Academic Achievement

Fred Free and Year 10 Speech winners

The winner of this year's Free Free Reading Aloud Award is Theresa Boyd (left), whose public speaking skills stood out in her rendition of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling.

The annual Fred Free competition holds a special place in MAGS history - it dates back to 1925 and is named after a talented young speaker who died during Year 10 in a climbing accident at Karekare beach. Fred's father, Mr WRH Free, made a donation to the school and asked that a prize be given in his son's name to the winner of an annual reading aloud competition among Year 10 students. That request has been honoured ever since.

Second place in this year's event, held in the English Department on Tuesday, 25 November, was Akshara Gnanendra, who read The Chimney Sweep by William Blake. She and Theresa are pictured with Assistant Head of English Ms Elliot Lavey.

The judges were Head of English Ms Aubrey Mason and English teacher Ms Marian Moore. They said that the poems the students chose to read aloud were important to enable the competitors to play to their strengths. "The winners were able to bring the poems to life, to become the voice of the poem," said Ms Mason.

The finals of the Year 10 Speech Competition are held in conjunction with the Fred Free Award. This year's winner was Isobel Welsford-Ackroyd (right), who spoke about Career Choice Pressure. Second place went to Alosi Bloomfield for a speech about Procrastination, and Heremilla Mauava was awarded third place for his speech about Underage Drinking. They are pictured with English teacher Ms Sarah Drew.

Ms Mason said the winning speakers had the ability to draw in the audience and hold their attention. "They didn’t do this through grand gestures or heavy rhetoric. The winning speakers had ‘believability’. It was clear they were speaking with their own voice ... I felt like I was part of a conversation, rather than a lecture."

Paula Calver selected for Government science teaching programme

Science teacher Ms Paula Calver and Mount Albert Grammar School have been selected to take part in the Science Teaching Leadership Programme in 2015.

An initiative run by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and The Royal Society of New Zealand, the programme is part of the Government's national strategic plan for science in society. It will involve 37 science teachers from schools all over New Zealand. Ms Calver says MAGS was selected because the school has already made progress in the implementing the philosophy of the new science curriculum, which is as much about applying scientific thinking and processes as it is content.

The aim of the programme is threefold - to increase the number of students going into science-related fields, to increase scientific understanding among all students even if they are not continuing with science, and to bring more community opportunities for science into schools.

Ms Calver will spend Terms 1 and 2 next year working with professional scientists from The Royal Society to learn more about the nature of their work and the skills their jobs require. She will also visit Wellington to work with others involved in the programme, before returning to MAGS in Term 3 to transfer what she has learned to the Science Department, and into the classroom. Part of this will be surveying the school community to find out what science issues they are concerned about, so they can be incorporated into students' education.

"Science affects people in different ways every day," says Ms Calver, "Whether it's worry about the ebola virus, to council weed spraying, to climate change. This programme aims to increase scientific literacy throughout society as we move into a future where greater understanding is needed, and more and more jobs will be available."

Top science marks in international exam

Junior students Theresa Boyd and Henry An earned High Distinction Awards in this year's ICAS science test - placing them in the top 1% of more than one million participants from more than 20 countries.

ICAS (International Competitions and Assessments for Schools) are independent skills-based assessments with a competition element.

They are sat under exam conditions at each participating school.

Henry, Y9, pictured with Theresa, Y10 and Headmaster Mr Dale Burden, also gained the Principal's Award for the highest score of all the MAGS students who competed.

Top results:

Y9 : High Distinction
Henry An – and Principal’s Award for highest score

Y9: Distinction
Max Bassett
Jonathan De Pledge
Gary He
Anvilly Huang
Rory Mclean
Seamus Stalker

Y10: High Distinction
Theresa Boyd

Y10 Distinction
Jonathan Bidmead
Gavriel Arden I Merlin Budvietas
Aidan Cullen
Tom Guernier
Luke Ji
Lucas Peterson
Ben Spring
Daniel Watson
Merry Wu

Robotics team wins Design Award

A team of MAGS Robotics students won the Design Award at a Robotics Challenge event for Auckland schools.

Thirty five teams took part in the competition at Massey University's Albany campus on Saturday, 16 August. The robots had to be able to lift cubes, transport them across a space and stack them on poles at the other end. The designers of the MAGS robot were Harry Duncan (left), Alex Boyd and Parie Malhotra.

