When Eilish Tipper started at Awatapu College, her mother had some advice for her.
"I remember my mum saying ‘go out and be involved, don't be the shy young thing you were at intermediate'," she says.
Eilish took that advice and ran with it, becoming involved with a number of activities over the years. Now 17, she recently received the Honours Award for Service and Rotary Award for Community Service.
The school's sports co-ordinator, Jeanette Daysh, says the awards are given to a student who has shown an outstanding commitment to serving others.
Eilish also coaches netball and softball teams, umpires netball, was on the school ball committee and involved with Relay for Life, and volunteers with special needs students. She has been awarded the school's Service to Sport award three years in a row.
Mrs Daysh says she recognised very early on that Eilish was going to be a high achiever.
"I shoulder-tapped her, I could see she had the capability. Right from the get-go she has been helping and was a very capable student. Every time there was a job that came up she was the obvious person to ask."
Eilish has coached the Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School netball team for the past two years and this year she is also umpiring netball and coaching the boys' Super Sport softball team. She has umpired the Awatapu College Junior A team and coached the year 10 netball team.
"I wanted to give back to both the school and to sport and I thought umpiring would be an awesome way to start, because I like kids," says Eilish.
"My mum used to play softball and netball, and my dad played hockey. I started playing T-ball when I was 5 or 6 years old, then netball in about year 3 when I was old enough. I haven't really stopped being involved with netball since."
Unsurprisingly, Eilish says her favourite topic at school would probably be PE, although she prefers the essay-writing side of the subject more than the recreational side. She also enjoys computer studies and plans to train as a nurse when she leaves school.
"This year I was working with the disabled unit - the high dependency unit for students with high needs - for one of my classes.
"I did general help, learning to help them with personal care and toileting, and the splints on their hands and lifting them in and out of their chairs. I would maybe like to be a baby and maternity nurse."
Her work with the disabled students has already led to two job offers to continue working with a couple of students who attend Awatapu College.
Eilish has also been involved with Manawatu Intersecondary School Athletics Association (MISSA).
"This year we hosted MISSA. We had a two-day training course at the end of last year where we helped our form teachers and had training in peer counselling. If a student is having trouble with a friend or relationship issue, they tell us and if we can't sort it, we will take them to a counsellor," says Eilish.
There is very little at school that Eilish isn't involved with.
Mrs Daysh says she was on the school ball committee, was an Awatapu College athletics day official, a swimming sports official, and a Weet-Bix Tryathlon official.
"As well as assisting in the provision of sport Eilish is also a keen participant and has been a member of the golf croquet team and the Awatapu mixed softball team.
"She has not let her increased academic workload lessen her interest in sport. Her time management is exceptional and she takes a no-nonsense approach to getting any job done."
Eilish says she enjoys umpiring netball and plans to keep going until she gains her international umpiring qualifications. While nursing is her aim right now, sports management is also something she'd like to look into.
"I'd like to come back and help Awatapu with netball and softball. I enjoy getting out there and helping my school. With everything I've done and what I'm doing, I'm giving back what I've taken out of it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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