Hi everyone, this is Schuyler! Finally, it is my turn to get a post up about life as a Kiwi student. For the past 8 weeks, I have been attending the Mount Maunganui Intermediate School (MMI). This is kind of like a middle school back home, except there are only two grades (Year 7 and Year 8). All the kids at MMI are between 11 and 13 years old, and I am a Year 7 student with the 11 and 12 year olds.
We have about 550 students at MMI – this is HUGE compared to my school back home. On the first day of school, the only person I knew was my teacher, Ms. Price, who we met a couple of days before school started. I was thrown into a sea of 11-13 year olds who were all reconnecting with friends after their summer holidays. I was really nervous and lonely that morning, but by the end of the first day, I knew I was going to LOVE my school!
I have had so much fun being a student at MMI. My 31 classmates in Room 17 have become some of the best friends I have ever made, and my teacher, Ms. Price, is amazing. She is so goofy and funny but also keeps the students in line with a lot of rules and expectations. She makes us want to do well because she treats us with respect and shows us that she expects a lot from us. Sometimes she is naughty, like when she says bad words and goofs around, but this makes us even more comfortable with her. We all have loads of fun together!
My school day begins at 8:50am, but I like to get there early and hang out in the classroom or on the playground with my “mates” as they say here. Most kids skateboard or ride bikes to school, which I think is really cool. Some kids have to take a bus because MMI is a combination of 6 different primary schools in this region.
We have really interesting uniforms at MMI. We have to wear a green collared t-shirt, a plaid skort (which is like a really puffy pair of shorts that looks like a skirt when we stand with our legs together), and we have to wear a dark green sunhat whenever we want to be outside! To top it all off, we have to wear these super ancient sandals called “romans” (but as soon as we get to school, we all just take them off and spend the day barefoot of course).
Each school day brings a different schedule of classes and I have my schedule taped onto my wall in my room so I can see what the day will bring each morning when I wake up. I have learned a lot about New Zealand from Ms. Price’s lessons. We have done a lot of writing, maths, and something called “literacy” which is like reading comprehension and grammar. Here are some photos of the projects we have worked on in my classroom.
Normally, our main lessons are held in our classroom but we also have “Tech.” Tech is like an extra class that all kids have to attend, and it switches up every month or so. Some examples of Tech classes are: art, computers, food/cooking, and woodworking. For the first part of the term, I was placed in Electronics (computers) and I am having loads of fun! My teacher is named Mr. McLean and he is really helpful. We learned how to program a robot, make a video about our robot, and then how to modify photos. I haven’t done much with computers in the past so I feel like I got a lot out of this class.
Every Friday, we have a school-wide assembly at 2:00pm. One class hosts the assembly each week and organizes the speakers and announcements. On my last week of school, Room 17 (my class) got to host Assembly. My friend, Josh, and I were chosen to be the MC’s for the afternoon, and we had to sit up on the stage and run the show. I thought it was a little scary but I also felt special being up there in front of the whole school! At the end of the assembly, our Principal wished me well on the rest of our journey and said how much MMI has enjoyed having me for this term. It was really nice of her to do that.
Like Zoe and Thayer at the Primary School, we have a swimming pool at our school and we swim twice a week as part of our PE curriculum. Swimming is also a really competitive sport here and lots of kids are excellent swimmers. Mostly during PE though we just mess around in the pool.
I have also joined a co-ed “Touch Rugby” team and I am getting pretty good at that game. It’s like playing football but you can’t tackle in touch. Also, you can only pass backwards. I have learned how to pass the ball to the side or behind me, making it spin. Some other popular sports here are: netball, volleyball, “football” (i am teaching my friends how to play American style!), and handball (like four square with a tiny ball). I also introduced a common playground game, 4-square, to my friends at MMI and it has really taken off now.
At MMI, every student is required to participate in a Tri-athalon just like at the Primary school. The difference for us is that you can decide to compete as solo athlete and do all three events or you can join a 3-person team and do just one event. I joined up with my friends Josh and Reid and did the swim portion, which was actually last in the team event. First Josh ran 4 laps of our huge field. Then Reid cycled 4 laps of the field, and then he tagged me and I ran a lap around the big tennis courts and then jumped into the pool and swam four lengths with like 20 other kids splashing all around me. It was kind of chaotic in the pool and I had water in my goggles, but it was still fun to compete in a school tri-athalon.
Ms. Price took my class on a 2-night stay at a wilderness camp about an hour from the Mount. It was really remote. We had to drive for like 30 minutes on a dirt road to get into the actual camp. There was an adventure course, rope swing and a freezing waterfall, late night games of rugby and flashlight tag, and many team building exercises like the Burma Trail (where we wander through the bush only following a rope, this includes crossing freezing streams and potentially falling off river banks or logs or hitting your forehead on thick, low hanging branches). this went on for about 1 and a half hours at midnight. I had the BEST time at camp! We went to bed after midnight for both nights and then at 7am sharp Ms. Price woke us up by banging a metal spoon inside a big pot yelling “WAKE UP EVERYBODY,” so I was really tired when I got home! Here are some photos of my time at camp (Mom, Dad, and Thayer came up for dinner on the second night when parents were invited to join us).
Playing touch rugby at camp
The best part of my time in the Mount and at MMI has definitely been the friendships that I have made. I will miss all of my new friends soooo much when I leave here. Everyone is hoping and praying that we come back and spend more time here (me too!). Here are some photos of my friends. We’ve spent a lot of time together both in school and outside of school (sleep overs etc.).
It is going to be really really sad when I have to leave the Mount and say goodbye to everyone, which is tomorrow! I can’t believe our time here is over. I’ve had the BEST experience in the Mount, and I wish it never had to end. I give a special thanks to Room 17 for making my time here so memorable. And thank you to everyone who has read this blogpost!