Teacher in charge Ms Clare Baldock says the students have been working on their robot since the start of Term 2. They are taking part in a series of events called the VEX Robotics Auckland Ladder Challenge, accumulating points with the aim of qualifying for the National Championships next February. Ms Baldock says the MAGS team is confident of reaching Nationals, where they hope to gain a spot at the World Robotics Championships in America next year.

The Challenge series is run by the non-profit organisation Kiwibots New Zealand, and is aimed at inspiring a passion for science and technology.

A Massey University Lecturer in the School of Advanced Engineering and Technology, Dr Frazer Noble, is part of a team who regularly mentor the high school pupils participating in the VEX Robotics competitions.

“It was great to see so many teams (at the latest Challenge), honing their skills and working on their robots. These kids have the potential to be our next wave of engineers, and they’re also developing essential skills like teamwork, leadership and problem solving. It’s a chance to have great fun while they’re learning.”

For more information on VEX Robotics, visit

Geography team second in Auckland

A MAGS Year 11 Geography Quiz team came second in the Auckland round of the annual national Maatangi Whenua Geography Quiz held at St Cuthbert's College on Monday, 16 June.

Samuel Darin (pictured left), Angela Liu and Thomas Butler scored 117 points, our highest ever score, getting top marks in 'Geography in the News' and the only perfect score in 'Birdseye View'. Unfortunately their mark was not quite high enough to beat a strong team from Pakuranga College. Auckland Grammar was six points behind us in third place.

Well done also to the MAGS 2 team of Jasmine Cooling, Jessica Middelberg and Connor Bougen, who finished a creditable sixth place.

Luke Butler wins NZ Chinese language competition

Year 13 prefect Luke Butler has won a six-month study scholarship to China after coming top in the New Zealand Chinese Bridge Competition.

Luke won the Auckland section of the competition last term, and on Saturday, May 17, flew to Wellington with his teacher, Ms Eva Liu, to compete against 15 other national finalists.

Luke gave a speech in Chinese, explaining his Chinese 'name' which Ms Liu had given him which was representative of his interests and background, the Chinese Cultural Activity Group he helped set up this year, the trip to China he won last year when he came second in the national competition, and reference to a Chinese legend about the Great Wall.

Ms Liu says Luke's win was even more significant in that he was up against competitors who had lived in China.

"Luke had to make his speech harder than anything he has done so far in order to be competitive, and including some very difficult phrases," says Ms Liu.

Ms Liu was awarded the prize for Best Coach - the third time in five years that she has received the award for having the winning student. William Walker won the competition in 2010, and David Tuipulotu in 2012.

Luke will travel to China later this year to compete against Chinese language students from around the world in the International Chinese Bridge Competition.

For his New Zealand win, he was awarded a six-month study scholarship at a Chinese university of his choice, all expenses paid. He can take up the scholarship any time over the next two years. He is planning to study Commerce at Auckland University from next year, and says he will be able to blend his papers with those he will study in China. He hopes to eventually work for a Chinese company in New Zealand, or a New Zealand company in China.

"I'm very grateful for this opportunity to study in China - it will be a great addition to my CV," says Luke.

Luke and Ms Liu thanked language teaching assistant Miss Yuting Wang, who helped Luke while Ms Liu was away.

"In the end Luke's success has come down to a lot of hard work by him," says Ms Liu. "He should feel very proud."

NCEA results best ever

Overall the academic progress for the school continues to be what The Education Review Office described as " outstanding". Our NCEA results of 2013 were our best to date, and at Scholarship level the school remains in the top 7 schools in New Zealand for the second year in a row.

While our results at Levels 1, 2 and 3 continue to improve and are well beyond the national averages for similar types of schools, there will always be room for improvement.  

The tables below show the extent to which our students' qualifications are meeting very high levels of endorsement at merit and excellence level. MAGS is a decile 7 school (deciles refer to the socio-economic status of the school community), but at Level 1 we are in excess of decile 10 averages, at Level 2 we are well in excess of averages for decile 8 schools, and at Level 3 we are well in excess of decile 9 averages.  We can all be very proud of these results but also acknowledge that although there has been huge improvement over recent years, we are not yet at 100 percent.

Our Level 1 results continue to improve at a steady rate. While we can see from the endorsement graph at left that our results are in excess of averages for decile 10 schools, there remains a group in the cohort that take a little longer to get their Level 1. By the end of Year 12, 91% of our students have Level 2. This is 6% above the Government target of 85% to be achieved by 2017. It is pleasing to see such great progress and achievement that is well above schools that have higher deciles (socio- economic status).

