Scholarship and Academic Excellence Awards 2021

On Wednesday we welcomed back our 2021 alumni who earned Excellence endorsements in Level Three and/or Scholarship Awards. We held a celebratory assembly with our Year 10 and Year 13 as the audience.   It was wonderful to welcome back these students and their whānau to celebrate their success and to hear what they are up to now.   James Hargest has a proud reputation of academic success at the highest levels nationally. This success is no fluke and does not occur by chance. It is a result of a combination of factors; a high quality learning environment, dedicated and highly skilled teachers, individual students who set high standards for themselves, work incredibly hard, have a passion for learning and have a supportive home environment.
In a country that is known for tall poppy syndrome and a society that at times feels like it is promoting mediocrity, it is important that we continue the Hargest traditions of ceremonies such as this where we recognise our highest achievers. We must also continue to set the bar high and have high expectations for all of our students in all that they do. The students who were recognised had all given fantastic service to our school, in academic, sporting, cultural and service firelds.  The huge array of activities they are involved with is testament to their drive and innate desire to succeed.
Gemma McAllister spoke on behalf of the class of 2021 and her message about being brave enough to follow your passion resonated with the audience.  Believing in yourself and being comfortable with not having all of the answers is a powerful idea many of our Year 13’s needed to hear right now.  We thank Gemma for her time and her thoughtful message.
We would like to offer our congratulations to all of our recipients. You are a fine example of our values in action, fine role models and hopefully a source of inspiration for our audience.
Excerpt from Gemma’s speech
As a senior student, I remember being constantly asked by those around me what I wanted to do in life. More often than not I would shrug my shoulders in response while they reminded me that I still had plenty of time to decide. Fast forward to Year 13 when my time appeared to have run out and I suddenly felt as though I had to choose my entire life ahead of me. It was in this chaotic period that it became apparent just how narrow our perspective of success is.
This past semester my English professor taught us about the dangers of the single story in literature. She informed us of the experience of author Chimamanda Ngozi. Chimamanda is a middle-class Nigerian woman who grew up reading English and American literature which focused purely upon the beautiful, white heroine who spoke only of love. Her writing began to reflect these same conventions, never mind that these concepts were foreign to her own genuine experiences. Growing up with these single stories she felt obligated to copy the masses for her work to be successful, however, this led her to feel as though her work was never entirely her own, and therefore she was never entirely satisfied.
This lesson has stuck with me because it demonstrates how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a single story, particularly as young adults. I felt as though this lesson perfectly reflected the chaotic pressure I felt as a Year 13. Our material society focuses immensely on external success which is measured through one’s financial status and professional growth. However, the problem is that external success is extremely fragile and easy to become caught up in if you don’t have internal success backing it up. Internal success is the feeling of achievement and wholeness derived from the completion of a task or fulfillment of desire. We have more control over our internal success than our external success as it lies within the power of our choice, the power of our thoughts, and our mindset. Internal success teaches us to step away from the one path that we believe defines success and instead learn to celebrate our individuality as we realize one size does not fit all. Instead of fixating upon achieving success in our lifetime we should instead focus on the significant skills such as grit, resilience, and passion, all of which make up a successful person. For me, success wasn’t gaining endorsements and going to university. For me, it was having the courage and determination within myself to pursue what I love.
I can now say that I am the first in my family to attend university where I have achieved pleasing results so far and shall soon begin an internship in which I can further pursue the things I love.
Success is not a single story. There are numerous different forms of success, it simply depends upon your mindset.