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Thames High students, Tyler Groenewald, left, Faith Wilson, Tumanako Ihaia, Emma Fogg, Mia Nicholson, and Mary Wiki, with their hand-made lunches for Kopuarahi School. Photo by KELLEY TANTAU

High schoolers give back to younger students

Six Thames High School students, including one with interests in pediatric oncology and another passionate about midwifery, sat down with Kopuarahi School’s 19 pupils around lunchtime on a Monday.
Lying nearby was a pile of colourful basketballs, netballs, and dodgeballs, and on the table were hand-made ham sandwiches, all paid for with money raised from a bake sale.
The intention was to provide Kopuarahi School, in Pipiroa, with sporting equipment and healthy kai, and was a first step in what would hopefully become an ongoing friendship between the education providers.
“We were scared when we got here that no one would talk to us but the kids are all really interesting, and it just shows, looking at them now, that a little bit can go a long way,” Thames High student Tyler Groenewald told The Profile.
“It’s just a little project but what you can do with it … you can just see it as an assessment or you can see it as an opportunity.”
The students take a Year 12 health class and have been assisted by teachers Taryn Slee and David Harrison.
This year, one of their assessments was to ‘give back to our community’ and, after hearing on the radio that Kopuarahi School was in-need of new sporting gear, they contacted principal whaea Chris Patel.
The plan to mentor, inspire, and assist with the younger students was put into action, with Tyler and her classmates organising a bake sale to raise money for the equipment and lunches. They raised close to $300, Tyler said.
“It meant a lot to us, giving back to one of the primary schools we don’t usually give back to, and we thought it would be good to get Thames High School’s name out there a little bit and give back to the wider community outside of Thames,” she said.
“The intention is for it to be an ongoing thing, every now and again, pop in and say hi. We definitely don’t want it to be a one-time thing.”
Kopuarahi School principal whaea Chris Patel said she hoped the project would be “successful and sustainable” for future students to be able to be a part of.
“Society is very good at knocking young people, but there are young people out there doing good things,” she said.
“[These students] are socially responsible young people seeing how they can play a role in helping others.
“It’s a healthy thing to promote, and there’s a positivity that goes both ways.” By KELLEY TANTAU