Past pupils amid top scholars

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Top tier . .  Former John McGlashan College pupils Patrick Zhang (17, left) and Harrison Biggs (18) were among the top scholars in the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Two former John McGlashan College pupils are among New Zealand’s top secondary school scholars.

Patrick Zhang (17) and Harrison Biggs (18) graduated from the two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma programme in November.

It is a prestigious, internationally-recognised secondary school qualification which has a broad holistic approach and global perspective.

They did it instead of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).

Patrick, the school’s 2019 Dux, gained 42 points, which put him in the top 5% of graduates and Harrison, the proxime accessit (runner-up), scored 40 points to place within the top 10%.

Patrick said pupils could opt into the IB programme and he chose to do it because it covered “quite a bit of depth and breadth within the subjects”.

Each pupil did six subjects, including a language, and had about 18 exams at the end of the two years.

“It was hard at the start of year 12, especially the first couple of terms, but towards the end . . . you understand how you learn,” he said.

What worked for him may not work for someone else, he said.

“That was definitely part of the experience.”

Harrison said the programme was “above and beyond” the normal workload at school, and the pupils had to be self-motivated.

“There’s not a whole lot of people looking over your shoulder,” he said.

But that prepared them well for university.

Both were pleased with their results, especially since they had to make sacrifices along the way.

Earlier this month, they were presented with top-scholar awards at a ceremony at Parliament House, in Wellington.

They enjoyed talking about their experience with the programme’s other top scholars.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Harrison said.

“Because of the difficulty of the course, it kind of bonds you.”

Both are enrolled at the University of Otago double major in finance and economics, and Patrick, for the time being, is taking maths and economics papers.