Today I had the pleasure and honour of being invited back to St Andrew’s College where I have previously worked as the Director of ICT to be part of the opening of the Green Library & Innovation Centre. This was only an idea and dream when I left in 2016 and to see this fully realised through the leadership and vision of Wilj Dekkers, Head of Innovation and Information, was such a joy and privilege.
As the guests arrived to be seated they were welcomed by the College’s Kapa Haka group who sang a number of waiata (songs):
The Rector, Christine Leighton, provided the opening address before introducing Wilj Dekkers, the Head of Innovation and Information for the new Green Centre with this whakatauki (Māori proverb):
He rangi tā matawhāiti
He rangi tā matawhānui
A person with narrow vision has a restricted horizon.
A person with wide vision has plentiful opportunities.
I was very impressed with Wilj as he described the genesis of the idea behind the Green Centre, the journey through to completion and as he acknowledged all of those who contributed to the project along the way.
At this point he described his vision for the Green Centre to be a place where students are challenged to grow, allowed to fail, and ultimately explore and find their passions. He shared a number of projects that were underway by students in the Centre (we got to walk around after the formalities and talk to these students) such as:
- Students re-creating the damaged Christchurch Cathedral inside of Minecraft:Education Edution with a similar project scope used to re-imagine the Battersea Powerstation in the UK.
- A student who was exploring a business project of creating educational apps, including one already created using Virtual Reality to help students in a special-needs school learn safe ways to cross the roads
- Students using 3D printing and laser cutting to design wearable art
- Students competing in Vex Robotics Competitions (one of these robots was used to cut the ceremonial ribbon, officially opening the new Green Centre – see below)
- A student who had programmed a web application to receive payments and collate orders for junior students in the Preparatory School to safely and easily place lunch orders from the school cafeteria
- A student who had designed and then built the St Andrew’s College Chapel entirely out of Lego blocks
The St Andrew’s College writer in residence Kerrin P Sharpe wrote a poem for the building entitled Kakariki Twins which means “Green” in Te Reo Māori:
This sister whare matauranga
is a pataka of books.
The mistress of reading,
who grew her roof, her walls,
her foundations from the earth.
This brother whare auaha
meanders between land and sea
and carves solutions
from many floating ideas.
She braids her hair, with shingle
from the Rakaia River.
He braids his hair, with shingle
from the Rangitata River.
She’s the one who carries
clear water to farms
and coaxes wrybills,
terns, gulls, dotterels
back to their wetlands.
He’s the one who thinks
about the double helix
of water, the technology
of the natural bridge.
Like woven threads
they construct rafts together
and lower water levels.
Whare matauranga plants
saplings beside Strowan Stream
and dreams in green.
Whare auaha swims
inside the sky
and knows no limits.
These twins, green and innovative,
cradle the St Andrew’s hapii
Kerrin P. Sharpe
Finally, the big reveal with a student created robot cutting the ceremonial ribbon:
One of the coolest parts for me was seeing a Year 9 student called Ivy working on a Surface Studio showcasing her amazing artistic talent:
As a Year 6 student she was a student of Mr Dekkers when he was still a full time classroom teacher and ended up appearing in a Surface Pro video:
It was special to see her progress since then and ‘complete the story’ in a way.
Overall this was a very special event to be invited to and I’m excited to see how the innovation continues through the Green Centre.