Two Sophies, two quake-ravaged schools, one instant friendship
It was a chance meeting that became a firm friendship: two Sophies from two quake-ravaged schools, celebrating the end of the school year.
St Michael's Church School in Christchurch won an end-of-year party for its students after registering the largest school team for The Press Summer Starter event on November 29.
In a display of sportsmanship, they invited students from fellow-finalists Redcliffs School to join them at the party on Wednesday.
Redcliffs School faced an ominous future following an unpopular proposal from the Ministry of Education to close it next year.
As they partied, kids from both schools mingled together and danced to music, ate hot dogs, and wrestled over a lolly scramble.
Sophie Dawson, 9, and Sophie Lumb, 8, became instant friends after meeting on the dance floor, bonding over their shared name.
They're from different parts of the city - Dawson from St Michaels, Lumb from Redcliffs - and had never met before, but it soon became clear they were fated to meet.
"Well, we've got the same name," they said, together.
How did they know that?
"We asked each other!"
After making plans to go to the pools together, they agreed the party had been great fun, once again in unison.
St Michael's Church School principal Marshall Diggs said it was exactly what was needed for the schools, which had both faced their share of issues.
"We've both had a negative effect from the earthquakes, so it was a real boost for them. It was so cool to see our field littered with kids again, we were so stoked."
He observed that if Redcliffs did close, his school would likely inherit some of its students, and the party was a positive boost amidst the negative vibes many were feeling.
"It just created a real atmosphere of life and rejuvenation in the central city.
"It broke down barriers, and it was just so cool to see them mingling. It was a real morale booster for Redcliffs, and some of them had tears in their eyes, just saying how great it was."