Three recent graduates have achieved New Zealand Scholarship recognition in the arts, putting them among the top 3 per cent of students studying each subject. Peter Rogers earned a Scholarship in Drama and Callum Hammond earned a Scholarship in English. Hannah Cullen achieved Outstanding Scholarship in Drama, an honour awarded to only 0.3 per cent of Year 13 students studying the subject.
Scholarship exams are famously rigorous, requiring candidates to quickly analyse and respond to complex challenges.
The students’ success reflects not only exceptional talent but also a culture in which students challenge each other in a positive way.
“The culture they create in their classroom leads them to push further — they’re all striving for excellence,” said drama teacher Krissy Walton. “There’s a drive for perfection in the arts, drama and music. The act of rehearsal day after day is very powerful. It’s about perseverance.”
Success in arts equips students with life skills that transcend any one subject, explained arts co-ordinator Victoria Cullen.
Students “are able to look you in the eye with confidence,” she said. “They’re used to being in vulnerable positions and succeeding.” Ms Cullen recalled a former student whose drama experience gave him an edge in medical school interviews. In any field, she said, “you want people who are going to be able to communicate and relate to people.”
These skills are in part about experience performing, writing and studying; they are also about the empathy that develops from deeply considering another’s perspective through drama or literature.
“Humanity is about connections” and the ability to empathize is becoming even more valuable in an increasingly digital world, said Ms Walton.
Congratulations to Hannah, Peter and Callum on this exceptional achievement and the perseverance that made it possible. Kudos as well to their remarkable teachers and peers whose support helped them achieve at this level!