The Level 2 results continue to track upwards and 2013 was another great year of progress. It is also pleasing to see the ongoing success of our students at merit and excellence level. 

The Level 3 results are very pleasing with ongoing improvement in terms of pass rates and the quality of those pass rates, ie, merit and excellence endorsements.

Scholarship success 2013

Mount Albert Grammar School students have again achieved with outstanding success in the 2013 New Zealand Scholarship awards. These examinations represent the pinnacle of academic achievement for secondary students.

Our 2013 tally is 83 scholarships, of which 6 were at the "outstanding" level. Sincere congratulations are extended to our students for their achievements, and acknowledgement is made to the academic ability, preparation and perseverance required of them to reach such degrees of success.

Scholarships were achieved across 15 different subjects - Accounting, Agriculture and Horticulture, Biology, Chemistry, Classical Studies, Design, English, French, Geography, History, Mathematics with Calculus, Media Studies, Photography, Physics, and Statistics.

Outstanding Scholarships were achieved in History, Mathematics with Calculus, and Statistics.

Particular acknowledgement is made of the following students who achieved multiple Scholarship success:

Nuowei (Oliver) Chen

Five Scholarships,
including one Outstanding

Jamie Hucklesby

Four Scholarships

Ryan Cory-Wright

Three Scholarships,
including two Outstanding

Tobias Campbell

Three Scholarships,
including one Outstanding

From left, Krishna Balachandran, Jeremy Barnett, Stanley Deng, Anika Radojkovich, Meshak Ranjit Singh each achieved three Scholarships.

Achieving two scholarships each are: Oliver Brooks, Jessica Courtney, Sarah Crowhurst, Kuldeep Dalvi, Benjamin Dekker, James Drummond, Robert Gore, Leanne Ho, Ursula Lukaszewicz, Sean Pearce, Milos Stojanovic, Yiping Wang, Eric Liu and Run Wu.

Single subject Scholarships success is also acknowledged, and congratulations extended to: Olivia Adams, Samuel Buckman, Jennifer Chen, Jessica Chen, Lauren Curd, Liam Ferguson, Alice Gray, Shuyu Guo, Alexander Hark, Molly Henderson, Hamish Jellyman, Felix Kibblewhite, Zane Koch, Enoch Korapatti, Lan Huong Lai, Jessica Munro, Samuel Nicholson, Zhane O'Neill-Harvey, Jade Robertson, Paht Satjipanon, Jack Scahill, Sarah Tevelyan, Riki Guernier, Nathan Van Dort and Yingying Xiao.

These achievements also provide great satisfaction to the dedicated teaching staff who develop Scholarship programmes to support, coach and direct our students in their Scholarship pursuits, and also the many staff who have contributed to the academic development of these students across their time at Mount Albert Grammar School.

Again, our most sincere congratulations all the Scholarship recipients listed below, together with best wishes for ongoing success in their future academic endeavours. 

Scholarship achievers 2013

First name
Krishna Balachandran Calculus, Statistics, Chemistry
Jeremy Barnett
Calculus, Physics, Statistics
Oliver Brooks
Calculus, Statistics
Samuel Buckman
History (O), English, Media Studies
Jennifer Chen
Nuowei Chen
Calculus (O), Statistics, Chemistry, Physics, Classical Studies
Ryan Cory-Wright
Statistics (O), Calculus (O), Physics
Jessica Courtney
Statistics, Geography
Sarah Crowhurst
Statistics, Calculus
Lauren Curd
Kuldeep Dalvi Statistics, Classical Studies
Benjamin Dekker
Calculus, Physics
Stanley Deng
Calculus (O), Physics, History
James Drummond
Calculus, Statistics
Liam Ferguson
Robert Gore
English, History
Alice Gray
 Riki Guernier
Shuyu Guo
Calculus (O)
Alexander Hark
 Molly Henderson
Media Studies
 Leanne Ho
Media Studies, Photography
 James Hucklesby
Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History
 Hamish Jelleyman
 Felix Kibblewhite
 Zane Koch
 Enoch Korapatti
 Lan Huong
 Eric Liu
Statistics, Calculus
 Ursula Lukaszewicz
Biology, Calculus
 Jessica Munro
 Samuel Nicholson
 Zhane O'Neill-Harvey
 Sean Pearce
Biology, Chemistry
 Anika Radojkovich
Biology, Statistics, Calculus
 Meshak Ranjit Singh
Biology, Chemistry, Physics
 Jade Robertson
 Paht Satjipanon
 Jack Scahill
Agriculture and Horticulture
 Milos Stojanovic
Biology, Accounting
 Sarah Trevelyan
 Nathan Van Dort
 Yiping Wang
Statistics, Calculus
 Run Wu
Statistics, Calculus
 Yingying Xiao

