Coming together . . . The new Waimate High School Opportunities Project has provided a special opportunity for the community to be more involved with the school. Pictured are: (From back left) Waimate High School pupil Jaden Meynell (17), project chairman Ryan Luckman, pupils Jack Gillespie (15), Jack Farrell (16). (From front left) Waimate High School deputy principal Kellie Tagiaia, pupils Lucy Matheson (13) and Georgia Soper (14), Waimate District Charitable Foundation Raewyn Francis and Waimate High School principal Janette Packman. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

A new funding project is aiming to strengthen the bond between Waimate High School and the wider community.

The Waimate High School Opportunities Project has been launched to increase learning opportunities for the school’s pupils through funding various ventures in the community involving Waimate High School pupils.

The project, under the Waimate District Charitable Foundation, has raised $31,000 already through parents, community members, and Rotary Waimate.

The initiative would aim to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 annually, through fundraising, corporate sponsorship and from former pupils.

The project was based off a model at Wakatipu High School, and project chairman Ryan Luckman said it was an exciting time for the entire area.

“From the community’s point of view, it’s so important that the high school is strong and the school of choice for the region. When you look at these other models, like Wakatipu, you see there’s so many opportunities nowadays and so much stuff people can do and that’s just not possible without that community engagement and support,” Mr Luckman said.

“We’re really keen to help set up some way to help let the teachers do what the do.”

School principal Janette Packman said there was “no shortage of ideas” for school projects – they had just not been possible previously without the funding and support.

“It’s really great to have this opportunity to really do the very best we can for our students and in order to that we need this additional support,” Mrs Packman said.

Various project ideas included increasing the sports co-ordinator’s hours, increasing resources, looking at pupils’ wellbeing and working across curriculums to work on one big project.

However, the project was about more than just money – it was about resources and ways Waimate businesses could work closely with the school, she said.

Deputy principal Kellie Tagiaia agreed that the project was bigger than the high school.

“It’s about actually growing Waimate as a community, we’ve got an influx of people coming here. We’ve got lots of job opportunities, and other areas like Timaru, Geraldine – they have Aoraki development – so it’s about how can we work together as a collective hub and grow Waimate and have strong partnerships across all areas of the community,” she said.