Centre set foundations for 30 years

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 14:10 07/11/2012

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It was a proud milestone for the staff, parents and past pupils from Picton Early Learning Centre on Saturday when they celebrated the centre's 30th anniversary.

The community owned institution was started by Patricia Trixl, but almost didn't get off the ground.

"We started with very little equipment and there was so little interest from the community that we almost didn't open," recalled Patricia, who worked at the centre for just more than a year.

In January 1985 the centre moved to its current location in Wairau St, with a revamp in 2001 upping the number of children they could cater for from 26 to 42, up to the age of 5.

For long-serving head teacher, Maree Huntley, who has been with the school for 19 years, it has been an incredibly rewarding journey.

"I just love seeing the kids come through here and then years later seeing them achieve success at college," said Maree.

The job that she and her fellow teachers do helps to lay development foundations for the children in their care.

"I still have a huge passion for teaching.

"My seven daughters came through here and now one of them, Jennifer, is working here and her daughter is at school here," said Maree.

The centre is a non-profit organisation owned and run by the Picton community, with a large number of the residents having passed through its doors.

Unlike many playcentres and preschools, the centre cares for children from 8am to 5pm.

It has an aftercare programme for 5 to 13-year-olds called the Oscar Programme as well as school holiday programmes.

"Those two programmes were started in 2001," said Picton Community Early Learning Centre manager, Vicki Eastgate.

"We keep pretty busy throughout the year."

The kids are also treated to regular field trips to interesting places around the Picton area.

The centre's 30 years were celebrated on Saturday, with past and present pupils, parents and staff attending.

Patricia was a special guest.

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- The Marlborough Express

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