intended that it will help the children to take an active part in the decisions that affect the school.
After lunch the whole school went to the football field (a conveniently year round green space, it is close to the school and on the edge of a permanent marsh). The first short matches were played between small teams and standard rules applied. The final match involved the whole school (including staff) divided into two teams. Currently the marsh area has encroached on our playing field and we only have about half the normal available space. The marshy area had been studiously avoided during the first, more serious, games. Not so in the final match. Here the rules were so loosely applied they were almost absent and the children took to the marsh with relish. You won’t be surprised to hear that the mud and water seemed to add considerably to the fun for most of the children.
It’s good to be back.
(With grateful thanks to Peter Bender & Ann Ostberg who supplied footballs and goal markers on behalf of the Melody Taft Soccer Games)