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That a large group of West Otago "country kids" earned gold Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Awards showed it was within reach of any pupil if they worked hard, Blue Mountain College awards co-ordinator Vicki Crawford says.
Ten of the 11 Blue Mountain College pupils and former pupils who earned the award this year attended the Dunedin ceremony at John McGlashan College on Saturday, at which Governor-General Lieutenant-general Sir Jerry Mateparae presented the awards.
Mrs Crawford said 70% of eligible pupils at the school of 210 were involved in the programme.
The school had a history of high participation, and in a previous year had had 12 attain the gold award. Those who achieved inspired younger pupils, which fostered the strong participation rate.
The Blue Mountain contingent was the biggest single school group.
Recipients included former pupils because the cut-off age for completion is 25.
The awards were accessible to all parents and their children, because although the range of activities included overseas travel, at the award's core was volunteering, and there were plenty of opportunities locally.
Among the Blue Mountain pupils' stated highlights were: tramping in Fiordland, sailing on the Spirit of New Zealand, completing Outward Bound, volunteering in children's activities, coaching sports teams.
Other recipients, Otago: Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Awards (gold): Cromwell College, Rebecca Scully, Elle Tredinnick; Menzies College, Benjamin Dodds, Lisa Dyer; Mount Aspiring College, Abigael Ayre, Andrew Hamilton, Guy Wilson; South Otago High School, Reagan Martin; Columba College, Charlotte O'Leary; John McGlashan College, Patrick Beamish, Josua Chignell, Simon Craig, Peter Kane, Benjamin Lorimer; Otago Girls' High School, Anya Matravers; St Hilda's Collegiate School, Michelle Hale, Sarah McLaren, Hazel Urquhart.