School closures 'important for the kids to capture'

Michelle McConnell, pitching her idea to the attendees of Chch Soup summer edition. She aims to engage a group of ...

Michelle McConnell, pitching her idea to the attendees of Chch Soup summer edition. She aims to engage a group of students in her Photo-voice project to help give the student voice expression during this time of transition.


Pupils from four closing Aranui schools will capture their final year in film, thanks to a project by a Christchurch photography student.

Primary school teacher Michelle McConnell, who is studying a Bachelor of Design Photography at Ara Institute of Canterbury, has created Photo-voice – a project that will allow pupils to collate images from their perspective.

Aranui's new year 1 to 13 community campus will eventually cater for 1800 pupils, starting from about 900 from four merged schools which will shut at the end of this year: Aranui Primary, Aranui High, Avondale, and Wainoni.

McConnell won Gap Filler's summer Chch Soup pitch-for-the-pot at The Commons last month. The funds accumulated will be used as a project kick-starter.

"I thought it would be important to capture some of what those schools mean in the community before they're shut.

"In doing that I thought it would be important to capture the children's point of views themselves, because they see the world differently than we might."

The pupils will be taught the basic principles and techniques behind taking a photo to convey a message, with the end product potentially displayed in an exhibition at the end of the year.

"They are then given the opportunity to put together a photo project based around a topic - in this case it would be something to do with their current or future school and their community."

She said they would "beg and borrow some cameras" to make it happen.

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"The most important thing about these schools, or the new school, is the children and the young people who are going to be going to them. That's what this is for. That should be the first place we go to hear their opinions and thoughts on those things that directly affect them."

Te Ora Hou will host the project, as they have done in the past with Polyphony at Papanui Library.

John Solomon, Te Ora Hou communications coordinator, said this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people involved.

"Young people need to have a say in everything. At least with this they get to air out their thoughts and kind of accept the change, moving forward in a positive way."

 - Stuff


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