The Boys Are Back

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Caption: The original building from 1930 is now needing desperate repair.

St Stephen’s boarding school for boys’, is looking to reopen its doors after being closed for over a decade.

Te Mano o Tipene, or the St Stephen’s Old Boys’ Association, have been discussing plans to reopen the school after it was closed in the year 2000, due to high debts, poor achievement and chronic bullying.

Secretary of the old boys’ association, Dean Kidd says “we don’t want to open the school simply because we’re all old boys’, but that is a driving factor.”

A submission has been put forward to the Ministry of Education, in which they aim to have the school open by February 2016. However, the site of the school in Bombay has suffered greatly after its closure 13 years ago, being the target of vandals, as well as being used by the police, fire services and the army, in training exercises in which the empty buildings were used to practice urban warfare. This has resulted in the deterioration and rapid dilapidation of the old structures.

For this reason, there is some trepidation as to whether the school will be opened at the Bombay site, or at an alternative site which is owned by the St Stephen’s and Queen Victoria School’s Trust Board.

Mr Kidd says “Ideally the Bombay site is preferred, but it is up to engineering experts to decide, because of the state of the buildings”. There is another option if the buildings are semi salvageable, to keep the front and rebuild the back ends, keeping the beautiful and iconic structures.

As the assets are owned by the Board whose views are Anglican, the school will retain it’s religious values. But the old boy’s association is looking for other partners too, with the likes of computer companies, Apple and Microsoft.

With this potential support, they wish to offer alternative educational opportunities, which will follow the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) system, but will be different to the structure of public schools, described by Mr Kidd as being, “totally different, fun and cool,” with the emphasis centered on each student being responsible for their own learning.

Mr Kidd said that St Stephen’s will be completely different to every other Maori Boys’ school in New Zealand, being more innovative, and a place where people of all races will want to send their boys.

Originally opening in 1844, and moving to the Bombay site in 1930, St Stephen’s is one of the oldest schools in New Zealand, boasting an impressive and loyal history. The plaque mounted high on the office building of the school states that it is ‘a school for religious education, industrial training and instruction in the English language for the children of both races in New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific.’

In past years, students have come from all over the country. With the reopening, it is expected that this will not change.

Mr Kidd says there is still more to be planned before the grand opening, with policies to be passed, teachers and staff to be chosen and students to be recruited.

There will be high emphasis on academic study, as well as sport. St Stephen’s is proud of its past rugby achievements, in which they dominated New Zealand secondary schools rugby for over 70 years.

The school has also helped shape the lives of prominent Maori men, such as Shane Jones and Hone Harawira, who remember the camaraderie that they had at the school.

Mr Kidd says, “St Stephen’s has been a pillar in many people’s lives, and we would love to see it opened to the community again.”

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Caption: Outer building showing signs of the aftermath of army training

More photos

Decided to post some more photos. If you haven’t seen this post, then click it to see some more pictures of St Stephen’s. And if you haven’t looked at this video, from an Ex-Student of the school, then that too has some awesome clips of the school, as well as some history. 

But for now, enjoy these photos! 

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These photos show that this site contains many beautiful and iconic buildings that have unfortunately not been looked after well enough and so over time they have been deteriorating, resulting in broken windows, broken gutters and general dilapidation. 

If the school were to reopen, the committee want to keep the iconic buildings, as you would think, but will it be too much work, and too much money to repair?

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On The Twitter

One of the criteria for this blog assessment requires us to promote our blog via social media. I’ve used the sites handy to me, twitter being the main one, and facebook as well to help me get some comments, and get my idea out there.

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Of course, it needed a bit of persistence, but it eventually paid off.
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Don’t forget to follow, if you’re not already: yanaogorman

A Little Bit Of History

This video is really cool. It shows photos of St Stephen’s school, and then explains what they are, from a student who used to attend. Judging by the music and the tone of the text within the video, I think they’re quite upset at the way the school has been left. This clearly reinforces the idea that this school means a lot to many people and they can’t wait for it to be reopened so that it can again hold significance in the lives of others.

Trespassing With Care

I took a nice stroll the other day to the end of my road, and then further down to St Stephen’s. Naturally I took my Mum with me, because that place, abandoned and deteriorating, kinda creeps me out a little. That and the fact that I was trespassing… but ssh!

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The building doesn’t look too bad from a distance, but as you get closer it’s easy to see that a lot of work will need to be done if they are going to refurbish it. And this is only one of many.

