Class Act: Mount Aspiring College

Jess Carswell
Jess Carswell
Jess Carswell

Jess Carswell describes herself as very academic, but she also strives for excellence in other areas such as sport and service.

"I am motivated by challenge and the reward when a challenge is overcome."

Jess has her sights set on a career in mechanical and biomedical engineering.

"I am particularly interested in maths and the sciences and how they help people and communities," she said.

The 17-year-old year 13 pupil holds three different leadership positions at Wanaka's Mount Aspiring College — 2021 MAC Senior Student Executive, 2021 Whanau leader at Mount Aspiring College and part of the leadership group for the hockey team.

Jess was top in year 12 academically and second in year 11 academically at Huanui College in Whangarei.

Jess moved to Wanaka and Mount Aspiring College at the start of this year to experience a new place and new activities, in particular outdoor pursuits in her final year of high school.

In 2019 Jess came top in New Zealand in Cambridge IGCSE mathematics and achieved Cambridge IGCSE in six subjects and the following year she achieved Cambridge AS in five subjects.

This year Jess is already aceing a University of Canterbury mathematics course, MATH199, and is at present sitting at an A* grade and so far has all excellence NCEA level 3 credits, (18/18).

Achievements: Cambridge IGCSE in 6 subjects: Mathematics (A* - 98%), Biology (A* - 97%), Physics (A* - 94%), Chemistry (A* - 91%), English (A - 88%), Design and technology (A - 88%). In 2020 she achieved Cambridge AS in 5 subjects: English (D), Mathematics (A - 98%), Physics (A - 93%), Chemistry (A - 90%) and Biology (A - 90%). Completed Duke of Edinburgh Bronze, participating in the 2021 Mount Aspiring College Students in the Community Programme and working towards 30hrs, was Huanui College Rotary interact club member (2019-20) and maths tutor at Huanui College, (2018-20). In sport, at Huanui College Jess was the most promising collegiate girl hockey player (2017-19), represented Northland in age group teams from 2015-21, was a member of the Northland U18 hockey team and the Mount Aspiring college hockey team in 2021. In 2019, Jess was the U15 girls’ National Hockey tournament most valuable player (Northland) and captain of Northland  U15 girls’ hockey team 2019.

Role models: None.

Hopes for the future: Study engineering at the University of Canterbury.

Olive Blyth
Olive Blyth
Olive Blyth

The world is a stage for talented performer Olive Blyth.

Covid-19 permitting, the year 13 Mount Aspiring College pupil hopes to pursue studies in performing arts at Victoria University in Wellington and in London.

Olive’s goal to attend a three-week workshop at the Globe Theatre in London this year had to be put on hold because of lockdown restrictions in the UK.

Olive now hopes to fulfil that dream in June next year, depending on how things develop with the pandemic.

"I am looking at going to Wellington next year to study in arts, predominantly. I am looking at music and theatre, the interplay between those two disciplines ... to explore and create. Next year, I am also heading to London with the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand group ... I had planned to do that this July but obviously it was a no go," Olive said.

Olive developed a love of performance early — "if you were to ask my family, they would always say I loved performing" — and got involved in Broadway-style musical theatre when the Blyth family lived in Auckland.

"I realised the impact the arts can have in communities and individuals, on growth and learning. The arts is a great vehicle for processing what we are going through, especially with the Covid situation we are in," Olive said.

Jazz piano music is Olive’s particular passion, but many genres appeal.

So do many instruments. Olive sings and has played trumpet, flute, bass guitar, violin and timpani, although piano is a main focus.

"The thing I love most about playing jazz is the challenge and being free to improvise ... That definitely has an influence on broader life in general, improvising around things that happen."

Achievements: Head student (2021), Aspiring Writers’ Award for outstanding contribution to writing (2020); highest achiever  NCEA level 2 drama and music, high achiever  L2 English (2020); Academic Blues Award (2020); NCEA level 1 (2019),  level 2 (2020)  with excellence overall (2020); NCEA level 2 music and history  with excellence,  level 2 drama and English  with merit (2020); NCEA level 1 English, mathematics, drama, music, science  with excellence; student choir director/conductor & leader of tenor/bass section (2019, 2020, 2021) Sheilah Winn Shakespeare: Best Student Directed Piece (Otago Regional), direct student entry to National Shakespeare Schools Programme workshop (2020); selected for Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s Young Shakespeare Company (scheduled for 2022); pianist in senior jazz combo (2020, 2021); Best Musicianship and Best Original Composition awards at Otago/Southland Youth Jazz Festival (2020); lead role in Fame as Schlomo/student musical director (2020); composer for Nga Mea Iti extracurricular film, winner  national Showquest film competition (2020);  Cultural Blues Award (2020); Thomson Wright Award for Direction/Backstage (2020); King Family Trophy for Performing Arts (2020); student leader/co-founder of Kahu Youth run SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Acceptance) group outside school (2020); co-creator  staff PD session on gender inclusivity and LGBTQIA+ issues in a class environment (2020); Student leader, founder of Queer Alliance (2021); Service Blues Award (2020); volunteer Upper Clutha Hospice Shop (Students in the Community) (2021); Cultural Committee Member (2020, 2021); student executive committee member.

Role model: No role model

Hopes for future: To explore opportunities in music and theatre in Wellington and London.

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