Principal Tracy Spiers said the increase in numbers came from not only the 49 new Year 7 enrolments, but also from the senior part of the school, with many of their seniors deciding to carry on with their education.
“This is the third year that the college has offered a Year 13 programme and this year the majority of our 2017 Year 12 students have stayed on their home island to continue with their education,” she said.
With 230 fulltime students and two adult students to cater for, Spiers believes that it is her responsibility to ensure every student has an academic programme that best suits their needs.
“With the help of a committed body of staff we want to ensure that our students are career or university ready by the time they leave school.”
For Araura College, learning is a priority and the use of programmes such as that provided by Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (the New Zealand correspondence school), helps ensure the college caters for all students’ needs.
“Providing hands-on learning, such as fine furniture and jewellery-making will also feature in our technology programmes.”
Spiers says the school’s commitment to health will continue.
“This includes having only healthy foods on school grounds five days a week, the wearing of sunhats when outdoors and having robust learning programmes.
“A newly-established vegetable garden and orchard will provide fresh local food for our canteen and this year we hope to add an aquaculture and hydroponics set up to produce year round fresh vegetables for our students to enjoy.”
Meanwhile, the school’s “Envirosquad” and Aitutaki Reef Keepers (ARK) will continue to raise public awareness and educate others about the importance of reducing, re-using and recycling as well as how to protect the island’s famous lagoon and create a sustainable healthy future for all Aitutakians.
Spiers said the ARK team was delighted to take part in the initial draft process for Aitutaki’s lagoon management plan last week.
“This is just an example of the real life learning experience that we aim to offer.”
Spiers says the school is looking forward to once again hosting the ‘Travel Teacher’ group from the UK. The group is dedicated to providing opportunities for its volunteers to undertake “meaningful” travel and support the sustainability of Aitutaki school.
“Our students love having visitors from overseas and last year this was a real highlight for them.”
The college also welcomed a new teacher this year - returning Cook Islander Karleen Teao.
“She is a welcome addition to our science and English departments and we look forward to employing another teacher soon,” Spiers said.
For Araura College, 2018 is shaping up to be a productive and purposeful year and Spiers says the school is looking forward to having successful relationships with both students and their families.