Welcome to Kaipara College, Year Nines

by Gemma Bayly, year Head Student, Kaipara College

Year 13 Peer Support Leaders

On January 27th, while the rest of Kaipara College was still on holiday, almost 50 year thirteen students piled onto a bus and headed up to Higham’s Farm in South Head. When we got there, we set up our tents; some haphazardly and some with the expertise that comes with a summer of practice.
This was for our Peer Support Camp. Every year, year thirteen student volunteers become peer support leaders. They mentor a class of year nines through their first few months of college. This helps the year nines to break the awkwardness of meeting new people and gives them role models.
We tented on a little beach beside the Kaipara Harbour for one night and two days, doing activities in the shed and in the shade of the big trees surrounding the campground. A few phones came out to photograph the view across the harbour. The campground was off the grid- to some people’s dismay. I heard a few worried voices saying, “Where do I charge my phone?” Without electricity, the hot water for the showers and cooking was heated by a fire. Sleeping so close to the ground was a new experience for some.
The two days were jam-packed full of activities for teambuilding, leadership and communication. It was nice to be together as a year group. We spoke to people we wouldn’t normally see much in our classes, and hung out with our friends. Most of us hadn’t done activities like that since we were year nines.
At lunchtime, we munched on cold watermelon and homegrown billington plums. The watermelon was quick to disappear. The plums were not. During our lunch break, most of us swam in the Kaipara. We splashed around in the waist deep water until we were called in. The current tugged at our legs as we walked back. In typical Kaipara Harbor fashion, 30 minutes later, the water we were swimming in was completely gone.
A week after our camp, the peer support leaders met on the quad for the Powhiri to welcome the new year nines into the school. Even in the morning, the burning hot sun made sweat bead on our foreheads. As we sat, we looked out at this year’s group of year nines eagerly. It doesn’t feel like long since we were year nines ourselves, with huge uniforms and schoolbags as big as us. We remember navigating the changing friendships and new classes in our first few weeks at Kaipara College. Back then, our peer support leaders felt so old and mature. It’s strange to think that the year nines could think of us like that now.
After interval, we ventured out to meet our year nine classes. During the next two days, we did a range of activities with them, including some of the teambuilding games we played at the camp and a scavenger hunt around the school.
Since then, we’ve met with our year nine classes every Friday during mentoring time. The year nines are a cool year group and the year thirteen’s are very excited about the year to come.

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