Pupils to reveal challenges and hopes

The future of Otago, if not New Zealand, looks to be in good hands if this year's crop of Class Act winners is anything to go by.

The class of 2013 includes pupils on their way to becoming business owners, academics, rising sports stars, police officers, air force pilots, doctors, vets, fashion designers, scientists, environmentalists, lawyers, engineers, accountants, diplomats, musicians, politicians and even journalists.

In Monday's edition of the Otago Daily Times, these young men and women share what they have been up to, what their biggest challenges have been, and where they see themselves in the next 5-10 years.

Among them is Cromwell College pupil Katie Short, who was blind for half of last year.

The 18-year-old has ocular albinism and the resulting rapid, involuntary eye movements meant she could not see for six months.

She could hardly walk, let alone study, but she has soldiered on.

The teenager is ploughing through Level 3 biology, chemistry, English, statistics and photography this year and hopes to attend university next year.

While many of this year's Class Act nominees have been clearing commitments from their lives so they can have more time to get their heads down and study in their final year, Logan Park High School academic prefect Jasmine Seifert-Simpson (17) has been looking for things to add to her schedule.

She has NCEA Level 1 and 2 with excellence under her belt and recently added Level 3 with excellence, all while racking up a host of other academic, sporting and cultural achievements.

Rather than have ''a quiet year'', she has decided to help her fellow pupils with their NCEA Level 3 study by discussing class work and researching academic assignments.

In a similar vein, Otago Girls' High School technology prefect Jisu Lee (17) is a whizz in information technology and robotics, and has contributed significantly to the development of pupils' and teachers' skills in their use by running various IT training programmes.

The outstanding part of Jisu's achievements is that when she arrived from South Korea aged 11, the only English word she knew was ''hello''.

Since then, she has become highly skilled in languages and is one of the school's top scholars.

As well as dealing with the usual stress of schoolwork, Kavanagh College pupil Zoe McBride (17) and Mount Aspiring College pupil Jessica Bailey (17) have recently returned from the Junior World Championships in Lithuania where they represented New Zealand in rowing and kayaking respectively.

And a pupil who has reached the highest levels is Cromwell College head boy David Borrie.

The 17-year-old recently led a three-week expedition to Mt Everest.

These pupils will be among the 57 outstanding teens from 29 Otago secondary schools who will be showcased in the Otago Daily Times on Monday.

They are known as the cream of Otago's secondary school crop, and will each receive Class Act Awards from Prime Minister John Key during a ceremony at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery on September 12.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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