Celebrations to mark Springhill’s 60 years
By Waipawa correspondent Dorothy Parker
On February 5, 1918, the small Central Hawke’s Bay school of Springhill was opened with a roll of 28 pupils and Miss Margaret Cooper as Teacher.
This year, on November 18, the district will mark the diamond jubilee of the school with a full day of celebrations.
About 200 past and present pupils and others associated with the school are expected to attend the celebrations.
A number of the original pupils will also be present and a special guest will be the first teacher, now Mrs M. Worsnop, who is living in the district.
Mrs Worsnop still retains a link with the school as one of the two teachers is her niece, Mrs B. Muggeridge. The other teacher is the principal, Mr R. Appleton-Seymour, Waipawa.
The school roll has fluctuated greatly over the years. In 1933 it dropped to as low as five and had to be subsidised by the parents. For several years in the 1930s there were only seven pupils.
Today the roll is 42 and this includes eight children from Wakarara where the school was closed last year.
Families represented on the first day roll were Green, Macdonald, McLeod, Maulder, Loundes, McCullough, Graham, Rutherford and Bisson.
It is interesting to note that there has been a McLeod attending school every year since it opened.
The longest serving and first male teacher at the school was Mr Calvin Allen whose 23 years as principal ran from 1946 to 1969.
Mr Allen went from Springhill to Golden, a town in British Columbia, Canada. He is at present teaching in Spence Bay near the Arctic Circle.
Like many children attending small country schools, Springhill pupils are encouraged to accept responsibility.
This is most evident at the school’s annual field day run entirely by members of the Springhill School Agricultural Club.
On this day, the boys and girls take complete charge of the competitions for lambs, calves and pets as well as the flower show which also incorporates cooking, sewing and handcraft.
The continuous planting of trees and shrubs, particularly native species, has also been a feature of the school through the years.
Reminiscing about the early days of the district, Mrs Worsnop recalls how an old Maori track was discovered when manuka was being cleared from the flats.
“Distinct wheel marks were found leading across the river to the almost deserted Tikokino pa,” she said.
“In those days, a great deal of manuka had to be cleared before the land could be brought in on the northern side of the road.”
She also remembers the many social gatherings held in the Springhill grain shed before the days of cars and electricity.
“Springhill was at one time a calling place for the old-time swagger who always had a blanket roll and black billy with him,” she said.
There were also times of drought when the well across the road from the school dried up. The well served the horse teams carting logs from sawmills in the foothills.
“The water-race was also a boon in times of drought and dust laden winds,” remembers Mrs Worsnop.
The name Springhill was taken from a particularly strong spring on the hill near the homestead.
When Alex St Clair Inglis and Charles Gully took over Springhill Station in 1865 they decided to call the property Ferniehurst but the original name has persisted.
The Springhill block was sold in 1939 to Horace and Edgar Worsnop whose people came from Yorkshire in the 1880’s.
The programme for the celebrations includes a church service and lunch at the school with a roll call and photographs to follow.
In the evening, a dinner and social will be held in the United Football Hall at Waipawa.
An identity of the district, 86-year-old Mr Roy McLeod now living at Waipukurau will officially open the celebrations.
The jubilee committee, headed by Mr Ray Cheer, comprises Mesdames Beverley Muggeridge, Stephanie Alder, Vivian Leach, Messrs Ian and Murray McLeod, Jim Riddell and Ralph Martin.
A booklet on the history of the school and recollections of residents is being compiled by Mrs Muggeridge.
Photo captions –
THE PRINCIPAL OF SPRINGHILL SCHOOL, Mr R. Appleton-Seymour, talking with senior pupils.