Class Act: St Kevin’s College

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Jesse Valpy

Jesse Valpy learned a lot from sitting behind the stumps.

The St Kevin’s College cricketer and footballer’s first love has always been sport and it has taught him valuable lessons.

“You learn a lot of good lessons about resilience and getting back up after being knocked down,” Jesse said.

“You learn about hard work and the importance of that.”

The 17-year-old is talented in both arenas, playing for St Kevin’s First XI cricket team since 2019, representing Under-15 and Under-17 cricket for North Otago and the North Otago A team This year. He has played first XI football since 2020 and has been captain since 2021, and has represented Waitaki and South Canterbury.

The apprenticeship also helped him to deepen his favorite subject: English.

“You learn a lot of lessons – you look at a lot of different perspectives from different people, especially when you look at texts that are maybe from a while ago and you can still see how the issues or the themes of these texts are very relevant today.”

His love for the written word has opened doors for him – Jesse won the Dooley Family Cup for Scripture Reading in 2020, and he’s been involved in impromptu, prepared debates and speeches in the Bishop’s Shield since 2018.

Jesse is St Kevin’s Head Boy and said it has been a special privilege, allowing him to give back to the community.

He plans to attend the University of Otago to earn a Bachelor of Arts and Science, majoring in Sports Development and Management and English.

Achievements: Head Boy (2022); NCEA Levels 1 and 2 with excellence; student council member (2020); Bronze Medal for Service (2021); Bishop’s Shield Debate, Impromptu and Prepared Speech (2018-22), Dooley Family Cup for Scripture Reading (2020); St Kevin’s College Cricket First XI (2019-22); St Kevin’s College First XI Football (2020-22); St Kevin’s College First XI Football Captain (2021-22), St Kevin’s College Still Fair Play Cup Football (2021); St Kevin’s College Junior XI Cricket Coach (2021-22); Waitaki 15th year of football (2019); South Canterbury Under-16 Football (2021); North Otago Under-15 Cricket (2018-19); North Otago Under-17 Cricket (2020-21); North Otago A cricket team (2022).

Model: My dad, he taught me the importance of hard work and dedication, and author JRR Tolkien. The way Tolkien conveys important themes, as well as the beauty and authenticity of his works and their influence on the whole world, encourages me to stay authentic and not be afraid to live my own life.

Hopes for the future: Something related to sports, coaching, giving back, doing what I can to help others in this way.

Cushla Bridges

Cushla Bridges is a multi-talented young woman.

The Principal of St Kevin’s College is a netball player, ballet dancer and debater, with a strong passion for the environment and tramping.

Growing up on a farm, Cushla’s mother sensed she had “rubber feet” and sent her to ballet to fix them – but it became an art form that taught her a lot.

“It’s very difficult, incredibly difficult…but it’s also a testament to your patience,” she said.

She loved pushing and walking, and participating in the Duke of Edinburgh – where she won silver and bronze awards – made that possible.

“I think the limits you set for yourself are really just limits. You can go much further.”

Last year, she led the Leos Club of St Kevin, creating 12 birdhouses for Signal Hill in Oamaru and organizing the planting of 5,000 trees.

“I think for the amount we’re getting out of the environment, it’s really cool.”

A naturally strong leader, Cushla had aspired to be Head Girl since she was in the middle tier and was grateful to fill the role this year.

Next year, she will attend the University of Otago, where she will study a Bachelor of Arts and Science, with a major in Genetics and a minor in Computer Science.

“I’m really interested in the whole biological side of anatomy. Genetics is obviously an incredibly interesting part that’s growing.”

Achievements: Head Girl (2022); NCEA Levels 1 and 2 with excellence; St Kevin’s Service Award, Gold, Silver and Bronze; Best Bishop’s Shield Debate Team, Best Speaker, Best Team Leader (20220; Bishop’s Shield Debate Best Team Leader and Overall Winning Team (2021); St Kevin’s Best Debater, Top Speaker, Plate of St Kevin’s College Life, Award of Diligence, Top in Drama, Best in Art, Dooley Cup for Speech (2021); St Kevin’s Prom Committee Leader (2022); Leader of Leos Oamaru (2021); Member Girl Boss Outstanding Achievement (2021-22); Girl Boss Full Scholarship for Communications Program; Spirit of Adventure, Voted Captain (2022); Hands on Otago Participant (2022); Bronze and Silver Duke of ‘Edinburgh; ballet RDA grade 1-6 excellence, BBO grade 7-8 excellence, 8 merit, test medal 1-3 senior excellence; Otago netball representative 2017; Maheno Netball Club most promising under-21 player (2021); Highly Commended Oamaru Speech Awards (2018), Grades 1-5 Highly Commended.

Model: I have role models in different parts – my dad’s work ethic, my mom’s kindness, David Attenborough’s passion, and Michelle Obama’s wisdom.

Hopes for the future: I think it would be really cool to be part of a breakthrough of something very unrealistic.

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