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Signs like this are placed all over the site, to prevent people from entering, but most of the buildings are all boarded up, and the doors blocked anyway.

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Here you can see some of the damage that has been done to the buildings over time- just cracks in the walls, broken windows and broken gutters. As you may have noticed in the top photo, most of the grounds, (well the lawns) have been mowed, so they must organise that to be done, or just have a caretaker. In the photo below, the circle out the front of the main school building can be seen. This is sacred ground and probably explains why the grounds are still looked after, even though the school hasn’t been used for 13 years.

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Hope these photos give you a little insight into the size of the project ahead if they choose to open the school in that same location. More photos and a video coming soon!

Interviews, Emails and Hidden Library Books

A few weeks ago I had my interview with Dean Kidd. He was able to answer my questions about the reopening of St Stephen’s school, in a lot of detail. Naturally there were some things that even he didn’t know, due to the fact that the committee’s application to reopen the school is an ongoing process, which involves time and money. Lots of money.

After the interview, Mr Kidd emailed me the details of 3 other St Stephen’s Old Boys. Kidd, himself, was a student from the 70’s, so he gave me details of students from the 60’s, 80’s and 90’s. So handy! I’ve made contact with these men and am just waiting to hear back from them now. I think their views will really reinforce the idea of community and brotherhood, as even though they weren’t attending school at the same time, the common ground of the school brings unites them. Reopening the school is going to bring all past and future members of the St Stephen’s family back together after 16 years of separation.

Kidd also gave me the name of a book, which I have been unable to find at the library… sigh. But I’ll keep going back. It was written by another man in the committee, and basically tells the history of the school, from when it opened, to it being shut down to be used in the war as a hospital, and reopened, and closed and… you get the gist of it. The school has so much history, and I think the book would really benefit my story, just give me some more background information! So yes, determined to hunt that book down and read it! 

Well this post has got long. Check out my twitter: yanaogorman for more updates and leave this post some comments if you’re keen… It’d help me out heaps.

Stay classy, 

Yana

Balancing Act

The question for this week is “Is there a balance of facts and views in your story?”

Last week I interviewed Dean Kidd, the secretary of St Stephen’s Old Boy’s Association. With an interview, you would usually expect to get a one sided view, however my interview provided me with both fact and view. As Mr Kidd is preparing a formal presentation, or pitch, to the Ministry of Education, along with numerous governmental and non-governmental associations, he has to have statistics and I guess you could say, evidence, which are ultimately facts, as they can’t be made up or influenced by opinion.

Because of this, it’s fair to say that my story will have a balance of facts and views. The facts coming from Kidd’s investigation and the views coming from my other interviewees.

I plan to start drafting my story over the coming days. 600 words, here I come.

 

Framed

The question for this week is what is your story frame?

This basically refers to the angle of my story and what I’m going to write about it. I had my interview with Dean Kidd this week, and was able to get a whole lot of information which will really benefit my story. I am going to take the approach from the old boys, talking about how they are rallying to reopen the school, not just for their sake, but because of the potential it has, to becoming once again an iconic school. St Stephen’s is the oldest school in New Zealand, and despite being closed numerous times (more on that later), there is no reason why it should remain closed when there is a talented, successful group of people who are willing to see this school revolutionise New Zealand once again.

Guess Who?

Our lecturer has decided to add in questions for our upcoming blog posts. This weeks question is who is your audience? If you’ve been following, you will notice that I am writing a blog about an old school down my road, which is pushed to be reopened by the Government and the Schools association.

So just who is my audience? It would be easy to say that it is for people who are interested in education, but it’s more than that. My article will be for the people who are in the area, as a notification of what is to come. It is also for those who are past students of the school. Through my research, I have found numerous pages and websites which are ‘Old Boys’ sites for those living in both New Zealand and overseas. I’m sure these men would be very interested in what is going to happen to their school which has been shut down for over a decade.

Not only will the audience be for ex-students, but also future students. Pukekohe, is a multicultural community, and if the school reopens its doors as a Maori school for Boys’, there will be a chance for the Maori teenagers to get a chance to excel in a place where they feel right at home with tradition and culture. It may not just be potential students in Pukekohe, but may stretch further to the wider Franklin District and even further into South Auckland towns such as Papakura. While this article focuses on only one school opening, the very event itself could spark a light in which, depending on St Stephen’s meeting the educational requirements set by the Ministry of Education, other schools may be reopened, not only in Auckland, but throughout New Zealand.

So there it is. An audience with education in common.

Yana