Year 13 drama pupils at Logan Park High School in Dunedin bid farewell to teacher Denise Walsh (back row, fifth from left). The pupils are (back row, from left) Maya Barrett, Orion Carey-Clark, Katrina Lamont, Jordan Dickson, George Wallace, Sophie Acklin, (front row, from left) Perry Goldsmith, Olivia Scott, Marlina Lobitz, Bene Stewart and Dom Harrison.
I don't know many people who have the dedication and
commitment to stick at one job for 45 years, let alone one
where you spend your days surrounded by groups of, at times,
"challenging" teenagers, doing too much work for not enough
However, the brilliantly talented Denise Walsh is one who has
had the drive to accomplish such a feat.
Originally a teacher at King Edward Technical College, she
moved to Logan Park where she left shorthand and typing
behind to embark on what would turn into a glittering career
as a drama teacher.
Other Logan Park senior staff members have described her
style as "radical" for its time.
She has always tried to find roles for her pupils that are
appropriate for their age.
However, finding plays about 13 to 18-year-olds, which they
could relate to turned out to be harder than you'd think.
So being the great improviser she is, Denise turned her hand
to playwriting. Now her award-winning youth-orientated plays
are performed throughout the country, and a large group of
privileged Logan Park pupils has had the honour of performing
the premiere performances of these. I am lucky enough to
count myself as one of that group.
But just putting on a production for parents of your pupils
isn't enough for this teacher, oh no; she has travelled the
country and the world showing how talented her kids are.
Germany, Japan, America, Westport and Invercargill are just a
few of the places that have been privy to performances that,
under her skilled direction, let pupils tell stories that
relate to them.
And apparently other people thought the plays were quite
good, too. She literally has enough awards to cover a wall of
her classroom, both for her writing skills and that of the
actors who brought them to life.
Sadly Mrs Walsh will be leaving Logan Park at the end of this
year. And while she reassures us her replacement is world
class, we'll miss her.
I think myself lucky to have been able to experience three
years with her, growing both as an actor and as a person.
But it's not the awards or acclaim I will remember about my
time with Ms Walsh, it's the genuine concern and care she has
for her students that will leave its mark on me.
It takes a special sort of person, more than just a teacher,
to refer to a group of teenagers as her family, and have them
But that's really what our senior drama class has been; a
We have the odd fight or bicker a bit, but at the end of the
day we've got our matriarch at the helm helping to pull
everyone together in every way.
I know I speak on behalf of all your family, past and
present, when I say that we, with the greatest sincerity and
appreciation, thank you for all the work you've done for us.
The weekend and holiday practices, the long trips, the trying
I feel proud and honoured to have been part of your family,
as we all do. Ms Walsh, you are drama and drama is you, and I
like drama. I like it quite a lot.
• By Jordan Dickson, Year 13, Logan Park High School