Dorie, the little school that could

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From front, left, in the school's native area, Jan-Adriaan Van Wyk, Jennifer Olin, Elliot Watson, Joshua Winter and, rear, Mackenzie Baty, Anthony Dorreen, Sam Kingsbury

By John Keast

The roll of Dorie School once slid to 11.

More than 20 years ago, it was in danger of closing.

There is no danger now.

The smart school’s roll has just passed 80 – its highest – it has received a glowing Education Review Office (ERO) report, a fourth teacher was employed last term, and as soon as it can be arranged, another classroom will be added to a block rebuilt in 2016.

Principal Anthony Dorreen could not be happier.

“We like to think we punch above our weight here – what ever is on offer in Mid Canterbury, we will take part and do well.”

The school, in the district’s northeast corner, has a diverse roll, with Nepalese, Filipino, South African,Tongan and Maori children among the mix.

“We are definitely far more diverse than we used to be.”

Mr Dorreen said the school had a very supportive parent community, and if transport was needed to get pupils to any event, it was always offered.

“This a great place to work with a great team.

“Our kids are robust country kids; they like to get stuck in.

“We have a student council which organises fundraisers. They meet once a month to see how things can be improved.”

Mr Dorreen said the school had children responsible for house groups, and sports monitors.

The ERO report cited the school’s themes are “determination, open-mindedness, respect, integrity and empathy”.

The school has a well cared for area of native plantings and big sports and playing fields, and has the Dorie Preschool (next door) as a feeder.

Later this month a school production, Sweet As, will be held.

It is a light-hearted look at New Zealand history, and produced by second-year teacher Paige Hampton.

Mr Dorreen said the irony was that 20 to 25 years ago, Dorie (and other schools) were slated to close, but that was avoided.

He said the intensification and diversity of farming in the area had helped bring the roll up and keep it there.

Mr Dorreen said that the roll was likely to stay around where it was.