School closing, but show must go on

'We just ran out of kids', says principal

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012

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When Kate and Hugh ten Hove leave Le Bons Bay School for the last time today, they will be leaving behind generations of their family history.

The brother and sister are the fifth generation of ten Hove children to attend the tiny Banks Peninsula school, which will close its doors for the final time today.

With just four children on its roll and little prospect of more children attending soon, the school opted this year to close.

"We just ran out of kids," principal Jude Hateley said.

The decision to close was made before Education Minister Hekia Parata announced proposals to close or merge 39 Christchurch schools.

It is one of two Canterbury schools closing for good this week. The other is Hammersley Park School, in Shirley.

Hateley, 64, said she never imagined she would end her teaching career by shutting a school.

She is reluctantly retiring from teaching and moving to Napier, where she hopes to take up new hobbies and volunteer at a local prison helping inmates improve their literacy.

"I've been teaching for 36 years. It's been stunning. I've never not wanted to get up and go to school."

Hateley will be Le Bons Bay School's longest-serving principal by one month.

She said it was important the school closed on a positive note and she was determined to carry on with the school's annual drama despite having only four children.

So last night, Kate, 11, Hugh, 8, and fellow pupils Melody Boston, 9, and Niamh Lowry, 10, took to the stage in The Golden Behind, a drama written by Hateley.

Hateley also convinced some former pupils to take part.

Melody said she was sad to see the school close but she was excited about going to Akaroa Area School, along with Niamh.

Kate and Hugh will move to Oxford with their mother, Jenine ten Hove, who has worked at the school for 14 years as a teacher aide and a secretary.

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