Tarras School is a seriously cool small school – Central Otago’s smallest, as it happens.

Founded in 1885 with 16 pupils, this year Tarras School (year 1-8) had 14 pupils, ranging in age from five years to 11.

It employs three teachers, two full-time and one part-time, with the board of trustees contributing to teaching wages.

The only school leaver this year was year 8 pupil Madeleine Hewson, who will go to Mount Aspiring College (year 9-13) next year.

“I’ve been at Tarras School for two years. I’m going to Mount Aspiring but I am going to really miss Tarras School. It is really fun being here.

“The people, they are all really kind, and different ages, which I really like,” Madeleine said.

Madeleine intended to spend Christmas at Tarras and was looking forward to spending time with her new baby cousin, Lottie May.

In the final hour of the last day of school, the children tidied their work away, packed up donations of canned food for the food bank, gave out presents, listened to stories and sang songs.

Fellow pupil Rylee Bennett handed out chocolates and farewelled Madeleine.

They completed their last day with a final run around the playground and a photo shoot for the Otago Daily Times

Principal Rachelle Haslegrave has been teaching at the school for four and a-half years.

Her teaching colleagues are Mel Fisher and Chrissy Gibson.

“Tarras had a great school year, despite Covid giving us a couple of extra weeks of holiday.

“The kids came back very refreshed from that.

“We’ve had loads of learning going on. It is really super to be able to have our two learning spaces happening.

“We are very happy for Christmas.

“We did a count and we have got 49 days of holiday, so we are looking forward to that,” Ms Haslegrave said.

Next year, Tarras School could end up with a roll of about 17 pupils.

The school was losing Madeleine to college, but gaining two new entrants at the beginning of the year and expecting to enrol another two pupils later in 2021.