Enrich@ILT students getting creative!

There are some remarkable stories emerging from the old Elmwood Garden site in Invercargill.

The Dee St building is now home to Enrich@ILT, a school that is an example of innovative thinking backed by the community, along with the ILT. It’s something Invercargill should be proud of.

Enrich@ILT is a school that helps with the education of gifted and talented students.

Before we delve into the journey of the Enrich@ILT project we’ll touch on some of the remarkable stories to help paint a picture.

Enrich teacher Marlene Campbell says they have six-year-olds who are studying university papers.

“It’s happened more than once. We’ve had two go to do university papers at that age. And we’ve got four or five doing NCEA,” Campbell says.

One of the six-year-olds has been accepted into Mensa International. To do so you need to complete an IQ test score in the upper two percent of the population.

“You can’t fake it,” Campbell says.

Enrich was the result of a collaboration formed in 2008 between all 22 Invercargill City primary schools.

The schools collectively put together a funding application to ILT which aligned with the board’s focus on education and supporting Invercargill’s young people.

Since 2010 the ILT has donated close to $7 million to Enrich. ILT is the sole funder of the unique school.

Annually the ILT Group provide around $500,000 of funding toward its operational costs.

Campbell says a lot of educational funding and resources go to helping lift those who might be struggling in the system.

The offshoot to that is that gifted kids often don’t get the required attention their minds need.

They become bored, they aren’t challenged, and can struggle to fulfill their potential.

It can lead to struggles in their lives.

It’s why “gifted-ed” projects like Enrich are so important, Campbell says.

Enrich now has about 200 pupils attend one-day a week which both challenges them and keeps their minds stimulated at the level they need.

Prior to moving to Enrich’s current site at the former Elmwood Garden, it had been operating in Don St – the old Sugar Shack nightclub building.

Enrich’s latest project to test the kids is producing a graphic novel called “What’s Inside”.

The pupils have been working on illustrations and words which they will turn into a book with over 80 unique pages.

The pupils have had the help of Dunedin illustrator Janet De Wagt and have also been mentored by Cilla McQueen, a well-known poet based in Bluff.

“Janet just thought with these kids a graphic novel would be something they would be really good at and would enjoy. It’s different from just doing brushwork or printmaking. It opens it up to a wider field of what you can do.

“She found kids who are artists who we had no idea about. So, it really brings kids out.”

He Waka Tuia is helping to digitise the pupils’ work and it will be displayed in February.

The graphic novel is a unique celebration of Southland where pupils centred on places and ideas attached to the province with drawing and writing.