Two of Dovedale schools’ oldest pupils went back to school last weekend, to attend the Dovedale School’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Shirley Harper and Basil Thompson went back to school, where they were pupils in the late 1930’s, and were even there to cut the cake.
The school was first established in 1869. Originally classes were held in the nearby church until the school was built in 1880.
Students from every era were welcomed back by current students and staff, for a tour of the school and a weekend of reunions and celebrations, as well as an in-depth look at the history of the school.
The event was held over two days, beginning on Friday, 17th May with a Tour of the School and a traditional afternoon tea. The Dovedale Church was opened and held a historical display of old photographs and artefacts dating all the way back to the school’s establishment in 1869.
This was followed by a Mix and Mingle later in the evening at the Dovedale Hall.
Saturday saw a full day of celebrations, beginning with an opening ceremony with speeches from former students and staff members, as well as the burying of a time capsule, the cutting of the cake, and the unveiling of a new plaque.
Shirley and Basil took pride of place on the weekend and were given the honour of cutting the cake and unveiling the plaque to commemorate the occasion.
The ceremony closed with the release of a flock of homing pigeons, to signify the school’s motto of “flying together.”
The current pupils of Dovedale School put on a performance, and principal Sonia Gianelly said “it brought a tear or two to many past students’ eyes to see the joy and pride on the children’s faces.”
The day concluded with decade photographs, an old school cricket match and a ’Dine and Dance’ at the Moutere Hills Community Centre. Well over 200 people from all over New Zealand, and as far as Australia, travelled back to Dovedale to take part in the reunion which was originally planned for earlier but postponed due to the high fire risk
“It was a very special celebration for a wonderful rural school, proud to be thriving 150 years on.”