Voyage of discovery

Learning about great voyages in history has taken a Marlborough school on a special journey themselves.

Year 5 pupils at Rapaura School made a splash last week as they launched their own hand-made boat in the waters off Picton Foreshore.

What started as a project to mark the upcoming Totaranui 250 celebrations, ended with a 3-and-a-half metre boat built by the children themselves.

For teacher Mikayla Avant, it was a special moment.

“The kids said why not build a boat, and I thought why not?

“It wasn’t what I thought I’d be doing in my first year of teaching but it’s amazing the learning that’s come out of it.

“There’s been a bit of everything, from science, writing and tech. The community has really got involved too,” she says.

Brainstorming sessions followed and students worked out a plan for their boat’ the Bassett Barracuda.

Initial ideas included asking NZ rowing star Joseph Sullivan to provide pedal power from a bike on board.

Year 5 pupils at Rapaura School made a splash last week as they launched their own hand-made boat in the waters off Picton Foreshore.

But the final plan features vineyard posts and mussel floats, with paddles providing the momentum.

Jasper Sorenson-Brown, 9, says the class made some “pretty big decisions”.

“We learnt a lot doing this. We found out about the Polynesians who voyaged here to New Zealand and about density and why things float.”

Classmate Elsie Welbourne, 10, says they had all made prototypes before deciding on a final design.

“Some worked and some didn’t. We know that things float better in saltwater too,” she says.

Pupils also held a bake sale, raising $175 to put towards construction costs.

The project got a whole-hearted thumbs-up from the class, who donned wetsuits and life jackets for their maiden voyage.

For pupil Sam Jones, 9, the enquiry was the best of the year so far.

“It’s really cool,” he says.

School crossing joy as council steps in

Picton pupils have a spring in their step as a dangerous road is made safer.

Several near misses at Picton School’s Kent Street pedestrian crossing prompted calls to Marlborough District Council to act.

Now a new $35,000 crossing is ready to use, helping keep children safer on their way to and from school.

Principal Dave Sullivan says the upgraded crossing is a “relief.”

“Staff and the school committee are really, really thankful that the council has made this effort.

“It’s not just them making a statement, it [the crossing] has real value and is already making a difference,” he says.

The old black and white striped crossing was on the main thoroughfare for ferry traffic using SH1.

Pupils at Picton School celebrating the new crossing. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Heavy trucks are a regular sight on the road and while most take care, some drivers seemed unaware the crossing was even there, Dave says.

“The new crossing is slightly raised, and drivers are treating it as a hump in the road and slow right down.

“It’s bright red, they can’t miss it and even if no one is waiting to use it, they still slow down.”

Year 4 pupils say the crossing has made then feel safer.

Jayla Murrell, 8, says she must cross the road regularly and used to be nervous about it.

“I think it’s much better. It’s red and bright and people can see it,” she says.

Dave says council also have plans to move the York Street pedestrian crossing which is situated close to a corner.

New warning signs will also go up around the perimeter of the school to emphasise children will be using near-by roads.

Pupil Mercedes Raj, 8, says the crossing has made a big difference already.

“No one could really see us before and it felt like the cars were too close and could nudge us.

“It was too narrow but it’s great now.”

This project was delivered as part of Marlborough Roads Safety programme.

Marlborough Sounds Councillor Nadine Taylor helped push for the new crossing.

“The children and staff were rightly concerned at the position of the crossing, being so close to the intersection, and the lack of obvious visual warnings for motorists approaching the crossing, and raised their concerns publicly.

“I’m thrilled to see that Marlborough Roads, council and the school have all worked together to achieve a great outcome for Picton, building on the success of the improvements we made at Waikawa Bay School two years ago.”