Their skin is lacking vitamin D and their fingers have developed calluses from a tight grip on a pen. High school students spend all year working towards passing NCEA and conversations about credits, internals and exams are just part of daily life. The country's schools' official results are in and Rotorua has been dished out its report card. Some exceeded the national average and others fell below the mark. One school has improved by nearly a quarter from 10 years ago. How did your school do?
Going from NCEA results that barely passed to sitting comfortably above the national average, Rotorua Lakes High School is showing how a school can turn its students' achievement around.
Over the past 10 years, all Rotorua schools have improved their average NCEA achievement across all year groups.
Reporoa College and Tarawera High School were the only schools in the district to have an average achievement, at each year level, below the national average last year.
Rotorua Girls' High School Level 1 and 2 also sat below the national average but their Level 3 results exceeded the national average.
This is according to the 2018 NZQA cumulative year data for Year 11s achieving Level 1, Year 12s achieving Level 12 and Year 13s achieving Level 3 which included internals and externals.
Rotorua Lakes High School, which managed an average achievement across all year levels of 55.2 per cent in 2009, improved to just below 80 per cent last year.
The school's Level 2 students had a 90 per cent achievement, well above the 77.4 per cent national average for the level.
This success was down to creating worthwhile academic pathways students were interested in pursuing, according to deputy principal and Year 12 line manager Ross Dunn.
The key to success: Engage students and success will follow.
Man who punched teacher still on the run from police
Special needs students devastated after beloved trampoline 'slashed'
Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy welcomed to Rotorua
The school followed the structure of vocational pathways which shows students exactly what they need to do to get where they want to go.
Dunn said students were well supported by house tutors, deans and career advisers which aided in putting everyone on the same page in terms of each student's goals.
New principal Jon Ward said moving forward, he was not worried about whether the results rose or fell as long as the best pathway for each individual student was found.
"You obviously don't want the results to drop but it's about helping students achieve a future they want," he said.
Rotorua Lakes High School's Year 13 student Ruby Ryan is heading to Canada for the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships .
But her plans for further study in either sports and exercise or commerce means the competitive academic still needs to achieve in school.
Often away competing, teachers have helped her work towards her goals.
They ensured Ryan was prepared for internals, either sitting them in her own time or having a timetable worked around her schedule.
"It's hard to balance... my teachers help me a lot through the timing of assessments and making sure I fit everything in," she said.
Her classmate, Haylee Steele, is in the final push towards enrolling in a Bachelor of Teaching next year, following her dream of entering the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector.
She has come a long way from not knowing if she would pass last year to now being willing to take on extra papers in her own time.
This was down to the fact that her goals were refined and she knew what she needed to do to get there.
"It's helped me through my schooling knowing that's what I want to do so I won't give up," Steele said.
With frequent meetings with teachers at the school, she is making strides towards her bachelor's enrolment.
The two girls have different futures ahead of them but are similar in their motivation to achieve at school.
They were both part of the Level 2 students who contributed to the average of 90 per cent average achievement at the school last year.
Ryan and Steele demonstrate the flexibility around individual students' needs at the school, which was said to be one of the keys to the achievement which has improved by nearly 25 per cent since 2009.
John Paul College consistently topped the district in terms of average achievement across the school, with 94.9 per cent overall achievement, up about 12 per cent from a decade ago.
Principal Patrick Walsh said there was no silver bullet and it came down to hard work and high expectations of the students.
"We know you only get one shot at a high-quality education and we take very seriously the fact that parents are trusting us to provide their children with the best quality education that we can," he said.
"The proof is in the pudding ... we have a large number of students who become engineers, doctors and lawyers but also people who get apprenticeships, trades and work."
Walsh said some people thought private schools outside of Rotorua were needed for high quality education and was proud to show that travel out of town was not needed.
Last year, $300,000 worth of scholarships were awarded to Year 13 students, from the school and externally.
Rural school Reporoa College, although having gradually improved over the past 10 years, has gone from having the third highest achievement in the district to the second lowest, only just ahead of Tarawera High School.
The small school of 230 students meant the data could be skewed easier, which principal Brendon Carroll said was evident in the Level 3 achievement scraping through at 50 per cent.
"There were 20 students in Year 13 ... one student's results make up 5 per cent of the results," he said.
"It can be misleading."
The school valued hard work and Carroll said it was more important to have students engaged in their passion than chase credits.
"We try and direct our students to where they're heading rather than [necessarily] NCEA," Carroll said.
Using vocational pathways, Carroll said the school guided students towards work they wanted to do after school.
"We do have a lot of students on vocational pathways rather than straight academic."
But in an attempt to improve on the achievement, Carroll said each student and their parents would be interviewed ahead of their subject choices for next year to find what was suited to each student.
This was something he did at his previous high school and said it was successful.
Rotorua Girls' High School principal Sarah Davis said there had been a "major review" of the curriculum throughout every year group.
The school has created an academic dean role to track students across all subjects this year, will create a learning hub in the junior school and strengthen support for senior students.
Davis said this would make sure those who were at risk of leaving without appropriate NCEA qualifications were picked up and supported.
She said there had been an increase in enrolments throughout the year which made gaining qualifications more complicated.