It's only taken one year at high school for Michael Kennerley to be top of the class.
The 17-year-old student was one of two students awarded the top academic prize of dux at Massey High School.
But his journey to the top is a unique one.
Michael has only attended one year of high school - year 13 - after being home-schooled since he was five.
He and his eight siblings have all been taught by their mum Julie at their West Harbour home until they felt ready to attend a public mainstream school.
Going to high school was always on the cards but his first day was chaotic Michael says.
"It was going to be something new to me and it would allow me to get more friends.
"You do miss the social aspect when you are home-schooled.
"It was challenging trying to find people to hang out with in the breaks but everyone has been very friendly."
Michael's mother is a trained primary teacher and taught him until year 9, the rest of his school work was completed through correspondence.
Having the home-school background has contributed to his success this year.
"I'm used to working out of a book so I didn't have to force myself to work and study. But being named dux was very surreal."
Taking subjects including calculus, statistics, physics, chemistry and English has set him up to do a bachelor of engineering next year at The University of Auckland.
Julie Kennerley is thrilled over her son's achievement and says all credit goes to him.
"We are terribly proud of him and he's worked so hard. He's had to be very self-motivated and had very little formal teaching throughout his high school years."
Mrs Kennerley says instilling Christian values in the children and giving them more freedom was behind the choice to home-school.
Michael does have some advice for future students aiming for academic excellence.
"It's up to you whether you do well but I would say do subjects you love and give yourself the motivation.
"This has been my most memorable year."
Michael shares the school's dux award with fellow year 13 student Mark Huang.
- Western Leader
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