ODT Class Act award winners, Jess Carswell and Olive Blyth

ODT Class Act 2021

Two Mount Aspiring College students asre singled out to recieve the Otago Daily Times Class Act Award for 2021.

Jess Carswell

Jess Carswell describes herself as very academic, but she also strives for excellence in other areas such as sport and service.
"I am motivated by challenge and the reward when a challenge is overcome."

Jess has her sights set on a career in mechanical and biomedical engineering.

"I am particularly interested in maths and the sciences and how they help people and communities," she said.

The 17-year-old Year 13 student holds three different leadership positions at Wānaka's Mount Aspiring College — 2021 MAC Senior Student Executive, 2021 Whānau Leader at Mount Aspiring College and part of the leadership group for the hockey team.

Jess was top in Year 12 academically and second in Year 11 academically at Huanui College in Whangarei.

Jess moved to Wānaka and Mount Aspiring College at the start of this year to experience a new place and new activities, in particular Outdoor Pursuits in her final year of high school.

In 2019 Jess came top in New Zealand in Cambridge IGCSE Mathematics and achieved Cambridge IGCSE in six subjects, and the following year she achieved Cambridge AS in five subjects.

This year Jess is already aceing a University of Canterbury Mathematics course, MATH199, is at present sitting at an A* grade and so far has all excellence NCEA Level 3 credits, (18/18).

Hopes for the future: Study engineering at the University of Canterbury.

Olive Blyth

The world is a stage for talented performer Olive Blyth. COVID19 permitting, the Year 13 Mount Aspiring College pupil hopes to pursue studies in performing arts at Victoria University in Wellington and in London.

Olive’s goal to attend a three-week workshop at the Globe Theatre in London this year had to be put on hold because of lockdown restrictions in the UK.

Olive now hopes to fulfil that dream in June next year, depending on how things develop with the pandemic.

"I am looking at going to Wellington next year to study in arts, predominantly. I am looking at music and theatre, the interplay between those two disciplines, to explore and create. Next year, I am also heading to London with the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand group. I had planned to do that this July but obviously it was a no go," Olive said.

Olive developed a love of performance early — "if you were to ask my family, they would always say I loved performing" — and got involved in Broadway-style musical theatre when the Blyth family lived in Auckland. "I realised the impact the arts can have in communities and individuals, on growth and learning. The arts is a great vehicle for processing what we are going through, especially with the Covid situation we are in," Olive said.

Jazz piano music is Olive’s particular passion, but many genres appeal. So do many instruments. Olive sings and has played trumpet, flute, bass guitar, violin and timpani, although piano is a main focus.

"The thing I love most about playing jazz is the challenge and being free to improvise. That definitely has an influence on broader life in general, improvising around things that happen."

Hopes for the future: To explore opportunities in music and theatre in Wellington and London.