Schuyler’s Gone Kiwi – School Days at the Mount


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.

Me, in front of my school entrance

Me, in front of my school entrance

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!

Photo of school grounds

Photo of school grounds

Showing Thayer the ropes, literally, on our school playground

Showing Thayer the ropes, literally, on our school playground

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 teacher, Ms. Price

My teacher, Ms. Price

Inside my classroom

Inside my classroom, I’m near the back

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.

Opening my desk at the start of the school day

Opening my desk at the start of the school day

This map of the Mount shows where all of my classmates live

This map of the Mount shows where all of my classmates live

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).

Uniform up close

Uniform up close

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.

I did a report on the Treaty of Whaitangi between the native Maori people and the European settlers

I did a report on the Treaty of Whaitangi between the native Maori people and the European settlers

Some of our art work

Some of our art work

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.

Getting ready to see if my robot programming skills are any good

Getting ready to see if my robot programming skills are any good

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. 

Josh and I, leading Assembly

Josh and I, leading Assembly

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.

School pool

School pool

Messing around during PE

Messing around during PE

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.

TRI-ATHALON

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.

Ready for Reid to tag me so I can start my swim leg

Ready for Reid to tag me so I can start my swim leg

Swimming in my Tri-athalon

Swimming in my Tri-athalon

Running to the finish line!

Running to the finish line!

CAMP

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). 

In the dining room

In the dining room

Getting ready to jump!

Getting ready to jump!

The main lodge at our camp

The main lodge at our camp

In my bunk bed room with my goofy friend, Jessica

getting ready for the parents arrival!Playing touch rugby at camp

Playing touch rugby at camp

FRIENDS

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.).

Hanging out at lunch time, in the shade

Hanging out at lunch time, in the shade

My best mates, Molly and Elle during ice cream sundae time at a sleepover I hosted!

Two of my best mates, Molly and Elle, during ice cream sundae time at a sleepover I hosted!

With my friend, Meleka at our house

With an ice cream mustache, and my friend, Meleka

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! 

Love, Schuyler!

Categories: NEW ZEALAND, Schuyler's Gone Kiwi - School Days at the Mount

17 comments

  1. Gosh! It seems like your time in NZ has flown by!!!! I’m amazed that in such a short time you were able to establish such meaningful friendships, not to mention all of the things you’ve accomplished in school! I believe you probably will keep in touch with these new friends, and eventually go back to visit. Thanks for keeping all of your readers so well informed about your adventure!

    Will you be back in NZ at all, or are you off to new places for the next few months?

  2. Good for you Schuyler, love the uniforms. love all the information you wrote about too

  3. Schuyler, I was so happy to awake to your blog this morning. You did a fantastic job in capturing every aspect of your experiences and have the many photos of the friends you’ve made.
    Looking forward to hearing about the remainder of your adventures. Lots to look forward to…especially sharing your experiences with Mummsy, Pops and Haven!
    Miss you everyday! Love, Mem

  4. Dear Schuyler, Zoe, Thayer, Blair and Jeff…
    Even though we have never met (I am Jean’s friend who was in NZ with her), I feel that I know you through this amazing blog. Your pictures are beautiful and “worth a thousand words”, your writing is descriptive and inviting, your adventures…sublime. I have enjoyed every minute I’ve spent reading, following you from England to New Zealand. I look forward to reading about your asian adventures too. Schuyler, Zoe and Thayer your writing is so impressive! I love your humor too. I’m sure you are sad to leave NZ as it sounds like each of you have made wonderful friends.
    Thank you for sharing this year with us… even strangers, who now feel like friends.
    Paula (Murphy)

  5. Schuyler you look so grown up and so beautiful!! So happy you are having such a great experience.. Miss you and can’t wait to see you in June…..
    Love ya
    Auntie JOJO

  6. Schuyler, Rugby?…that’s a tough sport.
    Thank you for sharing your time at the “Mount”. I truly enjoy experiencing your adventures through your blog.
    Missing you all…
    Pep

  7. Schuyler, what a great job you did on the blog as well as in NZ! I am sure all your friends will miss you as much as you do them. The trick will be in figuring out how to stay in touch. I am in Hawaii and will be meeting up with a Haven shortly. Can’t wait to see you! Love, Pops.

  8. Great entry, Schuyler! Make sure you bring home a pair of “Romans” 😉 Maybe you could start a new trend at school next year! Hope you guys continue to have a wonderful time on your next adventure 🙂

  9. Well, Schuyler, thank YOU from writing this great blog and sharing your piece of the world with us. It was so fun to read. It almost made me green with jealousy, realising that you can go to school barefeet. That’s an old hippies dream, I can tell you !
    You ‘ve really picked up life ‘as a native’ it seems. You write about your ‘mates’ and I even ‘discovered’ your spelling of ‘math’ the Kiwi way.with the extra ‘s’…
    I bet you ‘ll give up knife&spoon after south east asia and china.and use chopsticks and fingers all the time. Like Linde !
    I cannot say how much all of the Wits like reading this travelblog. You guys have made lifelong friends !

  10. Hi Schuyler–great post on the Mount–also love your other writings. You look so grown up in your photos. I was intrigued by the wilderness camp–and walking in the dark–quite spooky-guess they don’t have to worry about bears there. Can you imagine a trail at the Big Camp this summer for all the brave adults?!!! I was so impressed with your ability to stand up with your friend and MC the school assembly–takes courage to do that. I trust you will have many more opportunities to show this leadership skill–good job. How wonderful that your friendships at the Mount were the best part of your experience. They say that some people come into our lives for a while– and leave footprints on our hearts– and we are never again the same—– Lots of bare feet and good friends there at the Mount for sure. Hope your journey through Asia will be as joyful as your time at the Mount. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  11. Wow! What a gorgeous picture you have painted of your school experience. How lucky you are! What you are missing here is loads of snow. And the tummy bug. But we are seeing signs of spring and that means signs of summer and some time with your awesome family on the beach! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Schuyler! Your hair is looking blonder than I’ve ever seen it – must be all that good Kiwi sunshine! What amazing experiences you’ve had at the Mount, from robotics to rugby. And it’s so great that you were able to make such strong friendships over the last 2 months. You, Zoe and Thayer are BRAVE for having so enthusiastically launched yourself into your schools at the Mount. Do most of your friends have email – can you keep in touch with them that way until your next return visit? Hope the Asian travels are bending your minds and perspectives in all new and good ways. Lots of love, auntie pickle

  13. Annika and I loved reading your post. Thank you for sharing all your meaningful experiences, we are excited to read everything your family posts. I think you and your new friends will find ways to stay in touch and see each other again someday. Can’t wait to hear more!

  14. Hi Schuyler

    I just read your kiwi school post and I am sure that in years to come you will always remember this special time of your life in New Zealand. I hope that you can stay in touch with your pals and I am sure that classroom 17 was not the same after you and your sisters moved on to Asian adventures. I have so enjoyed all the Demers’ blogs and can’t wait to catch up with your soon to come news!
    All love
    Aunt Jean

  15. “I wish I could be barefoot at school all day! I hope you’re having fun wherever you are right now!”- Ellery

    “We miss you a lot!”- Noa

  16. STOP IT! You’re having way too much fun without me! Not fair! Come back!
    I miss you so much! I can’t wait to see you in June XP
    email me at klinen2018@falmouthschools.org
    i don’t use my other email as much

  17. hi its elle you look like your having a lot of fun miss you xxx

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