Pupils step up to next learning stage

James Hargest College Year 9 pupils, school bagpipers and Year 13 pupils take part in the Ka Hikitia (Step-Up) march from the junior to senior campus in Invercargill on Monday.
James Hargest College kapa haka member Maia Fletcher leads the singing at the Ka Hikitia (Step Up) ceremony at the school’s senior campus on Monday.

THERE were tears in the eyes of James Hargest College (JHC) junior campus associate principal Jeanette Chilton-Smith as the school’s Year 9 pupils set off on the Ka Hikitia (Step-Up) march from the junior to senior campus in Invercargill on Monday.

“I do it every year,” she confessed as she watched them walk away.

Ka Hikitia had been part of the school’s Year 9 pupils’ first day since 2008, after all intermediate schools were closed in Southland and the high schools became places of learning for Years 7 to 13 pupils, she said.

The transition between schools saw about 260 pupils, who attended the junior campus last year, accompanied on the 1.6km walk by bagpipers as well as Year 13 pupils.

“It’s a very exciting ceremony,” Mrs Chilton-Smith said.

Layard St was lined with family members and well-wishers who looked on as the pupils made the journey on foot.

As the pupils reached the senior campus gates, they were joined by 35 Year 9 pupils who were also beginning their school year at JHC but had not previously attended the junior campus.

James Hargest College principal Mike Newell said Ka Hikitia also represented a step-up in the way they would now learn.

“Part of their schooling changes coming to the secondary system.

“Year 7 and 8 typically still runs in a primary model.”

The ceremony was an acknowledgement of them making a step up to that next stage in their learning, he said.

The tradition of this week would then carry through, he said.

“Last year, at the end of the year, we piped out the Year 13 students on the end of their last day, coming round full circle at the end of their schooling.”

As pupils entered the assembly hall, they were greeted by the school’s kapa haka group.

JHC Year 8 dean Stu Brown spoke on behalf of the pupils, passing the baton of learning on to senior teachers who had gathered to welcome them.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with these students,” he said.

“Now it’s your turn to have fun with them and inspire them.”

He told the pupils just because they were gone from the junior campus it didn’t mean their former teachers would not be following their progress.

“We’re sad to see you go, but excited to hear where you go in life.”