A school in New Zealand last week held a Possum Hunt and Gala, where students shot possums and then competed in a carcass-throwing contest. Answering critics, principal Colin Martin said, "Colyton School is about letting kids be kids."
The story, and accompanying photographs of children tossing dead animals, first appeared in the Manawatu Standard newspaper. For the contest, kids set off in groups to shoot and kill possums. Each possum pelt was sold as part of the school fundraising event. Principal Martin told the paper before the contest, "There is no official catchment area. So the possums can be shot anywhere." What's weird about a bunch of kids running around with guns shooting possums?
After racking up a nice death toll and tossing the carcasses around, the school has come under fire from the SPCA and the paper's readers. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Principal Martin released a statement, saying:
In a small rural district rocked by tragedy in recent months the Possum Hunt and Gala was just what we needed. The positive response from the community was fantastic and served to bring the school and community closer together.
"Beyond the fund-raising that took place the real positives of this event were that children got to engage with the outdoors, learned that guns are tools and not toys and gained a greater understanding of what it means to be humane in the destruction of pests.
"They learnt that shooting is a far better death for a possum than traps or poison. This type of contextual learning is far more valuable than reading this stuff from books.
True. Kids really need to learn some good old fashioned animal mutilation skills. Books? Ha.