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Top scholars overcome tough year of lockdowns, online learning

Gisborne duxes ready for life's next chapter.

Four Gisborne students have weathered a tumultuous year of lockdowns and online classes to emerge as their schools' top academic scholar, or dux.

All are off to four different universities for life's next chapter.

Gisborne Girls' High School's Sabine Lapointe will travel south to become a scarfie at Otago University where she will study neuroscience.

This year Sabine has been a keen rower, was on her school's debating team and plays cello and percussion in the high school orchestra.

“It's been a full-on year,” she said.

Somehow she managed to fit in a three-week course at Outward Bound in Anakiwa, at the top of the South Island.

“That was pretty special.”

Matt Cuckow from Lytton High School heads to the capital to study computer science at Victoria University, hoping to get into the tech scene.

“The prospect of the salary is pretty good, but I also like computers,” he said.

Matt has done a few coding projects while at high school, creating games and at the same time playing plenty of video games himself.

Outside the classroom, Matt is involved with Lytton's e-sports club playing Valorant, a first-person hero shooter game similar to Counter-Strike. It's the first year the club has been up and running.

Jack Keepa from Gisborne Boys' High School is off to Waikato University to study business.

“I got hooked on it since studying business studies in Year 11. I feel like it fits who I am. I'm pretty competitive with my sport so I can translate what I do in sport to business and vice versa.”

Jack has been surf lifesaving and swimming, winning gold medals for swimming and setting records around New Zealand while he has been at school.

“It's been a tough year in 2021. Most of my stuff has been cancelled, so I've been able to grind my academic stuff instead.”

Liam Mackay from Campion College is going to study biomedical science at the University of Auckland, with plans to become a doctor or pharmacologist.

“The health issues in Gisborne inspired me,” said Liam.

Liam has been a keen debater at school, football and volleyball player, competing in the latter at the nationals in Auckland where his team came fourth.

The top scholars, or duxes, for 2021 from Gisborne's four main high schools are, from left, Liam Mackay of Campion College, Sabine Lapointe of Gisborne Girls' High, Jack Keepa from Gisborne Boys' High and Lytton High School's Matt Cuckow. Picture by Liam Clayton