The grounds of Rise Up Academy echoed with hymns and proud voices as the new charter school was officially opened.
Around 200 people, including parents, teachers, students and community leaders, celebrated the occasion at the school's Rosella Rd chapel in Mangere.
Guests included ACT leader John Banks, the man who orchestrated the establishment of the charter schools.
The school is a dream come true for principal and Rise Up Trust chief executive Sita Selupe.
The trust started in 2006 after Mrs Selupe opened Auntie Sita's Home School in her garage.
Every Saturday she taught her own children and some nieces and nephews using inquiry-based learning and gave them real-life problems to work with.
Now Rise Up Academy is the country's first charter school to cater for primary school-aged kids, one of five that have now opened.
Mrs Selupe says a huge focus from the beginning has been whanau engagement in student learning.
"When you enrol your child [in Rise Up], you're enrolling the whanau too," she says.
The teachers will bring a new "zeal" to the New Zealand curriculum and "create a new breed of learners".
Fifty students from years 1 to 6 started school yesterday and among them was 9-year-old Sebastian Holmes.
His mother Liz Holmes has been associated with the Rise Up Trust since 2007 when she completed its Hearts and Minds programme, which is focused on helping parents understand and engage with their children's learning.
Ms Holmes has seen Rise Up's work continuously improve over the years and says it will only keep growing.
"What Rise Up Trust does really well is work together with the community," she says. "It's about the children here. That's what schools should be about."
The first of the five controversial charter schools, South Auckland Middle School in Manurewa, opened last week.
Charter schools - or partnership schools as the Government calls them - are part of a confidence and supply agreement with ACT.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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