Waitaki Boys’ High School pupils are overturning stereotypes about antisocial teen behaviour.
Boarders at the school’s hostel last week volunteered to help earthquake cleanup efforts in north Canterbury.
“More boys volunteered than could be accommodated,” director of boarding Dan Keno said.
The plan to load up the school van with supplies and willing labour began soon after the quakes.
“Just last Wednesday, an idea was formed and quickly gained momentum faster than anyone expected,” Mr Keno said.
“All it took to ignite the spirit of the wider Waitaki community was a simple post on Facebook requesting donations of food and helpful items that businesses and individuals were able to spare. What happened over the following two days was an incredible display of support and generosity from the people of North Otago.”
Other schools and businesses “contributed immensely”, he said.
“There were also countless amazing contributions from numerous individuals. There’s absolutely no doubt that the community spirit and belief in a worthwhile cause is alive and well.”
The van transporting 10 pupils set off after school on Friday and returned on Sunday. The boys were taken to both rural and urban sites to help clear some of the mess caused by the earthquakes.
Mr Keno said they made “a heartfelt contribution” and learned valuable lessons: it costs nothing to give, and they have a new appreciation of the comforts they enjoy in their own lives.
“The experience has taught the boys compassion and empathy – values that are not normally associated with a boys’ school, but they are values that will enable these young men to create social and emotional connections that will hold them in good stead going forward.
“There’s nothing more confronting than rolling up your sleeves in the midst of a natural disaster, helping your fellow man through some hard times, whilst hopefully inspiring others to do the same.”