Meet Libby Murphy. You could say the 12-year-old student is a living example of the age-old adage a healthy body makes a healthy mind.
A school age-group high jump champion at ACG Strathallan near Karaka in south Auckland, she also plays netball, tennis, represents the school at swimming and was last year named Strathallan's junior allrounder of the year.
Libby also sings - taking lessons at school - and is preparing to play the lead role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, her school's musical to be staged in June.
Not that all of this activity gets in the way of her work in the classroom, where she scores marks in the 70 to 90 per cent range and has special interest in maths and history.
Her story highlights a dilemma parents often face: balancing the academic versus sport/art mix for their child. Some think a school which focuses heavily on the academic is the route to success; others worry that their child is "too sporty" to do well in an academic environment.
Libby bubbles when talking about ACG Strathallan. "I've been here since pre-school and I really love it. I've got good friends, the teachers are great and I find the extra-curricular things definitely help me focus."
Her achievements and the curriculum offered by ACG (ACG Strathallan is one of five independent schools in the ACG group), show balance between both is the answer - a view in line with recent international opinion.
A paper published in 2010 by Dr Karen Martin of the school of population health at the University of Western Australia, says increased participation in sport and other forms of activity are thought to lead to enhancement of cognitive functioning (information processing), memory, concentration, behaviour and academic achievement for children.
In an article in the Education Review, New Zealand teacher Andy Ellmers who has taught in schools in England, Egypt and China, says many skills necessary to function beyond secondary school - time management, commitment to a long-term project and the maintenance of positive relationships -cannot be directly assessed through exams.
"By their nature extra-curricular activities foster different personal skills from class-based activities," he says. "What does not seem to vary is that successful academic students by and large are also the students who have devoted time and effort to extracurricular activities."
A 2013 report, prepared by the Sport Industry Research Centre of Sheffield Hallam University in Britain, shows involvement in sport may be a crucial factor later in life when today's school children are looking for jobs. Over 90 per cent of employers surveyed believed sport has a positive impact for "employability".
"There is significant evidence from employers that engagement in sport is a recognised strength," the report says. "As numbers of graduates increase, students need to do more than pass a degree to get their first job.
"Sport provides a wide range of positive attributes wanted by employers notably team working, communication skills, motivation, competitiveness and resilience."
ACG is New Zealand's largest provider of quality independent school education. In Auckland, almost 20 per cent of all independent school students attend an ACG school. But, as Libby's example shows, ACG appeals to a wide cross-section of students and is not just about academic results.
Jane Whyte's 16-year-old son Christian has followed two older brothers to ACG Strathallan. She says 10 years ago the school was "unashamedly academic ", but has since had huge development in its extra-curricular offerings.
"Kids receive a well-rounded education which gives them a platform from which to live effectively. They can see life is about balance," she says.
ACG's director of schools, Clarence van der Wel, says all its schools believe in the value of a holistic education.
"At the end of the day," he says, "while strong results demonstrate the exceptional learning offered at our schools, what we most want is for our students to emerge as well-rounded people with an appreciation of education who will make a great contribution to society - whatever their strengths."