'Special' dux sweeps up top awards

TOP ACHIEVER: Ed Palmer, Nelson College Dux, with headmaster Gary O’Shea  at the Nelson College prizegiving.
TOP ACHIEVER: Ed Palmer, Nelson College Dux, with headmaster Gary O’Shea at the Nelson College prizegiving.

Not many people can excel to the same level as the 2012 Nelson College Dux.

Ed Palmer, 18, won the Colin Neale Memorial Trophy and Medallion at the senior prizegiving last night.

The year 13 student received awards for top class marks, academic scholarships, a medallion for national achievements and scholarships to two New Zealand universities.

He said he had not yet decided whether to take the scholarship at Auckland University or Otago University.

"I have to make a big decision, which involves lots of money, I guess. I think I'll try and choose the place that's best for me to live in terms of my happiness."

He said while he suspected he might have come top in one or two classes, to win anything was a huge privilege.

"I'm extremely surprised and very humbled to have won [dux], there's a lot of very top students here.

"The biggest honour is being able to work with such great guys throughout the year."

Wherever he goes next year, Ed is planning to do health science, which would hopefully lead to studying medicine.

"I'd love to get into medical school. [A speciality though] is too far down the road to decide on."

Aside from his academic achievements, Ed is also a keen runner and involved with music, though said he definitely still found time to have a social life.

"You've got to keep a balance."

He played the double bass for the three-piece band, New Vinyl, which won the national Smokefreerockquest competition in September.

He said the biggest help throughout the year was his dad.

"He was always there for me, he's been great."

Knowing he was leaving Nelson College and going out into the "big, wide, real world" was a bit scary and daunting he said.

"But I think Nelson College has prepared me to do the best and I'm sure with more hard work, everyone will be fine.

"It's the end of an era, but it's the right time to move on. Of course I'll miss it, my mates and the good memories, especially just the boys."

Headmaster Gary O'Shea said it was clear who the dux would be.

"There were two or three others who were very close to each other, but not to him.

"Often a dux will be totally in the music arts humanities line, others that are totally maths and science, but he's one that actually crosses both.

"That's quite special. There's not many that can excel at that level."

Judge urges school leavers to aspire

he best time to appear before a judge in criminal court is never, Justice John Wild told the boys of Nelson College last night.

In the years ahead, Nelson College school leavers should aspire, and be young men who strive for excellence, said the Court of Appeal judge.

Justice Wild, a Nelson College old boy, was the guest speaker at the senior prizegiving and told the students what he wanted to say could be boiled down to the mnemonic aspire.

The A, he said, stood for aim.

"Aim to do the very best you can with the talents you have and the qualifications you get."

The boys should find the thing they were good at and/or enjoyed doing because an occupation was so much more rewarding when it was enjoyed.

His second point was service, and he quoted former American president John F Kennedy's famous words "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country".

"I challenge you in the years ahead to ask yourself the same question, ask what you can do for your country, for your local community, your trade, profession, your sports club or church or whatever it is.

"As in almost anything in life, the more you will put in, the more you will get out," he said.

P was about staying positive, because positive people were better to be, work and play with, he said. Negative people "are a real drag".

Personal integrity, letter I, was a priceless asset in life, so he urged the pupils to build up a reputation as someone who could be trusted and relied upon.

"Then guard that reputation all your life. Never let yourself down, by being a thief, or a liar or a cheat.

"If you do it will be very hard indeed to restore your reputation."

He also said that as a judge, he could tell them that the best time to appear before a judge in a criminal court, was never.

The R was for resilience, which meant never giving up on your aims and aspirations. "If something is worth striving for then try, try and try again until you succeed. You can and you will," he said.

Finally, E was for experience.

"I've found that a good motto in life is carpe diem, literally, seize the day. That involves squeezing as much as you can out of every day. If opportunity knocks, grab it."

Justice Wild said he would particularly encourage the boys to take every opportunity that came their way to travel overseas.

"When you return to New Zealand, as I hope you will, you will realise what an extraordinarily beautiful, quite isolated country this is. You will have a keen appreciation of what is good . . . about New Zealand but also, what we can do better."