Makoura College’s winning ‘Make a difference’ team – Imogen van der Raaij, left, Aislin Maugatai, Beatrice van der Raaij, Xanthe Hutchby-Way, with their sustainable cladding design. PHOTO/GRACE NELSON

ELISA VORSTER
elisa.vorster@age.co.nz

Makoura College classrooms have been buzzing with innovation this month as students worked to come up with ways to enhance their school and community.

Makoura’s ‘Make a difference’ days are part of the school’s plan to commit one day each week from 2019 to working on new ways of engaging students in learning.

Last week, the students spent two days outside their regular classroom activities thinking of ways to encourage healthy eating, build a more attractive school environment, improve physical activity, lift the school’s image, and build greater community involvement.

They presented their proposals to a panel of guest judges, including Masterton Mayor Lyn Paterson, councillor Gary Caffell, and sports co-ordinator Stacey Grant.

Proposals included fitness circuits, a redesign of the student centre, a scooter ramp, a performing arts space, community garden, in-house TV news bulletin, a volunteer army for local support and gift boxes for children in need.

The winning proposal – ‘Greencraft’ – recommended cladding the school’s main classroom block in vegetation to enhance insulation and cooling, based on sustainable building design solutions in Singapore.

Organiser Vicky Pilling was delighted with how the programme went.

“It was exciting to see all the great ideas the students had and how engaged they were.

“I believe it was a valuable learning experience for both staff and students, and it will help in the further development of student-centred learning next year at Makoura College.”

Principal Paul Green said the ‘Make a Difference’ days generated improved student ownership of learning and a greater sense of empowerment.

“We want our students to have choices outside of the regular classroom context – perhaps to follow a specialist interest, perhaps to work on a project that will benefit the school or wider community, either of their own initiative or supported by a teacher-guided group.”