How to be a top student

JOANNE BENNETT
Last updated 12:12 31/12/2013
timaru duxes

DUX STUDENTS: Clockwise from left, Meg Laurenson, Lisa-Sophie Kuepper, Shannon Frewen, Matthew Geach, Luke Preston-Marshall, and Lydia Oldfield.

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Here is the second instalment of our feature on South Canterbury school dux students - find out a little more about these high-achievers, their secret to success, and what their plans are now.

■ Opihi College
Shannon Frewen

Tell us about yourself.

I started primary school at Gleniti primary in Timaru and when I was eight my family and I moved to Temuka, where I finished at Temuka Primary School. I love being with my friends and family and playing sports like netball and basketball.

How hard did you have to work?

I feel I worked my hardest this year in trying to get Dux, especially with all of the tough competition. The secret to my success was definitely support from my family and friends and also my teachers and the staff at Opihi College who all really helped me aim for my goal.

What are your plans now?

Next year I am studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Chemistry at Otago University so I am really hoping that works out for me and I'm really excited for my next step. In five years time I hope to be successful with what ever I choose to do but at the moment I'm not to sure where the bachelor of science will take me.

■ Roncalli College (joint dux)
Matthew Geach

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in England and moved to New Zealand when I was one year old. I have lived in South Canterbury ever since moving to New Zealand and attended to St Joseph's primary school. My interests are sport and music, in particular tennis, football and piano.

How hard did you have to work?

I had to work very hard to achieve my academic goals. Balancing sporting and cultural commitments alongside academic work was key to making this year successful. Spending time to sit down and make a study plan is really useful, especially as year 13 can be a hectic year.

What are your plans now?

Next year I will study a Bachelor of Commerce at Victoria University which I hope to complete in three years time. I would then like to spend some time travelling around Europe.

■ Roncalli College (joint dux)
Lisa-Sophie Kuepper

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Germany in Duesseldorf, but I moved to NZ in 2009. I was lucky enough to almost experience the full high school experience here in NZ starting in term 4 in year 9 at Roncalli College. It is quite different in NZ compared to Germany, where I attended primary school and over three years of high school, as high school starts in year 5.

In Germany there are no prize givings or awards for first in class or sports or anything, school is mainly focused on academics only. However, I have always been very interested in everything to do with music: dancing, singing and playing violin.

How hard did you have to work?

I worked very hard right from the start of the year and something that helped me through this year was my regular breaks going to jazz three to four times a week. I would say my secret to hard work is commitment but also regular breaks from study to do some exercise and to give your mind a healthy break for about an hour a day are very helpful. The most important and helpful thing however was the endless support my family gave me throughout the entire year and also my faith.

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What are your plans now?

Next year I am going to Otago University to study music and chemistry in a BA, and in five years time I'd like to have a secondary school teaching diploma, but I'd also like to continue my study focusing on audio engineering and possibly be working in a recording studio to get some experience in that particular field of music.

■ Mackenzie College
Meg Laurenson

Tell us about yourself.

I was Head Girl at Mackenzie College this year, I love netball probably more than a normal person should, and I have a brother and a sister - the brother being John Laurenson who you may have been reading about recently as his blogs about life in France are printed here.

I grew up in a small Valley called Paerau, about 45 minutes south of Ranfurly in Central Otago. I went to Paerau School which reached a peak roll of seventeen while I was there, and unfortunately has since closed due to lack of numbers.

However, I feel that small, unique learning environment played an enormous role in my being awarded Dux. I followed this with six years at Mackenzie College which has played an equally important part in my achievement; the learning environment at both schools was unbeatable in my eyes.

The science, cooking and now sporting facilities at Mackenzie are state of the art, but most importantly the staff across all subject areas are incredible. I love learning and I really enjoy my classes, and I think you need that in order to achieve well academically.

What are your plans now?

Next year I am returning to Mackenzie College to take a couple more level three NCEA subjects in order to increase my future study and career options, as well as working on our farm.

I'm hoping to remain involved with the school by coaching junior netball and managing sports teams. Following this I plan to study something involving the sciences at Otago University.

■ Craighead
Lydia Oldfield

Tell us about yourself.

I am the youngest of four children and grew up on a farm in Seadown. I went to Seadown and St Joseph's Timaru primary schools before going to Craighead in year 7. My interests include dancing, netball, tennis, ukulele, singing, acting and tramping.

How hard did you have to work?

Like everything in life, success doesn't come without hard work. A good work ethic and prioritising has been crucial to my success this year along with the endless support of my family, teachers and friends. My secret for success is maintaining a balance between school work, my social life and extra-curricular activities. It's important to always do the best you can do and not compare yourself to others as everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

What are your plans now?

Next year I will be studying engineering at the University of Canterbury. Having studied French and German throughout high school, I plan to travel and work overseas after finishing my degree.

■ Twizel Area School
Luke Preston-Marshall

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Christchurch, where I lived until one year ago when my family moved to Twizel to buy the hardware store, now called Jake's Hardware.

I was home-schooled until year 9, so I managed to miss out on the whole primary school system. From years 9 to 11 I was at Middleton Grange School in Christchurch, before skipping year 12 and doing my final year here in Twizel.

My interests include playing guitar, singing, public speaking, working as PR and marketing manager for Jake's Hardware and playing basketball - the latter only because I'm two metres tall and thus somewhat unfairly advantaged.

How hard did you have to work?

Going from year 11 straight to year 13 wasn't as hard as I feared, especially when it came to internal assessments.
I did pretty well at those throughout the year, but my end of year exam performance was only average. I haven't worked excessively hard, as my school results have never been my highest priority.

My biggest secret to success would be moving to a small school. My old school had 1400 pupils and 100 in my year level, as opposed to 180 total and about 9 in my year level at Twizel Area School - it doesn't take a genius to see that, statistically speaking, my odds of getting dux improved pretty dramatically with the move!

What are your plans now?

I'm now heading off to Dunedin to study law and possibly marketing at the University of Otago.

In terms of a career, I'm planning to be an internationally successful rockstar.

My main motivation for going to university is for the experience, the friends and the connections, but a law degree will be a useful thing to have in the unlikely event of my singing career not taking off.

- The Timaru Herald

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