Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, nestled in the heart of Ponsonby, has achieved a remarkable 30 scholarships for its departing students – its best result ever.
“For the size of school it’s extraordinary,” says Student Services Director Maggie Hames. “I really get very excited because I know what it will mean for the students. It is life changing.
“If they’re tracking to go into competitive courses and they can do so without financial concerns, and not having to work long hours in a part-time job, it can make all the difference.”
Principal Ngaire Ashmore agrees, especially considering the school’s roll is just 1000 students. To give that perspective, it means 15% of AGGS’ regular students leave school this year with a scholarship or an award.
“We punch way above our weight,” Ashmore says.
“People don’t know, so we want to shout it from the rooftops. We want to share and celebrate because we are an exceptionally high-achieving school. The scholarships are the pinnacle of that and the fact that we only have 1000 girls – you’re much more likely to access, apply for and be successful at a school with our numbers.”
The scholarship winners will disburse all around the country – Auckland, Otago and Waikato universities, and into the trades nationwide.
Says Ashmore: “It means the world to us. It’s recognition of the hard work and high calibre of teaching plus our families – whanau – who are choosing and investing and sacrificing to send their girls to Auckland Girls’ Grammar. It’s something we’re so proud of.”
Maggie Hames is immensely proud of all the scholarships achieved, but there are some which particularly stand out for her.
Simranjeet Kaur heads to Otago to study medicine on an Academic Excellence scholarship worth $35,000 – with few schools around the country attaining such a coveted scholarship win.
And Nellina Vaovasa (AUT Communications) has won the $25,000 Sir George Elliot scholarship.
“We haven’t had one of these since 2006. They only give three a year and it’s a very prestigious scholarship,” explains Hames.
“Of all of them, it’s quite remarkable because it’s so competitive. It was a long process and, to finish, Nellina had to interview at a law firm in front of a panel of five which is very daunting. So we’re really proud of her.”
At the other end of the financial scale is a scholarship winner Hames is personally especially proud of: Cecilia Paul, who also won an apprenticeship, gained the new (August 2019) Prime Minister’s Vocational Award, worth $2000, and the $500 Old Girls Trust Trade Scholarship.
“Cecilia identified in year 11 that she had an interest in the building and construction industry and she has worked so hard. She now has an apprenticeship which starts early next year – it’s fantastic,” Hames beams.
“Every holidays she gave up her two-week break to work (for a construction company) and now she’s won this scholarship. And do you know what she’s going to do with her money? She’s going to buy her tools. We’d bought her some basic tools but now she can get top-level ones. It really will change things for her.”
Principal Ashmore concurs and is full of praise for the work Maggie and the rest of the AGGS teaching staff put into the scholarship drive.
“It’s definitely recognition for all the work that goes in by all our teachers. And we are so lucky to have Maggie because she has exceptional institutional knowledge of the tertiary sector and sees the enormous potential of our girls. Sometimes they don’t believe it and just need someone to support and nurture them.”
Adds Maggie: “It’s my highest priority. And it’s just so rewarding.
We have these girls here for five years. But this (winning a scholarship) is with them forever – and it does make a huge difference. They are life changing because they not only get the scholarship but they also get the support.
“And many of them come back here to school when they’ve made their way in the world and talk to the current students, so it’s twofold. It’s very nurturing.”
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