By Otago Daily Times | Posted: Sunday September 4, 2022
Congratulations to Alexander Sun and Darcy Monteath who are our 2022 Class Act winners.
They were presented their awards at a special ceremony with the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Dunedin Art Gallery in September.
See the Otago Daily Times biographies below:
Above all, what Alexander Sun wants is a challenge.
The 16-year-old Logan Park High School pupil takes great pride in his studies, his chess and his music.
When it came to school work Alexander enjoys studying anything, but is drawn towards subjects he finds difficult.
Physics is a particular favourite.
If something fails to test his abilities, he quickly finds his attention waning.
"I want to challenge myself as much as possible."
That attitude has seen him excelling beyond his year group and aceing University of Otago papers at a young age.
He even scored in the 99.9th percentile in the SAT test, a standardised test used for college admissions in the United States.
Despite his success, he has not settled on a career yet and plans to send some time away from academics to pursue his other passions.
Perfectionism is at the root of those other interests as well.
Classical music provides an expressive yet nuanced challenge that is different from his academic studies, which he greatly enjoys.
It was also a love he shares with his family, as he organised a charity concert last year with his older sister and spent time tutoring his younger brother in piano.
He takes great pride in his family and his Chinese background.
Chess is another avenue for perfection.
Every game is different and he adores the thinking process behind it.
Something captivating always happened in a game of chess and there was always room for improvement, he said.
"You can never know everything about chess."
It is the ultimate game for a challenge.
Achievements: SAT 99.9 percentile (2021); Scholarship award, physics, English, chemistry, biology (2021); biology olympiad training camp (2021); UoC maths199 A+ (2021); UoO PHSI221, PHIL222 A+ UoO (2022); junior maths competition top 30 (2021); chess prefect (2022); Otago schools chess championship winning team (2022); Otago U20 chess, 1st (2019) 2nd (2020) Otago debating development squad (2022); Level 2, Level 3 excellence endorsement (2021).
Role model: His older sister Sophie, for being so selfless and having such a strong character to look up to.
Hopes for the future: Spend some time away from school before deciding on a career path.
If there is a performance happening at Logan Park High School, Darcy Monteath wants to be involved.
The 18-year-old head prefect is interested in almost any form of show or creative pursuit, a passion that has enabled her to claim awards both on and off the stage.
She started piano when she was 8 and played for about five years, but spent time away from music until she started at Logan Park High School and wanted to join the school band.
Her music teacher, Mr Dodd, put her on the bass guitar.
She quickly fell in love with the instrument and started practising every day.
"It felt like it was my instrument"
Bass is a key part of jazz and she enjoys being immersed in the music they play.
Her love for music has helped her bands take the runner-up position and a gold award at last year’s Southern Jam, second place in last year’s Showquest and first place in the Dunedin Youth Jazz Festival twice.
She was personally awarded the best bassist award at the festival twice.
She also loves acting and took on the role of Macbeth in last year’s local Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Competition, in which her group won best pupil-directed ensemble and come runner-up for best five-minute piece.
When she was not thinking about the stage, Darcy spent her time writing.
She had always enjoyed writing, but started taking it seriously in year 10.
From there, her passion grew and the success followed.
She was a runner-up in the National Schools Poetry Award competition last year, came first in the 2020 Poetry New Zealand Yearbook competition and third in the Sargeson New Zealand Short Story Competition that same year.
This year she had spent time as one of the four pupils across the country selected for the New Zealand Society of Authors youth mentorship programme.
She shared her love of writing with others and helped host a fortnightly group for young Dunedin writers, where they could share their work, give feedback and feel safe expressing themselves.
She was still not sure what her future would hold, but no matter what she would stay involved with writing and music.
Achievements: Southern Jam big band runner-up (2021); Southern Jam gold award (2021); Dunedin Youth Jazz Festival 1st place jazz band (2020, 2021), best bassist (2020, 2021); 1st place jazz combo (2021); Sheilah Winn Shakespeare best student directed ensemble (2021); Showquest 2nd (2021); NZSA youth mentor programme (2022); National School’s Poetry award finalist (2021); Poetry NZ 1st (2020); Sargeson competition 3rd place (2020); Level 1, 2 excellence (2020, 2021); head prefect (2022).
Role model: Her brother.
Hopes for the future: Still deciding, but wants to stay with music and writing.