2013 Senior Prizegiving

Oliver Chen and Anika Radojkovich are the Boy Dux and Girl Dux of Mount Albert Grammar School for 2013.

Their awards were announced at the Senior Prizegiving on Monday, 4 November, attended by parents, the National MP for Mt Albert Melissa Lee, Dr Hillary Liddell, sister of Albertian and benefactor Mr Chris Liddell, university representatives and members of the Board of Trustees.

The Best All Round Boy and Girl in Year 13 were named as Ruth Lever and Daniel Nisbet.

The school's top service awards went to Leanne Ho, Jamie Hucklesby and Kenaz Vergis.

Top sports students were Destiny Grace, awarded the Victrix Ludorum, and Irae Simone, the Victor Ludorum.

The top arts prize, or Dux Artium, went to Brosnan Ackerman for the girls, and Matthew James for the boys.

The top teaching award, the Albertians' Travel Award, went to the Head of the Social Sciences Department Ms Christine Cato. CP Liddell Awards for excellence in teaching were given to Head of Outdoor Education Mr Darren Whitehead, Academic Dean Mr Warwick Gibbs, maths teacher Ms Johanna McHardy and Head of Commerce Ms Sarah Hayes.

The full list of prizewinners is here

MAGS girls programmed for success

Eight two-girl teams entered a challenge in Computer Programming for Girls held at the Media Design School at the end of Term 4.

The competition was held to encourage girls to consider programming as a career option. The girls were taught the basics of how to programme, then were required to complete a task using their newly acquired skills.

There were 19 teams entered from a variety of schools. The MAGS teams came away with the following prizes:

Gold: Hayley Nisbet and Rachel Bunn (pictured).

There were three silver medal teams of which MAGS was one:

Silver: Amaya Lodge-Osborn and Isabelle Cassidy.

There were five bronze medal teams of which MAGS were two:

Bronze: Alicia Anderson and Kate Wislang.

Bronze: Abbey Lissaman and Mahima Taunk.

Part of the prize for the top winners of PC4G (Programming Challenge for Girls) is an invitation to a summer camp held in Wellington in April.  Congratulations to the girls!

Year 11 Prizegiving 2013

For the first time a dedicated prizegiving was held for Year 11 students on Friday, 1 November. Parents were invited to see students receive their awards from Headmaster Mr Dale Burden and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr Greg Moyle. The full list of prizewinners is here

Caitlyn Jelleyman, winner
of the Jo Williams Cup
for Diligence

Mana Carr, winner of
Robert Wilmott Cup for
Quality of Effort

Grace Drummond, winner
of the Brian Murphy Cup
for Best All Round Girl

Frankie Patten-Elliott,
winner of the Warwick Gibbs
Cup for Best All Round Boy

High Distinctions in Australian Chemistry Quiz 2013

Sixty four schools in New Zealand took part in the Australian Chemistry Quiz this year.

The top 10% of students were awarded High Distinctions.

MAGS had 35 entrants receive this honour.

Year 11


Year 12

Year 13

Ravid Aharon

Sammy Ayoun Soud

Henry Babour

Bruno Batinic

Andrew Battley

Alexander Boyd

Samantha Brake

Jessica Chen

Kevin Gao

Hazel Glasgow

Riki Guerner

Alex Hunt

Sean Kelly

Yixin Ma

Frankie Patten-Elliott

Alex Spencer

Johnson Sun

Jonathan Winter

Zinzan Zhao

Eilish Buckley

Samuel Buckman

Eddy Canning

Alexandra Chaptynova

Ryan Cory-Wright

Ben Dekker

Hannah Liell

Jack Mabus

Timothy Sinclair

Edwin Stanton

Jonathan Stuart

Emma Bunn

Oliver Chen

Kuldeep Dalvi

Sean Pearce

Nathan Van Dort