Top Cambridge Students Awarded
Huanui College is pleased to share the news that two of our students have received Top in New Zealand and High Achievement Awards for their results in the June and November 2018 exams. Congratulations to:
Letty Hamlet who received Top in New Zealand for A Level Classical Studies and High Achievement in AS Level Business.
Campbell Mortimer received High Achievement in IGCSE Agriculture.
Top in New Zealand is the learner who has achieved the highest standard mark in New Zealand in an individual subject.
High Achievement is the learner who has achieved a very high standard mark in New Zealand in an individual subject.
Both Letty and Campbell received their awards at recent Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards Ceremony later in February. Letty was invited to speak at this event and gave a tremendous speech on how Cambridge has helped with her future career plans and helping to develop her as a whole person. We felt her speech was worth sharing....
'Kia Ora whakamihi … I hope you have all enjoyed tonight. Don’t worry, I have no intention of using 20 minutes for this speech – it’s the end of the night and, if I wasn’t speaking, I would probably have been trying to sneak away early so, I will endeavour to make a speech that is worth sticking around for.
We are so lucky to have taken exams - it means we have had a chance at secondary education. Millions of children in the world today cannot say the same. There are, in fact, 61 million school-aged children not in school today; the reasons for this range from poverty and gender inequality, to war. I am sure for many in this room we are expected to go from primary to high school, to university. In Niger, a child is expected to spend less than six years at school. I am especially grateful and humbled to be a woman who has had the chance at education. I and all the other women in the room tonight have had a chance to be educated without fear. In some nations, for women, education means risking your freedom or, even your life. We should all be thankful and aware. So, the next time we are thinking that we are pleased there is no more homework, I can’t finish this essay or, I really don’t feel like doing that maths test, put things into perspective because it is also an immense privilege that should never be taken for granted.
I am from a small region in Northland where the local primary school has a bell that is rung for when dolphins come into the bay so everyone can run down to the beach for a glance - or a swim. Huanui College is a high school where sometimes the chickens escape or, Jelly Bean the lamb and, Penelope the pig trot past the study room. I got to grow up in this kind of environment as well as have the privilege of doing Cambridge international. I can take pride in knowing my As and A* at A level from this small pocket of the world are worth just as much as the grades from the top schools in Auckland, London, Singapore or anywhere else.
What I love about Cambridge is that it doesn’t discriminate. No matter where you are from, your cultural background, your gender, whether you like peanut butter and jam on your toast … it gives students an equal chance to receive an incredible education. With the world being so diverse it’s amazing Cambridge International can suit and benefit so many people. Cambridge reaches over one million students in 160 different countries - it’s something we all share and it connects us as students to one another. We are talking about a global community of young minds working toward a common goal. Academic excellence, getting so many people behind a positive idea with beneficial outcomes, is something governments and world organisations have been trying to do for years. Maybe they should take a leaf out of Cambridge Internationals book.
Cambridge also isn’t just about the grades you get at the end of Year 13. For many of us, Cambridge will not be the end of our formal education but the values we have been taught will always remain. Cambridge is hard. I’m sure we’ve all had a moment where we have thought, “Wow, this is really hard”. But, we have also shown grit and worked through that - it teaches us to deal with stress, not run away from it. I set out to re-sit one of my AS subjects in June. I had a lot of fears going into that exam; what if I get the same mark? What if I get a worse mark?! Are people going to think I’m dumb because I’m taking a re-sit? I realised all I was thinking about were other people’s perceptions of me. I had to put that aside and look at it for what it was … a second chance. Life doesn’t give many of those … luckily for me, Cambridge International does. I had to use this chance to prove I was better than the C I had gotten. I ended up with an A so it paid off. If you don’t get it perfect the first time, don’t worry as it doesn’t define you; don’t let fear hold you back. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
In one respect, every student in this room is the same. We all have our A’s and A*s however, what we all decide to do with them will be different. One of us might be the next big oil tycoon or environmentalist. The routes we take will depend not on the academic side of our education but on the moral compass that we developed with our character through our school and home life. I have volunteered at North Haven Hospice’s In-Patient Unit for four years. The first day I went I had all these ideas of what I thought it would be like … sad … scary. My Dad, who had similar thoughts, was surprised to see I was grinning so much when he picked me up at the end of the day. All I felt was an immense joy at seeing how the things I did for the patients there made them happier. Not every reward in life will come as a grade, or a pay cheque, or a promotion; some of our greatest senses of achievement will be in the positive ways we can affect others.
Tolerance, gratitude and compassion - I would like to think at least two of those are pretty self-explanatory but, tolerance, maybe not? For some reason, tolerance these days has a negative connotation. When we tolerate someone, we put up with them. I know all about putting up with people - I am number three of four siblings! By definition, it is actually a willingness to understand the existence of opinions or behaviour of others, even if you don’t agree with them. Make a willing effort to understand things from their point of view - imagine how many conflicts could have been avoided if people had been compassionate to others. If, instead of continually wanting more resources, we had learnt to be grateful for what we had and used them more effectively and think of the lives saved if we had simply accepted others differences, whether it be their religion, skin colour or opinion.
Studying Cambridge International History allowed me to examine where mankind have had our greatest moments and failures. My conclusion is, all one has to do is look at the morals behind these decision to predict the outcome. Maybe not every invention is a good idea - the destruction caused is not worth the gains. When Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, he was so shocked at the violent use to which his discovery was applied, that he left the Nobel Prize as a way to guide people to produce what would most benefit mankind. I have no doubt we here tonight have the abilities to be at the forefront of scientific discoveries or theoretical developments. Will you be asking the hard questions? Where do your morals lie? I am grateful for the incredible education Cambridge has allowed me to have but also thankful for my parents and the school space I have grown up in that has encouraged me to focus on being tolerant, being compassionate, being grateful and being aware of the environment.
Our biggest challenge lies not in what we can do but what we should do. What will be the far reaching consequences of the decisions we make today? Who is guiding us in these decisions?
Thank you to all of the teachers sitting here tonight and the parents who have made this education possible. Without you, we students would not be here tonight. Mum, you were also my classics teacher to the class of one and I am so grateful for the passion you have for this subject. It inspired me to fall in love with it too. Mr Coombe, my former Principal who has helped me in following my dream of going to one of the top universities in the United Kingdom and the world to study something that never fails to fascinate me … History. Dad, you have pushed and inspired me more than anyone. It is your examples of incredible generosity and drive that have shaped me into who I am today.
I would like to end with a quote from Socrates, as I am honoured here tonight as a classicist: “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” That is the brilliance of Cambridge International, it kindles the flame of knowledge that I know will enlighten the rest of our lives. Thank you'. Letty Hamlet