Class Act 2023: South Otago High School

Jethro Ware


Like many of us, Jethro Ware was a kid who thought that one day he might become an astronaut.

Unlike many of us, his sights are still set on the stars.

The 17-year-old South Otago High School prefect is preparing for a career in aerospace.

When Jethro realised becoming an astronaut was a high bar to reach, he took inspiration from a New Zealand aerospace news report and used it to re-focus his aspirations.

‘‘When I was in year 7, I watched a news segment about Rocket Lab’s new capabilities — showing off the new world-class production line that was producing one rocket per week,’’ he said.

‘‘That is what inspired me to pursue a career in aerospace. So in short, it has pretty much always been the goal.’’

Pursuing his dream, Jethro has taken part in the Eliane P Snowdon Astronomy School, in Christchurch, which accepts only 20 young people at a time.

He was also selected for the London International Science Forum where a handful of Kiwis mix it with up to 500 pupils from around the world.

Attending these events allowed him to gain an enormous amount of knowledge in computer science, mathematics and physics.

Jethro is a member of the student council and is the communication, information and technologies prefect.

This year he organised a school computer programming competition.

Jethro already has an excellence endorsement in NCEA level 3 — something he achieved in year 12.


Achievements: Prefect (2023); student council (2023); NCEA Level 1 with excellence; NCEA level 2 with excellence; NCEA level 3 with excellence (2021, 22, 23); academic blue (2021, 22); NZPMC certificate of excellence and national finalist in senior division (2022); Shand Thomson Award — excellence in accounting (2022); F. & E. Cooke Scholarship, general academic (2022); AI programming with python Nanodegree (2022); senior chess champion (2022); H.C. Gardner Cup, cross-country (2021); London International Science Forum (2023); Eliane. P. Snowdon Astronomy School (2023); Otago University Advanced School of Sciences Academy (2023); New Zealand Model United Nations scholarship (2021, 2022); peer support leader (2023); leader of SADD committee (2023); Duke of Edinburgh gold and silver awards (2023, 2022); president of chess club (2023); president of programming club (2023); CTO and the CFO of young enterprise business (2022).

Role Model: Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck.

Plans for the future: Study mechatronics engineering at the University of Canterbury, before specialising in aerospace engineering and then seeking employment at an aerospace company.


Ryan Williams


With an extremely busy future ahead of him in health, Ryan Williams understands how important it is to maintain his passion for writing, visual art and music.

The 16-year-old South Otago High School pupil takes this inspiration from the life of Dr Hinemoa Elder, a practising psychiatrist who also maintains a career as a writer.

‘‘[This] has inspired me to keep striving towards a future career in both science and the arts, which I find incredibly empowering.’’

Ryan says he has always been curious about science.

This interest has been fuelled by experiences at the London International Youth Science Forum, where he presented his research on local wetlands and swamps.

Experiences like this have led him to want a career with the goal of giving back, particularly through health.

Ultimately, he wants to make a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than him.

‘‘It really comes back down to my main goal of trying to use science as a way for giving back to my community and helping those in need.

‘‘One's health is so important . . . This has led me to medicine.’’

Ryan is still in Year 12 but has already achieved the results needed to go to university.

Ryan will take his academic excellence to the University of Otago, where he will study the health sciences first year programme.

Through that, he says, he aims to gain entrance to the bachelor of medicine programme and his ultimate goal of becoming a practising doctor, perhaps a surgeon.


Achievements: NCEA level 1, 2, 3 with excellence (2021, 2022); credit in ICAS maths (2020, 2021); distinction in Australian Maths Competition (2020); credit in the Australian Maths Competition (2021); Top 1%, New Zealand Physics and Maths Competition (2022); University of Otago Department of Biochemistry Award (2020, 2021); Forest and Bird Award (2020); Ballance Agri Nutrients Special Award (2021); Aurora Award (2021); Crest Awards (2020-23); Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award bronze, silver and gold awards (2021-23); Ministry of Education, Gifted and Talented Learners Award (2021, 2022); attended the London International Youth Science Forum (2023); blues in music, science fair and academic (2021); blues award in music, visual art, New Zealand physics and mathematics competition and academic (2022); New Zealand Modern School of Music Diploma (2023); C.J. Wood Scholarship (2022); R. Jaansen Scholarship 
(2022); NZQA top art exhibitor (2023); school orchestra (2020-23); UN Youth representative (2020-23); Member of the Clutha District Youth Council (2021-23)

Role model: Dr Hinemoa Elder is someone who inspires me because she is able to be a practising psychiatrist and a writer, following her passion for science and the arts in pursuit of the greater good.

Hopes for the future: To pursue a career in medicine, possibly in the field of ophthalmology, while continuing to explore the arts.