Wisps of Snow

Ross Richdale

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Karla Spicer is called in as a Change Principal at Tuckett Area School in a remote New Zealand district. This small school takes pupils from Year I to 13 but has a falling roll, an apathetic principal, Don Trow and a divided board of trustees. The Ministry of Education is considering closing the high school section and downgrading the school to take just primary pupils (Year 1 - 8) pupils.

Karla and her husband Ryan move south and begin to cure the school's problems. Ryan is a computer programmer who finds that the school is heavily in debt because Don Trow is faking online accounts and is betting on a Russian casino. He has run up huge debts and they want their money. By running down the PTA account he has paid off most of these debts but the casino is run by an international terrorist organisation named Haqq Nar.

When Karla tells Trow she has knowledge of his illegal activities, he agrees to cooperate. Programmes are changed, slack teachers made to improve and the pupils become one co-operative unit. Ryan also takes on a part time position as school bus driver with his tiny bus travelling through the remote hinterland north of the school. Karla is also asked by the Ministry of Education to help at two other small schools in the area with teacher or board of trustees problems.

Karla is curious when two businessmen arrive in town by helicopter and head for Trow's office. She intervenes just as Trow is about to be shot but is herself wounded. The would-be assassins escape but do not abandon their bid to make an example of Tuckett Area School.

Ryan is near the end of his school bus route when his bus is hijacked. Five children and himself are flown by helicopter to a remote mountain hut but the kidnappers have no intention of letting them survive. They are just pawns in a sinister plot to get a Haqq Nar cell established in New Zealand.

Can Karla cope when she realises that not only the police but the secret service and military are involved in rescue attempts?


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Joseph Ward Junior High School was huge with four teaching blocks with vertically arranged syndicates of about two hundred and fifty students in each. They were named after ocean birds; Gannet, Petrel, Tern and Shearwater and had their names prominently displayed on the buildings that incorporated six Year 7 and 8 home classroom……

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