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Prime Minister John Key offered these sage words of advice to 55 outstanding pupils from 29 secondary schools during the 2009 Otago Daily Times Class Act awards at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery yesterday.
Mr Key said there were some incredibly talented people in life, but they were not the most successful because they did not "want it enough".
"They don't have that vision to succeed."
He congratulated the 55 Otago secondary school pupils for making the most of opportunities and excelling in a variety of academic, cultural and sporting fields.
He also acknowledged the "love, guidance and support" of their families, friends and mentors, because he believed that was what had given them the inspiration they needed to become Class Act award winners.
"This is probably the first of many awards you are going to receive in your lifetime.
You are obviously high achievers."
Otago Daily Times editor Murray Kirkness also praised the recipients of the 10th Class Act awards, describing them as "the cream of Otago's secondary school elite in 2009".
They were nominated by their schools on the basis of their achievements to date and their potential for success in the future, he said.
The only criterion the newspaper gave the schools was excellence.
Academic, sporting, social, artistic or cultural excellence, leadership qualities, or a combination of those was the standard by which pupils were nominated.
The 2009 award winners now joined the ranks of the 555 other Otago school pupils who had won Class Act awards since they were established in 2000.
Mr Kirkness also offered some simple words of advice.
"Be humble about your achievements, but also be proud, and continue to aim high. As I read recently, `Why strive for mediocrity? There's too much competition'."
Kings High School pupil Lima Manu was humbled by the occasion.
"I felt pretty privileged and proud to be a part of this. There are some amazing achievers here across a whole range of things.
"It's nice to be recognised for all my hard work, by no less than John Key."
Waitaki Girls High School pupil Jane McCulloch was impressed with Mr Key's speech because it had "good stories we could all relate to".
"I thought what he spoke about was true."
Columba College pupil Jess Todd was also inspired by the speech.
"He talked about himself, and it was good to see he was actually human. He showed that anything was possible if you put your mind to it."
Seven years ago, the Otago Daily Times Class Act recipients of 2002 were seen as potential leaders.
So where are they now? We have tracked down all 57 and found they are still achieving in a variety of areas.
The Class of 2002 includes business owners, academics and rising sports stars.
Most are now in their mid-20s and in the workforce.
Some are still studying, specialising in sectors as diverse as costume construction and volcanoes.
Several are on their OEs, and many more plan to work offshore in the future.
In tomorrow's edition of the Otago Daily Times, these young men and women share what they have been up to, their biggest challenges, and what effect the recession has had on their plans.