Hello, I am a former student of Mount Albert Grammar and these are my thoughts on each question:
There are clubs for sports, dance cultural groups, debating, robotics, welfare committee, chess club, creative writing and more; there is a huge range of extra-curricular activities available and the majority of them are free for anybody to join (sports, for example, will cost money for uniforms, equipment etc). Any clubs that are not pre-existing could be created if there is proven sufficient interest from the student body and a teacher is able to supervise or represent the club (there must always be a teacher representative for every club).
-Leadership and volunteer opportunities
There is Peer Mediation for resolving student conflict, Peer Support for looking after the junior students as year 13s. In your final year of high school, you may also be chosen to be a prefect if a student has done many extra-curricular activities throughout their high school life and has been recognised to possess leadership potential in some form or another (generally they look for leaders in each of the categories for arts, sports, service and academic). Prefects tend to run the large clubs in the school, such as the Student Action Group (where students raise concerns about the school and any changes that they would like to be made), Academic Council, INTERACT, Amnesty International and the like. The prefects then have weekly meetings throughout the year, where they project the student voice to the principal and main staff members.
Volunteering and leadership opportunities are also open within clubs – for example, the environmental committee has hosted a few tree-planting volunteering events at Motutapu Island. With regards to academics, there is also a free tutoring service that you may take up. You may also be a librarian for the school and help out during lunchtimes (this particular opportunity should be taken up early on as a year 9 or 10, as older year newbies are generally not accepted). All service done for the school as collated to contribute towards a potential service lion award.
Speaking of lion awards, there are 4 lions or badges that may be awarded – arts, sports, scholar and service.
-Academic structure (curriculum / how are classes categorised/streamed
In year 9 and 10, the classes are streamed – top 3, and the rest are mixed classes.
There is a great academic structure and there are many opportunities to develop and challenge one’s capabilities if they would like to; there is the MAX programme that can be taken, which is a university course for excelling mathematics high school students. My mathematics has been built extremely well by the fantastic teachers and accelerated math courses. I was given the option to sit scholarship calculus in Year 11, which I would never have expected to get the award for had I never been given the chance to recognise that potential to. This goes the same for the sciences, although only one paper was a year higher in level. Scholarship classes also run for the scholarship examinations at the end of the year. MAGS sits NCEA papers.
-School tradition and culture
There are Interform class competitions for junior years to encourage teamwork and school tradition. The school culture is hard to miss as “The MAGS Way” is pasted all around the walls of the school. There are values such as “aim for excellence,” “value education,” “respect oneself” and the like. Uniform is also heavily weighted in the school, and there are detentions handed out if a student is not properly dressed or not punctual when attending class.
Every week, there is an assembly which always involves everybody standing up and singing the national anthem and school song – then bowing their heads for the principal or a prefect to say the school prayer.
-Social aspect / inclusivity
The school is multicultural and welcomes diversity through cultural clubs and events hosted specially for international students. Exchange students are also always given a buddy to improve their visit experience. There is the ball in Year 13, which costs just over $100 to attend. Many music and social events are also hosted; there have been quad concerts within the school for music students and dance groups, bake sales to fundraise for different clubs and charities, as well as the prefect slave auction day.
Counselling area, workshop area for tech students, auditorium with a mezzanine floor, dance rooms, sports fields and tuck shop. There is also the learning centre for those who have special needs during examinations. The library is the best place for studying as classes are usually locked during lunchtimes unless there is a club event or meeting going on, or it is a wet lunch. One weakness while I was there was that the toilets were not the best, however they were renovated since then and it does not seem to be a problem anymore. There is still a lack of shelter for students during days of light rain. There is a school house for male students, and currently they are building another for female students. There is also a farm.
-Anything else applicable/useful
The school last I have checked valued sports greatly, and much more over anything else. Arts achievements were poorly recognised, however it has been said by current students that this is changing.
What are the best parts about attending Mount Albert Grammar School? In addition, what are some of the weaknesses (if any).
Best parts are the academic structure and volunteering + club opportunities available for students to grow. Compared to private schools, there is also a smaller pressure on students to compete with others as there is a great social focus within the school alongside everything else.
One weakness that I had felt, however, was the hierarchy that was unintentionally built up from the ranking systems. For example, although a prefect’s sole position was meant to be taking up different school responsibilities, they were also given many privileges, such as their own microwave and kettle and set of lockers etc. This led a few complaints from students who found it unfair that they were deemed ‘better’ than any other student in the school when they should be viewed as equal. Another weakness could also have been the injustice experienced by many arts students, whose voice was often almost deliberately not heard by the main heads of the school.
What are some of the reasons for me to choose Mount Albert Grammar School over other top Auckland schools?
Academic structure enables growth, there are many clubs of all shapes and sizes. On top of that, there are great teachers that shape the school and there is a great mags spirit involved.
With most of the teachers I have encountered at school, potential is very easily recognised and changes may be made if a student is persistent and able to push an idea through. If there is a club that does not exist and that you would like to create, it is possible to raise that with teachers or departments.
Hope this helps!