Despite a tough and unprecedented year in 2020, Rotorua students continued to excel in their academic ventures.
More than 10,400 students entered New Zealand Scholarship examinations last year, and of those who sat them, 2148 students were awarded one or more scholarships across the 36 subjects.
New Zealand Scholarship assesses students on their ability to demonstrate high-level critical thinking, abstraction and generalisation.
John Paul College topped the list of Bay of Plenty recipients with students achieving 15 Scholarships and three Outstanding Scholarships.
Principal Patrick Walsh said NCEA Scholarships were the premium academic award for New Zealand students.
"You have to be in the top 3 per cent nationally of students sitting this exam to achieve one and the top 1 per cent nationally to achieve an Outstanding Scholarship.
"It demonstrates that at JPC and in Rotorua we have some of the best and brightest scholars in New Zealand.
"It is, for the students and teachers, a badge of honour that they can claim with pride."
He said the scholarships opened up opportunities to gain entry into difficult courses such as medicine, law and engineering.
"It proves without doubt that Rotorua has excellent schools and students who can foot it with the best schools in Auckland and Wellington.
"We are hopeful of building on these results in 2021 with our Scholarship programme already under way."
Ishan Nath was a year 13 John Paul College student last year, and received a perfect score in Scholarship calculus and has had an offer for Cambridge University.
He said he had been quietly optimistic and was very happy with the result.
His advice to prepare for the exams was to start studying early, look through past papers and attend any extra classes/tutorials.
Ishan also represented New Zealand in the 2020 International Mathematical Olympiad and won the New Zealand team's only gold with a score of 35 out of 42.
Paul Conrad, Rotorua Boys' High School deputy principal teaching and learning, said the school was pleased by the results - five Scholarships.
"It is the highest form of academic achievement in our NCEA system and therefore reflects a high level of hard work from students, teachers and whānau."
He said it was also a reflection of hard work, planning and support from kaiako in these subject areas.
"As always, we have high hopes and expectations of our young men entering and achieving in scholarship exams.
"However, we temper this with supporting them to gain their Level 3 qualifications in the first instance, so they have a platform to succeed after school."
Rotorua Boys' High School 2020 Dux Litterarum, Sameed Khan gained two Scholarship results in statistics and English.
"On the morning (when results were released), I had been nervous to find out how I did, but I knew that regardless of the results I tried my best and would accept any outcome.
"I was really excited to see my results and was grateful that my hard work had paid off.
"My advice for other students is be diligent. Test yourself, then push your limits after each and every practice. Just like sports training, practice makes perfect."
Principal of Western Heights High School, which achieved four Scholarships, James Bracefield said the school had a proud record of earning Scholarships.
"To achieve Scholarship students need to have developed a high degree of critical thinking, and often the Scholarship course requires the study of an additional topic, outside the normal curriculum.
"We find that our Cambridge courses provide excellent preparation for these examinations."
He said students had a passion for learning in these areas and were eager to take the opportunity to sit scholarship to just "see how they would go".
"This positive attitude and approach to learning as well as their academic preparation is reflected in these results.
"We have high expectations for all our students. In 2021 - a year that we hope will not be disrupted by Covid-19 - we will work with our students to achieve even better results.
"Three of the scholarships were earned by year 12 students so the prospects of more success seem bright."
WHHS year 13 students Ashton McGarvie and Zach Jans both received Scholarships - Ashton in English and history and Zach in English.
Ashton said he felt happy when he got one for English as he had been nervous he messed up in the exam.
Zach said he was chuffed when he found out as he hadn't been expecting it.
"I was just thinking it would be a good experience to practice for the next year."
Rotorua Lakes High School principal Jon Ward said he was massively proud of the students' results and the effort they had put in, as well as of their staff and the way they supported students.
"For the scholarships it's a massive task over and above, and is a very different type of exam to NCEA, and the teachers support them."
He said last year was an interesting one, but the students and staff put in extra effort and still achieved great results.
"I'm just really proud of the staff and students. We are really hitting well above national average."
Scholarships awarded in wider Bay of Plenty
Tauranga Boys' College - 16 Scholarships
John Paul College - 15 Scholarships, 3 Outstanding Scholarships
Otumoetai College - 15 Scholarships, 1 Outstanding Scholarship
Bethlehem College - 11 Scholarships, 2 Outstanding Scholarships
Trident High School - 11 Scholarships, 2 Outstanding Scholarships
Tauranga Girls' College - 11 Scholarships
Aquinas College - 10 Scholarships, 1 Outstanding Scholarship
Whakatāne High School - 7 Scholarships
Rotorua Boys' High School - 5 Scholarships
Te Wharekura o Ngati Rongomai - 4 Scholarships, 1 Outstanding Scholarship
Katikati College - 4 Scholarships
Rotorua Lakes High School - 4 Scholarships
Western Heights High School - 4 Scholarships
Papamoa College - 3 Scholarships
TKKM o Ruamata - 3 Scholarships
Te Wharekura o Mauao - 3 Scholarships
TKKM o Te Koutu - 2 Scholarships, 1 Outstanding Scholarship
Edgecumbe College - 1 Scholarship
Mount Maunganui College - 1 Scholarship
- Source: NZQA