St Paul's 2018 Altrusa Award recipient, Julia McLean by Rachel Fitness

Julia McLean receives Altrusa Award

Year 12 student Julia McLean received the Altrusa Youth Award at a special civic ceremony on Tuesday 30 October. Julia was nominated for her dedication in all areas of school life – service, sport, academic and cultural.

The following is the personal statement written by Julia that was sent to Altrusa when they asked for a nomination from St Paul’s Collegiate School:

“Being a courteous and polite human being has become an essential in a society, where these traits are few and far between. I always strive to be courteous to others by offering support and respecting every individual I meet. This includes my classmates, teachers, friends, family as well as strangers. As a boarder, it is essential to recognise the diversity and uniqueness of those around you, ensuring peace and harmony. My ability to act politely is challenged daily. I have to respect others are sharing the same house as me. Therefore, I need to keep in mind that my choices may be restricted. The feelings and space of others constantly on my mind. I have shown that I am a polite and courteous person through my involvement in community service, my respect for others in the boarding house and everyday interactions with my peers and strangers.

I always try to maintain a positive attitude despite any obstacles I am challenged to overcome. As a Year 11 student, I noticed that within St Paul’s the value placed on the arts did not match that for sport. After originally being very disheartened, my interest was sparked and I used my initiative. I realised that if I didn’t say anything, there would be no change, so I decided to take action. As a result, I spent my summer holiday writing a letter to Mr Lander, the Headmaster of St Paul’s Collegiate School, to raise awareness of this issue. Promptly after receiving my letter, Mr Lander called me into his office to discuss my concerns. Due to my letter, I have now seen a conscious effort, by the management staff of the school, to increase the value placed on the arts within our school. Whilst there is still progress to be made, I believe that my passion for this issue aided the school in turning over a new leaf, a new chapter, raising awareness of the inequality of value placed on sport and the arts.

I have been a valued member of the St Paul’s Collegiate 3rd XI as a winger for two years now. As hockey is a team sport, I believe an important aspect of all group work is to be an enthusiastic member, that is always willing to work hard to help support your teammates reap success. These are characteristics that I strive to display for my team. My ability to work well with my team resulted in us gaining fifth place in our division this year, which all of the girls in my team were very proud to achieve. As part of the team, I also attended sports practices weekly, where I would work to improve my hockey skills and develop stronger bonds with those around me.

I believe that serving my community is one of the most valuable gifts any person could bestow. Helping those less fortunate improves the life of those I help and widens my horizons in the process. This year I have been involved in many different forms of community work in and out of school. I have been actively involved in the St Paul’s Collegiate School, “Over-the-Fence Ministry” programme, where students from our school community go over to the neighbouring primary schools that are socio-economically challenged. These schools include Bankwood Primary and Fairfield Primary. At these schools, we play games/sports with the children and enhance their learning. This year I have also been given the opportunity to organise those girls in my house participating in “Over-the-Fence”. I have participated in the 40-hour famine for the past two years. In 2017, I did 40 hours living like a refugee, where I had to live out of a backpack. This year, I decided to make use of my sewing skills by making the tops of baby quilts for 40 hours. Although I only managed to make the tops of these quilts, I plan on completing all five of them and donating them to Plunket or an organisation that will be able to hand them out to deprived families. On the 29th and 30th September, I volunteered at the Te Awamutu Performing Arts Competitions for piano. Over the two day period, I worked as scribe and making morning tea/refreshments for the adjudicator.

I am very involved in the arts within St Paul’s Collegiate School. I am a keen pianist and I am currently working towards my Grade 4 ABRSM piano exam, where I am aiming to gain distinction. To be able to make progress with my piano, I wake up at 6:00am every morning leading up to my exam, to practice before school starts. I played piano for Sargood House for the house singing competition in 2017. Also for this year's school production, I decided to try out for a role. This resulted in me getting cast as Vivienne Kensington, a lead in “Legally Blonde - the musical”. This was a challenge for me, as I had to sing a solo, which was difficult considering my little singing experience. However, after guidance from Mr Timothy Carpenter (Choral Director at St Paul’s Collegiate School) and daily practice, I improved significantly. I am very happy that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone as it encouraged me to start singing lessons. Since joining the choir in 2017, I have been lucky enough to perform at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Regional Big Sing, where we were placed in the top four. This experience taught me many important life skills. However, more specifically it taught me resilience and perseverance as we spent the weeks leading up to the competition rehearsing vigorously. On top of all of this, I also do The Trinity College Communication Skills exams gaining distinction in my Grade 5 exam last year. Currently, I am working towards gaining my Grade 6 qualification, where I am aiming to gain distinction.

I am a student with a strong work ethic and aim to achieve my best in all aspects of school. Personally, I believe that having a positive attitude is the best way to approach anything you pursue. If I am unsure of a concept, I never fail to ask questions of my teachers or arrange tutorials with them. I think that education is very important and should be offered to all and effectively utilised. Therefore, I am a strong supporter of always being punctual and completing all my work to a high standard. My constant positive attitude and hard-work is reflected in my school grades. For NCEA Level One, I endorsed with Excellence and gained acknowledgement as a Scholastic Centurion for geography. On top of this, I also got a GPA of 91% for NCEA Level One. Overall I think I am well-rounded person with a kind spirit and curious mind which I endeavour to spread wherever I go.”