Bert is top stu­dent

Year 12 stu­dent is 2019 Dux Lit­ter­arum

Te Awamutu Courier - - Front Page - BY DEAN TAY­LOR

To say Bert Downs is a nice young man is an un­der­state­ment. On Fri­day he was named Te Awa­mutu Col­lege 2019 Dux Lit­ter­arum — the school’s top aca­demic stu­dent.

Af­ter the awards I heard him tell friends he felt a bit sorry for Ni­rav Pa­tel who was named Prox­ime Ac­ces­sit.

Bert’s logic was that Ni­rav was Year 13, whereas he (Bert) was only Year 12.

His friends wisely re­minded Bert he had taken six Level 3 NCEA sub­jects — and topped five of them.

Bert was ear­lier awarded top of sub­ject for Level 3 physics, ac­count­ing, elec­tron­ics, dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and maths. He was top of his class for his sixth sub­ject chem­istry, beaten to top of sub­ject by Ni­rav who was in the other chem­istry class.

Dux Lit­ter­arum was spon­sored by Canon and in­cluded a $3000 cash award. He also re­ceived the Univer­sity of Waikato Ko Te Tan­gata (Waikato Schools) Schol­ar­ship ($5000) and a Spe­cial Award for Out­stand­ing Suc­cess in a Na­tional Com­pe­ti­tion — The Skills Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Brightspar­ks.

His aca­demic ac­cel­er­a­tion started when he took Level 1 maths in Year 10, then Level 2 maths and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy in Year 11 along­side his other Level 1 sub­jects.

Last year he re­ceived the Bouma Tro­phy for Aca­demic Ex­cel­lence as the top Year 11 stu­dent.

This year he skipped all re­main­ing Level 2 sub­jects for all Level 3.

He says he thought he would be in the run­ning for Dux but didn’t want to get his hopes up be­cause he was a Year 12 stu­dent and wasn’t sure what the rules were.

Bert also plays trom­bone and is a mem­ber of Se­nior Band and has played for Jazz Band and is a mem­ber of the mag­a­zine com­mit­tee.

But aca­demics, es­pe­cially elec­tron­ics, is his pas­sion.

He says he en­joys learn­ing, en­joys challenges and likes to suc­ceed.

Bert en­joys projects that chal­lenge his think­ing and doesn’t mind if he has to spend ex­tra time prob­lem solv­ing to come up with a new so­lu­tion.

Th­ese are all at­tributes that will hold him in good stead as he leaves high school fol­low­ing his ex­ams and starts his soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing de­gree at Waikato Univer­sity.

Bert isn’t sure what this will lead to, but hopes it will open the door and give him plenty of op­tions for a ca­reer in tech­nol­ogy or com­put­ing.

Te Awa­mutu Col­lege prin­ci­pal Tony Mem­bery’s 2018 Se­nior Prize­giv­ing speech was re­mem­bered for ‘get­ting po­lit­i­cal’ over the is­sue of the teacher short­age cri­sis.

In 2019 he un­apolo­get­i­cally con­tin­ued the theme.

Tony said the cri­sis had not gone away.

“I am in the midst of re­cruit­ing teach­ers for 2020, com­pet­ing with the other prin­ci­pals and sift­ing through the New Zealand — based ap­pli­cants and the many overseas-based ap­pli­cants,” he said.

“The ma­jor­ity of overseas ap­pli­cants I do not deem to be suit­able for teach­ing teenagers in a state co-ed­u­ca­tional sec­ondary school in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“If the coali­tion Gov­ern­ment thought there would be a mass re­turn of New Zealand trained teach­ers from their OE — then they got it very wrong,” said Tony.

And he said he knew of one Te Awa­mutu Col­lege Year 13 stu­dent go­ing into teacher train­ing next year.

Tony said the is­sue was not just in New Zealand — but an in­ter­na­tional prob­lem.

He said the coali­tion Gov­ern­ment has con­ducted count­less re­views and is at­tempt­ing to syn­the­sise their over­all ob­jec­tives and prin­ci­ples in a state­ment of Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Learn­ing Pri­or­i­ties.

He praised some ini­tia­tives, such as the re­moval of NCEA fees which was wel­comed by teach­ers and par­ents/ care­givers alike.

“Thou­sands of stu­dents had been de­prived of re­ceiv­ing the ef­forts of their hard work be­cause of money and pa­per­work,” he said.

It is part of the NCEA Change Pack­age an­nounced by Min­ster of Ed­u­ca­tion Chris Hip­kins, af­ter a ro­bust and pretty stormy “jour­ney”.

Tony said he had per­son­ally spo­ken to the minister about some of the changes be­cause of his con­cerns at the ero­sion of op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to gain qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

He also ex­pressed con­cerns about the level of con­trol Gov­ern­ment was talking of tak­ing back from schools, while say­ing the teacher is­sue is still at the fore­front.

Tony thanked the board of trus­tees for their ded­i­ca­tion, skills and pas­sion for Te Awa­mutu Col­lege.

He also thanked his staff, say­ing they had col­lec­tively strived for:

● rais­ing stu­dent achieve­ment;

● en­cour­ag­ing and mon­i­tor­ing ex­cel­lent at­ten­dance;

● pro­vid­ing a huge ar­ray of sport­ing, cul­tural, arts, ser­vice and lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties;

● pro­vid­ing the best re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties we can;

● cre­at­ing learn­ing suc­cess for each of our stu­dents in a safe, in­clu­sive and car­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

He paid spe­cial trib­ute to two staff — Cath Parr (34 years) and Bruce Tay­lor (46 years) — for their ex­tra­or­di­nary, loyal and ded­i­cated ser­vice to the school.

“Count­less stu­dents and col­leagues have ben­e­fited from their knowl­edge, skills, pas­sion and kind­ness.

“To all stu­dents who re­ceive cer­tifi­cates and awards to­day, be proud of your ac­com­plish­ments. You have ex­celled,” he said.

“To all stu­dents sit­ting ex­ams, give them your best.”

And he said some needed to ‘go teach­ing’ as a ca­reer.

Photo / Dean Tay­lor

Te Awa­mutu Col­lege 2019 Dux Lit­ter­arum Bert Downs.

Pho­tos / Dean Tay­lor

Prin­ci­pal Tony Mem­bery re­it­er­ated last year’s mes­sage about a teach­ing cri­sis.

Kauma¯tua Joe Mau­ri­o­hooho per­formed the wel­come powhiri and karakia.

BOT chair­man Craig Yarnd­ley praised his board, se­nior man­age­ment and staff, par­ents and care­givers and stu­dents for a suc­cess­ful year.

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