Taradale is like a suburb to the city of Napier. The town is fairly quaint and relatively quiet. There is a shopping center in the middle of town that has a few cafes, clothing shops, and banks. Not many bars and no hotels, to give you an idea. The town population is about 17,000, which is comparable to Anoka, MN with Napier being as big as Blaine, MN.
Taradale High School, from what I gather, is a typical New Zealand high school.
(“Kia Ora” is Maori for “Welcome”)
This is their map. You’ll notice that there are a lot of smaller buildings instead of one big building like we have in Minnesota (but not uncommon to warmer states like California). Side note: this eliminates the foreign concept of “Hall Duty.” Students can just roam around campus between classes and at lunch.
Lunch. You’ll also notice that there is no cafeteria listed on the map. They don’t have cafeterias here. They have a canteen where students can purchase items (like an a la carte) but they have no room or building devoted to eating meals. Kids just sit around outside on benches and eat the food they brought from home. There are no hot lunches on trays in a buffet-style corral like I’m used to seeing. Also, the government does not generally provide food for students for low-income families, like the US, (although this is a new trend that is being proposed.)
All students are required to wear uniforms. This is typical for all schools in New Zealand. The codes are quite strict:
Some of my favorites are:
- “No extreme styles permitted, e.g. dreadlocks, Mohawks, “rats’ tails,” afro styles, mullets or hair shorter than a number 2 comb.”
- “No mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, lipstick or blusher is permitted.”
- “Nail polish is not permitted at school.”
Fairly strict. Although I’m finding myself more and more on board with the idea of uniforms. At first look, I can’t tell what students come from poor families or rich families and it’s not weird when our special education students wear the same sweatshirt every single day to school (like a lot of my former students did in Minnesota). I don’t really understand the make up part of it, but my host mom explained that the theory is that you don’t need make up at school to learn. Eh, I’m pretty indifferent on that rule. I don’t understand it but I don’t think it’s hell-raising issue.
Oh and students are required to wear shorts or skirts. Even when it’s rainy and 40 degrees. And they eat lunch outside, remember. Different.
This is the school’s timetable:
The classes are different everyday. And on Thursdays the classes are different every week. Each week is lettered A-F and each class on Thursday is labeled A-F as well. For each week, the corresponding class starts out the rotation for that day and the other classes follow alphabetically. They have staff meetings everyday except every second Thursday of the month but every other Thursday during senior exams. And if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of Second Quarter.
Most students, if not all, walk to school. There is no publicly funded school bus. There is a public city bus that can take students, but they have to pay regular bus fare. This is one of the biggest differences between NZ schools and US schools, which mandates public transportation for all students to get to school. And some students get dropped off by their parents via car, but not many.
Taradale High School also has a notable international student body. There are 46 international students here from Germany, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and Brazil. International students pay for their education here, much like a private school, and stay with host families. Because of this, there are programs at this school similar to our English as a Second Language programs bridging language and cultural inconsistencies.
Typical high school with typical teenagers. They just have accents and call me “miss.”