Wounded soldiers fight for Burnham School
Wed, 19 Sep 2012 6:18p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
A decorated Kiwi soldier wounded in a fatal attack in Afghanistan last month is fighting to save his children's school in Canterbury.
Burnham School is one of 13 schools which could be closed under the Government's new proposal. Just two weeks out of hospital and Major Craig Wilson's now battling to keep his children's school open.
“It's important to everyone who has got kids in the Defence Force that Burnham School stays open, because Burnham's a major base, and there are a number of people posted in and out of here and they need the stability that that provides," says Mr Wilson.
“The school co-ordinated all of the support to my family and for that I am incredibly grateful."
Mr Wilson was shot in the shoulder in Bamiyan last month. His wife Lynda travelled over to accompany him home. Back in Burnham, the school community rallied to help out.
“They were totally understanding,” Ms Wilson says. “We had food coming, delivered every day, the children were looked after and really watched to make sure they were handling the situation, because it is pretty unique in the way that it all unfolded.”
The 128-year-old school, right on the edge of Burnham Military Camp, has 130 students, almost two-thirds from military families.
Despite being the heart of the community, the school is one of 13 the Ministry of Education has earmarked for closure. The news came as the camp was still dealing with the deaths of five soldiers killed in Afghanistan last month.
The husbands of Louise and Michelle, who didn't want to give their last names, are still over there.
“It's a kick in the guts after what we've been dealing with over the last couple of months with what has been happening overseas,” Louise says. “It seems like a constant punching bag of different things happening to our community.”
“At first we had the shock and then the sadness and then the anger and now we are at the fight,” Michelle says. “That's what we get taught.”
Acting principal Sandra Keenan says quake damage has already been fixed. Now the school has been told the cost of upgrading to a new building code is too expensive.
“They are saying $3.5 million worth of repair work needs to happen.”
Students can’t see any problems with their school.
“If you walked around the school you wouldn't see that damage,” Maka Nui says.
“When our parents go away, we get support and help and sometimes we get counselling if some kids are struggling,” Shalagh Kabanagh-Ward says.
The Ministry of Education will hold a formal consultation with all the schools before any decision is made.
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21/09/2012 12:03:34 a.m.
How apalling is to community to loose 5 of there brothers be supporting their injured, then wait for. Those. Still fighting who will now have to return home. To fight. For their childrens school.
Shame on us all and not the best way to honour fallen and. Injured heroes _
20/09/2012 4:49:31 p.m.
Dee Donovan wrote:
InsensItive, heartless, short sighted and obviously not in touch with the people. Mr Key, you have failed the servicemen and women of New Zealand.
20/09/2012 11:48:42 a.m.
Any education policy must now be incorporated in John Banks non election secret charter school agenda. These closers and mergers are just all part of the policy. Too claim they are not is a falsehood. Wheres the nearest school to Burnham these kids will need to be bused too.
20/09/2012 7:47:02 a.m.
ticked off wrote:
This is a community school, specific really, to the local industry and it should stay.. while the high decile Heaton Intermediate, is staying...no surprizes there.. who votes national..? oh that's right.. wealthy
19/09/2012 11:22:46 p.m.
Robert W wrote:
Not a good look from the education Department. I know the school well, surely its not that bad.
Good on you Craig maybe they'll change their minds.
Godbless New Zealand.
19/09/2012 7:24:08 p.m.
Wayne Hawker wrote:
This is the very reason behind my rally on Sat To me Major Wilson is a true hero and we all need to stand and fight just like Major Wilson Communities are the power behind the schools and Schools are the Identity of the community. Lose the school lose the community
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