Class Act 2023: Lawrence Area School

Toby Harrex


Toby Harrex knows he wants to work anywhere but behind a desk.

The 18-year-old Lawrence Area School head boy will study toward a degree in physical education at the University of Otago next year.

After that, he knows he wants to work in the sporting sector.

‘‘Something hands on — not behind a desk.’’

Sport is something he has always enjoyed.

‘‘I just love it . . . and just want to keep doing it for the rest of my life.’’

He has a particular love of rugby, which he has played since the age of 5.

Toby plays for the South Otago High School First XV in rugby, and this year was made captain.

‘‘[It is] pretty cool to be able to just step up and try to inspire other people.’’

The leadership opportunities Toby has taken on are ‘‘a massive honour’’, he says.

He has made the most of every opportunity he has been given.

Toby says he is ‘‘just trying to get the best out of everyone around me’’.

This year, he was selected for the New Zealand Area Schools Barbarian team, a long-held goal.

Besides rugby, Toby has represented Lawrence Area School in the team ball sport Kī o Rahi and last year was the school’s senior boys’ swimming, athletics and cross-country champion.

This year he was selected for the New Zealand Area Schools Kī o Rahi team.

He has had academic success too.

Toby achieved both NCEA Level 1 and 2 with excellence and has received the academic award for his year for the past two years.


Achievements: Head boy (2023); NCEA Level 1 with excellence (2021); NCEA Level 2 with excellence (2022); New Zealand Area Schools 
leadership course (2023); Outward Bound —  Mind, Body, Soul course (2022); house captain (2022); South Otago High School First XV (2021-23), captain (2023); vice-captain (2022); U16 Otago Country rugby representative; New Zealand Area Schools South Island rugby team, captain (2022, 23), New Zealand Area Schools South Island kī-o-rahi team (2022, 2023); New Zealand Area Schools national 
rugby, Ki-o-Rahi teams (2023); senior boys swimming champion (2020-22); senior boys athletics champion (2022); senior boys cross-country champion (2022); best all-round rugby player (2020-22); most outstanding player in kī-o-rahi (2020, 2022); academic award year 11 (2021); academic award year 12 (2022); excellence in a senior academic subject —  Level 2 biology (2022); award for senior social sciences (2022); senior speech trophy (2022).

Hopes for the future: To study physical education and pursue a career in the sports sector.

Role model: Michael Jones, for not compromising his values for sport.


Samara Sheridan


Adventurous by nature, Samara Sheridan thinks ‘‘it simply just makes sense’’ for her to pursue a career in marine sciences.

The 18-year-old Lawrence Area School pupil says her love of animals and nature, combined with her thirst for knowledge, will allow her to make the difference she hopes to see in the world.

Samara will study towards a marine science degree at the University of Otago next year, with a focus on marine biology.

She hopes to use her studies to research the world’s oceans and to help take action to preserve them.

‘‘I want to be able to make a difference, even if just a small one.’’

Marine sciences appeals to her because of the possibilities it holds for adventure and discovery.

Growing up in a small town has encouraged her curiosity for the wider world.

‘‘While I value the special experience of growing up in a tight community, I am excited for what awaits me outside of Lawrence, and maybe even outside New Zealand.’’

Taking part in Outward Bound was a ‘‘life-changing experience’’, Samara said.

The 21-day course helped her discover her inner confidence and cemented her love of adventure and the ocean, she said.

‘‘Being put into leadership roles at school and for sports is also an achievement that I can thank for my current confidence in leading and taking initiative’’

Samara says she has learnt a lot from her role models — her older sisters, Cody and Jamiesha, who she looks up to in many different ways.

‘‘I will always be proud to be their sister ... without them, life would be a lot lonelier and more boring.’’


Achievements: New Zealand Area Schools leadership course (2023); senior leadership team (2023); co-captain of senior netball team (2023); Outward Bound (2022); NCEA Level 1 with excellence (2021); NCEA Level 2 Merit endorsed (2022); academic award for Year 12 (2022); Highland Pharmacy Award for Excellence in Level 2 Biology (2022); Shirley Omer-Cooper Award for senior school social sciences (2022); Tuapeka Tecorians Speech Trophy (2022); Evan’s Bequest for Diligence in Year 11 (2021); represented school in Otago and South Island Netball Championships (2019, 2021-22); Southern Area School representative for netball and football nationals (2019).

Hopes for the future: To study marine science and become a marine biologist.

Role models: Her two older sisters, Cody and Jamiesha, whom she looks up to.