It is traditional for a school to name its top student Dux at the end of the year.
In some years, the margin may be close enough that the Dux is awarded jointly to two.
But for three students to be made joint Dux - as happened at Tauhara College's prizegiving last week - is virtually unheard of.
But Luis Contreras, Olivia Moore and Ayla Yeoman were so close in marks that staff found it impossible to favour one over the others. So, the college named all three top students 2020 Dux.
What's more the trio couldn't be happier about it, although they all specialised in markedly different subjects.
Luis is a science man, Ayla is into classics, history and law, and Olivia is an entrepreneur and creative who has been running her own successful business since year 11.
The achievement is especially sweet for Luis, 17, who arrived from Venezuela two years ago barely able to speak English.
"I was alone most of the time because I couldn't hold a conversation with anyone."
Luis worked hard and learned fast, and by the second half of the year his language skills had progressed.
"I think after the [school] ball last year I made more actual friends and after that everything was way better, and I had a better year this year."
Classes too were a struggle at first. He didn't like to admit he didn't understand something so would look it up in books or online after classes to figure out the material he was learning.
"It was kind of difficult because there were talking about specific stuff, like in chemistry it was really hard to understand what they were saying."
This year he took maths with calculus, chemistry, biology, physics and English, and even though he found English hard, he still achieved excellence grades and placed first in all his other subjects.
Luis says while he was a top student in Venezuela and has done well despite the language difficulties, he was surprised to be made Dux.
"My friends used to say that I was going to get Dux because I get good grades... and I was like 'no, I don't think so' because it's very competitive at Tauhara."
His study advice is to read old exam papers as well as revising because they give students a good idea of what will be asked.
Luis has applied for New Zealand residency and next year he would like to go to Auckland or Otago universities and study either biomedical sciences or engineering.
Ayla Yeoman, 18, also admits she was surprised to be named Dux, saying there are a lot of "very, very bright people" in her year group and she didn't think she had a chance.
Ayla had a heavy workload of six subjects: classics, history, maths with statistics, English, business studies and legal studies, with the legal studies done by correspondence. As well as Dux, she was awarded diligence in classics, history, English and business studies and has achieved excellences in all her assessments so far.
Her favourite subject was classics and she also enjoyed legal studies, saying learning by correspondence was easier than expected.
"You have a teacher you can email and you have all these workbooks so you can take your time."
Ayla says she was nervous when she, Luis and Olivia were all summoned to the foot of the stage stairs for the announcement of the Dux and Proxime Accessit.
"There were only two awards and I was like 'I'm going to be the one that misses out here' and then they called three of us up so I was very pleasantly surprised."
Luckily, the cups and trophies all stay at the college after the photographs so there was no tussling over who got to take the dux trophy home, Ayla joked.
"We all just stood there for the photo and we all had a hand on it, we were definitely not fighting over it, we were just happy to get the award."
Next year Ayla plans to go to Auckland University to do conjoint degrees in law and global studies, with a view to working in international law. Her tips for success are to focus on your own work, stay on top of the load, not compare yourself to others and always try your best.
The third dux, Olivia Moore, 17, says she too was surprised to be named Dux, mainly because she is taking only four subjects this year, which she has been juggling with running her own food business That Green Olive and taking part in the Global Kaitiakitanga Project.
She studied English, classics, music and painting and says she and her friends all thought Luis would be Dux, although she and Ayla might stand a chance at Proxime Accessit.
Olivia says her secret to academic success has been to be prepared and organised.
"I'm very perfectionist, so if I don't understand something in class I'll make sure I study afterwards until I get it and until the mock [exams] I was busy going over my notes re-writing everything and making sure I had all my facts. I never like leaving things till the last minute so I like to start as soon as I can on it."
Olivia will be working as a junior supervisor at Taupō cafe Cozy Corner over the summer and then wants to study something related to food next year, either online or in person if she can find a suitable course. She does food photography and recipe development and also get paid by brands to promote their products on her Instagram page That Green Olive, which has 12,000 followers.
"Long term I want to keep being a food entrepreneur and at the moment with my food photography and recipe development that's something I could transfer across to food cookbooks, recipe writing or opening my own eatery. I really want to set high goals and achieve them."