Education: Kristin School
Kristin Students at TedxYouth
Ted Talks have become a global phenomenon with thousands of the world’s best thinkers using the platform to share their thoughts and ideas. At the recent TedxYouth conference in Auckland, two Kristin students were challenged to give the presentation of their lifetime in 18 minutes or less.
Elspeth Carroll and Christian Silver were invited to speak separately about the work they are doing to follow their dreams and change the world. Both members of Kristin’s recently named 2014 Prefect team, Elspeth and Christian have already established themselves as innovative thinkers and passionate creatives in their respective areas of film and programming.
Elspeth is an aspiring filmmaker who set up her own company, Fluffy Socks Films, in 2011. With a steadily growing list of film credits for acting, direction and production, Elspeth is actively pursuing her dreams, seeking out contacts, connections and innovative ways to enable her vision to become a reality. “Everyone is interested in something, and when you find what that is for you, don’t let anything stop you from creating, doing or fulfilling that interest … I have set myself a goal of becoming a renowned producer. No, it hasn’t happened yet, and no, I don’t expect it to be just around the corner. But when you have a goal, nothing gets in your way.”
The drive of this 16-year old was evident as she spoke about seeking out and embracing opportunities, sourcing scholarships and even gaining the support the Prime Minister in order to make it to the French Woods Festival of Performing Arts in New York. “People say this whole industry is who you know and not what you know, but this didn’t happen because I knew people. It happened because I put myself out there and I made it happen.”
Elspeth’s energy and determination in the pursuit of her dreams is unwavering. Already she has plans for how her filmmaking will fund her continued education, growing her portfolio and expanding her understanding of the world around her.
Christian Silver also has a vision. The newly appointed Deputy Head Boy is on a mission to make programming more accessible to youth. Through his own experience as an aspiring programmer, Christian recognises the impact of our consumer culture on the way technology is absorbed by society, and in turn on the skills and interests being developed amongst so-called digital natives. He also identifies a lack of engagement in education as one of the contributing causes to the shortage of passionate developers amongst the younger generations.
Citing the drastic decline in participation numbers in ICT and programming courses worldwide, Christian believes that while the problem lies in education, so to does the solution. “I decided that I wanted to do something about this myself … I thought, computers aren’t that hard, but they seem hard to people. And I thought, what we’ve got to do is take that seeming complexity and decode it into a human-understandable language, so that people can see it for its simplicity, and its beauty.”
It was from this, that Christian set up Decode; an experimental workshop and web-based hub for passionate young developers of all skill levels to learn, connect and share. While initially he found himself taking on the teacher role while he introduced his participants to the languages of the web, Christian has quickly seen passionate programmers begin to develop. “Slowly but surely, people started going down their own roads. We had rising experts coming up, trying to teach other people how to program, we had different groups going to places that I don’t actually know much about, but they do so its great that they could develop it on their own. And collaboration started to form. You could see that people were quite good at this, and were interested in going into these areas but they just hadn’t had the means to do it before.”
Armed with a proof of concept, Christian is now expanding his workshops, opening them up to anyone from the local region. He has a clear vision for decode.org.nz; to connect and motivate young developers, providing a forum for collaboration, recognition, and a means for aspiring programmers to pursue whatever path
“My vision for Decode is that a lot of people will start doing it, and that its influence will be able to help a lot of people start, to learn how to programme … If you can participate in this in some way, I implore you to do so, whether you are a programmer or not. Regardless of if you want to do something with Decode or not, you should never refrain from learning how to program. It is a skill that will prove undoubtedly useful … there is actually nothing to lose.”
Operation Christmas Child
More than 430 underprivileged children have received a very special Christmas gift thanks to the generosity of the Kristin community.
For the ninth consecutive year, Kristin took part in Operation Christmas Child, an international collection drive that asks families to fill a special shoebox full of goodies for children who would otherwise have little reason to smile during the festive season.
Simple gifts such as toys, clothing, pencils and tennis balls were crammed into the Christmas boxes, which were piled high at the front of the Kristin Chapel during Term 4.
This Christmas’ collection of 432 boxes is one of the most successful in recent years. As the first school in New Zealand to introduce Operation Christmas Child, Kristin has a long-standing relationship with the charitable organisation and in 2007 the school organised a trip to Fiji for a group of Year 12 students who volunteered with Operation Christmas Child. In recent years, the collection of gifts has been greatly supported by all areas of the school, with donations coming from Junior, Middle and Senior School families who each recognise the importance of such a special global initiative.