25 Aug 2015
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Auckland highschool students amongst top ranks at world Microsoft champs

By Shannon Williams

Students from Auckland’s Avondale College have placed in the top ten in their various categories at the world finals of the Microsoft Office Specialist championships.

The three students beat out more than 500,000 other competitors. This is the second straight year Avondale College students placed in the top ten.

The international competition attracted more than 600,000 competitors from 145 countries, including many from universities and other tertiary providers. 

One hundred and forty five participants made it to the finals, which were held in Dallas in August, and following the New Zealand final, (in which Avondale students won 11 of the top 12 places), six of these international competitors were from Avondale College.

Ellen Greenly (18) came ninth in Microsoft Word 2010; Azizul Islam (16) placed ninth in PowerPoint 210; and Di Kun Ong (16), ninth in PowerPoint 2013. 

The school explains the students hadn’t come through an official Microsoft course, and instead have all been part of the college’s Innovation Programme, where Microsoft applications are just one small part of the platforms they use every day to solve real-world challenges.

Teacher Paul McClean attributes the students’ success to their ability to think holistically and apply intuitive and creative solutions to complex problems while under pressure.

“These astonishing kids are going from strength to strength, “ says McClean. “And not by learning productivity tools or even other technologies, but by relishing the chance to think.  This is having a heartwarming and profound effect on shaping their values, skills, and importantly, how they see the world.”

A change to quota rules meant that with only two weeks to go, the Avondale students found out that they couldn’t compete in their preferred application.

McClean says the students took it all in their stride, determined to make the most of every opportunity – whether that was performing well under the intense exam-room pressure; connecting with other students from around the world; or sprinting from location to location in a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing spree.

“It’s a good feeling to be placed in the top ten in the world,” says Year 12 student Azizul Islam. “And now we really want to strive to do even better next year.”

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