Student set on record

SIMON BLOOMBERG
Last updated 15:00 29/11/2012
Phil Amberger
SIMON BLOOMBERG/FAIRFAX NZ
CLOSE LINKS: Salisbury School student Billie Wells, middle, and her friends Allie Hemara Glasgow, left, and Alisha Flynn with some of the paper chain Billie has been making for Sunday’s fair

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Salisbury School student Billie Wells has not only made giant strides in her learning and social development since attending the Richmond residential girls' school, she may also graduate with a world record.

When Billie first came to Salisbury from the West Coast last year she was shy and struggling to cope with life after the death of her father. The 16-year-old is slowly coming out of her shell and is on the way to making a successful transition back into the mainstream of society.

Billie is also well on the way to competing a record-breaking giant paper chain for the school's fair this Sunday. She hopes to break the world record of 327.1 metres set in 2006 and at the same time help raise funds for the school by collecting a gold donation from people to have their name inscribed, or business card attached, to the chain.

Billie said the chain was more than just paper because it represented the close links the Richmond school had with the community. She had already made 150m of chain and was confident she would reach her target of 327m. She wanted to dedicate the world record to her father.

Deputy principal Stephen Evans said he talked to Billie about making the chain because it would challenge her reach a goal. Stephen said Billie "was really happy to help the school fair", launching herself into the task so enthusiastically that she woke up at 6am last Sunday to make more chains.

"She got up early in the weekend and was working away so hard that the clicking of the stapler woke up her roommates. It's really helping her develop her self-confidence and self-belief."

Stephen said Billie was "a real success story for the school", because she had made such good progress. He was concerned all the good work would be lost if the school was forced to close next month.

"When she came in here, she had her head down and didn't talk to people," Stephen said. "Now she has some good friends and has improved academically.

"But she still has some way to go and I'm worried that if she goes home now she'll just sit around playing on the Xbox and watching television. If Billie had another year she could turn the corner but she may not get the chance to do that now.

"When she leaves here we want her to be able to make the transition back into the community. We want to build her resilience and increase the chances of her being a lifelong learner."

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Stephen said Sunday's fair was being held to raise funds for Salisbury School's legal fight against its closure, which was to go to court this week. The school had already received "fantastic" support from community and he hoped people would continue that support by attending the fair.

Stephen said the fair would feature live entertainment, food and craft stalls, a boutique cafe situated among the rose gardens, a beauty salon, trash and treasure stall and plenty of fun and games for the children - and of course Billie's giant paper chain.

DETAILS

What: Salisbury School Fair.

Where: Salisbury School, 67 Salisbury Rd, Richmond.

When: Sunday, December 2, 3pm till 6pm.

- Nelson

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