Class Act 2021

By Kristan Mouat | Posted: Wednesday September 29, 2021

Congratulations to Paxton Hall and Cindy Chou, our Otago Daily Times Class Act award winners for 2021.

Both students have consistently excelled in a wide range of areas and were featured in the Otago Daily Times in September with detailed profiles of their impressive and significant  achievements.

Cindy and Paxton have been awarded University of Otago Leaders of Tomorrow scholarships and we will follow their successes with interest.  

See their detailed profiles below:

Paxton Hall

The love of a challenge and a competitive mindset is what has pushed Paxton Hall (17) to be a high achiever in all areas of his life.

Throughout his time at Logan Park High School he has become head of Clayton House (2021), received Blues awards for orchestra, jazz band, chamber music and chess (2020) and acted as music and student council prefect (2021).

When Paxton was younger he was given the opportunity to regularly interact with older pupils, which pushed him intellectually.

It was here he found his ability and love for complex mathematics.

"I’ve always loved brain teasers and logic puzzles."

Mathematics was a new challenge for him to tackle that scratched that puzzle itch.

He finds the process of finding patterns satisfying and enjoys the lack of subjectivity in maths.

Paxton plays both the piano and the trumpet, two instruments which each present different challenges.

He began playing the piano 10 years ago, at the suggestion of his parents, and discovered a love for music.

He discovered the trumpet when he went to join the school jazz band, but found they already had a pianist.

After trying again the next year he decided he would learn whatever instrument they did need, which was the trumpet.

The trumpet proved a new and exciting challenge for Paxton and he found he really enjoyed it.

"The theory behind it is the same, but everything else is different."

He is still uncertain what he wants to study next year when he goes to the University of Otago, but he has made sure to expand his skills out to a variety of subjects to ensure he has options.

Paxton greatly appreciates how his parents pushed him to try as many things as possible when he was younger.

As long as he gave new things a shot his parents were happy to let him decide what he wanted to pursue.

He would not have discovered what he was best at without their guidance.

Achievements: Music prefect (2021); student council prefect (2021); head of Clayton House (2021); NCEA level 1, 2 with excellence (2019-20). Selection for NZ Biology and Chemistry Olympiad training camps (2021); 99th percentile SAT Australian Maths Competition (2020); 1st Otago/Southland team chess championship (2020); jazz combo senior award (2020); orchestra, jazz band, chamber music, chess Blues (2020); 1st nationally ICAS Writing (2019); NZQA Calculus Scholarship (2019-20).

Role model: Albert Einstein, because he was dedicated to following an independent path during his education.

Hopes for the future: To study at the University of Otago and continue with his music.

Cindy Chou

Talent is good, but Cindy Chou (17) thinks dedication and a consistent schedule are worth far more.

At age 5 she picked up the violin and has practised almost every day since, which has led her to becoming a member of the Dunedin Youth Orchestra (2021), the school orchestra concertmaster (2021), and a finalist in the New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) district Chamber Music Competition (2020).

Alongside the violin, Cindy is known for her skills on the piano.

She finds it hard to pick a favourite between the two instruments, because they both have unique aspects which she enjoys.

She does admit her violin skills are better, however.

She practises the instrument daily and is always seeking to improve her skills.

Cindy enjoys performing ballet, which she also started when she was young.

It has been a constant hobby throughout her life and she sees it as a great form of exercise.

There is no perfect way to approach ballet and the only way to get better is to work hard.

"You can’t learn it systematically, you have to just get out and do it."

It is important to pair that hard work with consistency and to actively be aware of where you are with your goals.

When she was younger she did not believe she had what it took to be a part of Class Act, but now she realises what you can achieve with dedication.

"It seemed unattainable at first, but the work you do adds up over the years."

Although she works hard, Cindy always finds time to relax and have fun.

The amount of free time she has is limited, but that just makes it more meaningful.

She is not sure which university she plans to study at, but she does know what she wants to study.

Law and commerce are the fundamental building blocks of society, and she believes it is important to learn how the subjects work.

"They’re sectors that underpin our everyday lives."

She hopes to contribute to those sectors herself one day.

Achievements: Music prefect (2021); formal prefect (2021); Showquest choreographer (2021); LPHS orchestra concertmaster (2021); Dunedin Youth Orchestra (2019 21); DYO second violin section principal (2020-21); NZQA biology scholarship (2021); biology cup (2020); senior orchestra prize (2020); English prize (2020); NZCT Chamber Music Competition finalist (2019-20); NCEA level 1, 2 with excellence (2019-20).

Role models: Her parents.

Hopes for the future: To study law and commerce at university.

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