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Our Mission Statement
In an environment of integrity and respect NPBHS
engages and prepares confident, well-educated young men.
Major Awards 2014
Wolfe Cup (All Round Sporting Excellence)
Performing Artist of Year
Performing Group of Year
Sportsman of the Year
Team of the Year
Adventure Racing/Hillary Challenge Team
Dux - Tom Spencer
“The future will present insurmountable problems
– only when we consider them insurmountable.”
The manacles of despair were gnawing away at my resolution. Black. That’s all there was inside this dark empty hole. I wanted out.
There comes an instant in every race; the point of self-judgement; where one must decide to let life pass them by; like water flowing around them. Or stare ones demons in the eye and charge straight through them. One feels as though they can give no more, but are asked to do so. We don’t even consider the question; we answer with renewed enterprise and come out on top.
We tore out to the front of the pack, moving as a unit past the animals sharing our cage; leaving them in our wake to be crushed by their prison and their internal narcissism, by their doubt and their exhaustion.
Panting, muscles aching as never before, I lifted dead-weights up the steps, but I lifted faster than the rest. One foot shot up, the next swung purposefully over the wall and down onto slate, scattering shards of shingle. Before I had made an impression my trail shoes were flowing into the next step, and the next. A lion amongst a stampede, I was forced to trust in my pride alone and centre in on each step up this god forsaken mountain. Shackles rubbed my ankles to the point where each step was an agonising chafe, a toll of chain dragging me back down to my prison cell. But resistance is what I’m made of.
An extract from Steve Gurney’s autobiography?
NO. That was an extract from Tom Spencer - creative writing 2014.
I first meet Tom on YouTube. He introduced himself courtesy of an impersonation of Bear Grylls. It was to promote adventure racing, to win the school a kitchen or something. The confidence, the humour, the ability to express himself were clear to see in that clip. And this was the Tom I got to know over the last 2 years as his English teacher.
Like the extract I just read, I believe Tom starts everyday asking questions of himself and of life, and is unyielding in his search for answers. Much like the adventure racer, who needs many facets – apart from being extremely fit – Tom does not beg for a break from his quest for learning and wanting to succeed.
It was no surprise that Tom took an interest in the poetry of Robert Frost. Frost is famous for the lines:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Tom, much like all of you, will know that there is a double, and much deeper, meaning to these lines. It was this challenge to look at one’s self, I think, that captured Tom. And Tom found many personal meanings in the poetry of Robert Frost. For example:
“(Frost) manipulates the reader into reviewing the wisdom of their own actions … for them to become the best person they can be.”
And also Tom wrote:
“it is only by “laying the swale out in rows”; by labouring in the field, by searching and striving to master a task, that Frost says we will find our wisdom.”
Of Frost’s phrase “only so an hour” Tom wrote that it:
“reinforces the brevity of youth – as we “grow” older we lose our innocence, hence why we should lay our own “swale out in rows”, and get the most out of youth while we have it.”
These are Tom’s thoughts about the role literature can play in our life. These are words that can also be applied to Tom himself:
- make the most of life
- constantly look to gain wisdom
- strive to be the best you can be.
Tom does make the most of every second, and applies the same dedication and calibre of work ethic to everything he does. Whichever subject at school. Whatever physical pursuit.
Tom’s cheerful resilience is my favourite thing about him. He would pour over texts, lapping up the ideas with enthusiasm. But also, of equal importance, Tom also listened carefully to his classmates, so he could respond to their ideas. He would get this look, much like my dog … a raised eyebrow, the tilt of the head … thankfully the tongue didn’t quite hang out! … This all indicated that Tom genuinely wanted to know what his classmates thought. He was curious. Interested.
Over the past two years, whether it was a classmate or a published writer, Tom wanted to add his own thoughts, his own interpretation, and make it his own. I often wrote on his assessments:
“a very honest explanation Tom; a strong sense of personal involvement”
As a way of finishing I thought I should again go back to Tom’s own words. Tom had this to say in 2013:
“Using technology for everything takes away a person’s independence. They will merely do what is easiest; not what is necessarily right. The word sedentary means inactive, and comes from the Latin word sedes, which means “to sit down”. Due to technology, and improvements in widespread communication, people now take things sitting down. Would a strong, proud, independent New Zealander who believed in their cause, one who was prepared to do what they felt was true to themselves, take things done to offend them, sitting down? Only a sedentary person would allow themselves to be pushed around. This is not what New Zealand should be like. This means that New Zealand society is becoming sedentary with regards to its own pride.”
Even though Tom will have to “sit down” and study for the next month, I am sure he won’t take it just “sitting down”. Just as I am sure he will also immerse himself fully in his Health Science studies … for the next 6 years! Tom is a proud, articulate, driven young man; a positive role-model.
To Tom’s parents, Jonathan and Lorna. Thank you for allowing us to teach, and also to learn, from your son. It has been a journey many have enjoyed taking with him.
Tom Morgan Jeffery Spencer.
New Plymouth Boys’ High School Dux.