After months of hard work, Ashburton College’s Stage Challenge team has been rewarded with a haul of awards and titles.

The school was the Christchurch Stage Challenge winners of the open division for 2017.

Along with the main prize, the school collected 10 awards of excellence and the “spirit of stage challenge award”.

The school’s narrative was titled One Small Boy, and explored the idea of the power of social media to transform worldwide thinking.

Centered around the Syrian refugee crisis, Ashburton College teacher Claire Bubb said the narrative explored how the one image of a young Syrian refugee who had drowned, and washed up on a beach in Turkey, had been a catalyst for worldwide attention on the issue.

Given eight minutes to perform the narrative, and not able to make any sound from on the stage, the students delivered the piece in three major scenes.

“In the first scene it was the little boy on the beach, then it went in to full on war with soldiers and explosions before a scene in the lifeboat on a sea of students representing the ocean, before the boy goes overboard and is dragged down and drowned by the ocean,” said Bubb.

“The students then came and took photos which were sent all over the world, and the final scene was of a refugee camp, showing refugees with hope and building a future.

“As they weren’t allowed to make noise on the stage, we used voiceovers and news reports about the little boy which was very powerful.”

The judges’ comments of the performance described it as “confronting, visually stunning and powerful”, and left one judge crying throughout.

A 90-student strong team made the trip to the Horncastle Arena at 7am on Friday, with the group not returning until 1am on Saturday morning.

“The performance was purely student directed, choreographed and produced,” said Bubb.

“It was amazing and had a huge effect on the audience.

“I am really proud of the students for having the bravery to delve into something so hard-hitting.”

Bubb said many students described it as the best day ever.

The students had 30 minutes on stage to prepare, before spending the rest of the day in “production meetings”, socialising with 1500 other students.

“It was a fantastic experience, the whole thing, creating it and then seeing it come to life,” she said.

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 22 May 2017

John TurtonJohn Kieran Turton September 8, 1950, to April 23, 2017. Photo suppliedBusinessman John Turton was one of life’s quiet achievers.

From humble beginnings in a small shed on Alford Forest Road John started a bus building business.

That was in 1985 and over the next 21 years the business, Designline, grew to become an international success story.

Over that time Designline grew from employing four staff to one that employed hundreds.

He broke new ground in bus design, not only becoming the supplier of choice for many national companies, but he also earned a reputation as the international expert on the development of electric buses.

Vehicles built by the Designline company made their way into the transportation networks of many countries.

John was like many school leavers of his generation, keen to leave school and learn a trade.

He was employed by Mid Canterbury Transport and took up an engineering apprenticeship, following that up with a second apprenticeship as a mechanic.

While he had a secure future as an employee, John had a dream.

He saw a gap in the bus manufacturing industry and knew that was a business opportunity in-waiting.

With friend Lester Hobbs he decided to take the plunge, setting up a business they knew would take time to turn a dollar.

They dreamed, designed and took whatever work they could against the day their first order arrived.

The first Designline coach rolled out the door of their factory in April l986. It took four months to build; by the time John sold his business it took just 19 days to take a coach from a sheet of metal to roadworthy.

As the years ticked by Designline’s reputation grew, orders flowed in and staff numbers built. And as the business grew the company moved to larger premises and, again, to even larger premises.

Staff numbers continued to grow, moving to more than 150 with skilled employees brought in from overseas, many from China and Romania who have now become New Zealand residents.

While John’s reputation was established on building high quality buses, it grew on his belief that electric hybrid buses were the way of the future. His development work was to take him around the world, including time spent at the US space research base Nasa.

With Designline’s reputation established as an industry leader, it was inevitable it would attract the attention of overseas buyers. In 2006 the company was sold to American interests, but John remained at the helm and his staff at the plant.

One year later he took up a position as senior executive vice-president of Designline International, relocating for part of the year to a base in Charlottesville, North Carolina.

He continued to divide his time between Ashburton and Charlottesville for the next two years.

In 2009 John decided it was time to retire and that coincided with the company’s move from Ashburton to Rolleston’s Izone.

John might not have been an enthusiastic student, but he proved himself an accomplished athlete, holding the Ashburton College mile record for many years and achieving his Duke of Edinburgh Award and his Queen’s Scouting honour.

While his business became his life, John still found time to travel, play golf and to indulge his passion for trap and skeet shooting.

He won champion of champion awards in Ashburton, took titles at regional and South Island championships as well as a bronze in the National Australian Skeet Shooting Championships.

His was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 for his contribution to business.

His employees described him as a firm but fair boss who enjoyed mentoring his staff to achieve their personal and professional goals.

They said he was an employer who was a true entrepreneur and for whom nothing was impossible, no idea too big. There was always a way to make it happen.

To his friends he was a generous man and a fun friend, a man who achieved more by the time he hit 40 than many people did in a lifetime.

And to Bev,  his wife of 43 years, John was a man who had a strong focus and commitment to whatever he did – his business, his friends and his marriage.

He embraced opportunities and made the best of every situation, including the years during which Alzheimer’s took over his life.

John Turton died on April 23, at the age of 66.

By Sue Newman © The Ashburton Guardian -  May 2017

Molly StapletonAshburton College will be looking for another big game from Molly Stapleton when they take on United at the EA Networks Centre tonight. Photo Ashburton GuardianTwo local derbies will be the feature of this week’s premier netball competition as all six local teams return home for the first time this season.

The new inter-centre competition featuring teams from Christchurch and North Canterbury has seen one or two teams travel each week, with Celtic still the only team to notch up a win against a non-local team.

They will feature in one of the local derbies this week, taking on Southern A, while the other will be between Ashburton College A and United A.

Momentum is with the Ange Leadley coached Celtic, who are coming off the back of two emphatic wins against Kaiapoi and then the high flying Lincoln University team last week.

They were also successful against Hampstead in their first outing, winning 47-21 in the first week of competition.

With some tough games for the first few weeks of competition, Southern will be looking to build on their combinations and halt the winning streak of last year’s runners-up.

Ashburton College will also be hoping their momentum continues, as they have gone from strength to strength since the beginning of the season.

They will be hoping to make it two from two in their local derby against United A, who remain winless after four weeks.

Methven A and Hampstead A will fly the local flag against Christchurch opponents, taking on St Nicholas and Halswell respectively.

Both teams will be searching for their first wins, particularly the defending champions Methven who last week lost to Ashburton College 44-35, despite a valiant effort to only be behind by two goals heading into the last quarter.

The College team gave St Nicholas a good run for their money in week two of the competition, pushing them all the way in a 46-39 defeat, and Methven will be hoping to produce a full 60 minute performance to also remain competitive.

Hampstead A suffered a tough loss last week against competition front-runners Kereru and it doesn’t get any easier for them this week as they take on Halswell, who have won convincingly against both Methven and Ashburton College in previous rounds.

All of the inter-centre games will take place at the EA Networks Centre starting tonight at 7.30pm.

© The Ashburton Guardian - 11 May 2017