School gates fling open for girls
It may have been a week later than expected, but girls are now on the ground at an all boys boarding school in Rangitikei.
Huntley School in Marton had a shakeup of its school roll yesterday, welcoming girls back through the gates after more than 60 years of boasting "boys only" status.
It was a week later than planned, with the girls' move-in date delayed to ensure the done-up dormitory was spick and span.
Principal Brad Gay said the conversion to co-ed saw only a few things changed at the private preparatory school, including the introduction of netball as a sports option and a new "rouge" paint job on the rejuvenated girls' boarding house.
The girls' boarding wing, which sits next door to the boys, has been named Sherriff's House after former headmaster Royce "Spratt" Sherriff, whose daughters attended the school in the 1950s and whose god-daughter Lily Sherriff now attends.
"One of the reasons the girls' boarding house is attached to the boys' is because we're not just doing this on a whim, but we want them to be very much part of the whole school," Mr Gay said.
"And to do that we want them to be straight away amongst the boys."
The girls had been a welcome inclusion to the classroom, challenging the boys' book smarts, Mr Gay said.
"At this age group, it's a very much a real brother and sister sort of relationship. There's a really neat, warm environment."
Huntley School's roll numbers 143, with about 80 boarders hailing from throughout the lower North Island including Palmerston North, Ohakune and Whanganui. The roll includes 26 girls, with 12 of them boarding.
The move to a co-educational model has been nearly two years in the planning. A gap in the region for a private girls' preparatory boarding school helped to shape the decision, Mr Gay said.