The Queen Charlotte College community rose to their feet in applause when head girl Cheyenne Conroy-Mosdell was named the 2012 dux at the college prizegiving Thursday night.
College principal Tom Parsons held students and their families and friends in suspense as he spoke proudly of Cheyenne's achievements during her seven years at the college.
The crowd stood and clapped as Cheyenne walked to the stage again, where she had already received a slew of awards, including sport achievement certificates, the Patricia Burns Cup for sportswoman of the year, the Julia Braddock Memorial Cup for outstanding contribution to college life by a senior girl, the Kay Buckner Scholarship for Humanities, the Jodie Piper Social Science Cup and the Maori Women's Welfare League Cup for general excellence.
Mr Parsons' announcement still surprised Cheyenne.
"It was a bit of a shock to hear my name," she said after the ceremony.
"I knew I was in the running for a few of them, but I didn't know the final outcome.
"I just hope what I've done can inspire people the way I've been inspired by others."
Cheyenne's parents and grandparents had been moved to tears earlier in the ceremony when Cheyenne gave her final head girl speech reflecting on her seven years at the college, the friends and teachers who had supported her, and her family.
The speech had been her chance to show people how much they were appreciated, she said.
"I was breaking up a bit at the end; it was quite a hard speech.
"I'm so happy, but so sad to be leaving - this is a great way to do it."
Cheyenne will head to the University of Canterbury to study law, history and English. She was considering becoming a secondary school teacher, but was keeping her options open.
She planned to work during summer to save money for when she starts university in February.
The college annouced next year's head students at the prizegiving: Nick Ivamy will be head boy and Ruby Maurice will be head girl.
- The Marlborough Express