Increasing the breadth of opportunities at Dilworth Senior Campus

Catering for a wide range of interests, talents and passions is a challenge for any school. Despite the challenging nature of the task however, the Dilworth Careers department were determined to pilot a new “Passion Projects” programme to cater for the interests of boys whose needs were not currently being met by the existing extra-curricular activities on offer.

Being a relatively small school with just over 300 boys at the Senior Campus, the Head of Careers at Dilworth, Mrs Gemma Halford understood the importance of picking the right projects to ensure the pilot year was successful. The projects picked were fashion and design, entrepreneurship and innovation and hip-hop dance.

“We picked these three passion projects because there is general feedback from the students when they come into the Careers office. They tell us about their interests and about the things that they want to get involved in, so the ideas came from the boys and feedback from the teachers,” explains Mrs Halford.

The ‘entrepreneurship and innovation’ passion project was facilitated through a programme called HeyFuture! by The Mind Lab at their campus in Grafton. The six-week programme held on Monday afternoons in Term 2, featured regular panels made up of a range of Kiwi entrepreneurs and sessions where students learnt about sustainability, human-centred design and how to effectively pitch and present an idea. The course culminated in a full-day sprint/workshop where the students were given a complex problem that they had to tackle together as a group to come up with a solution. They then had to present their solution to a panel of judges and entrepreneurs as well as their peers.


Year 11 student William Lyall who was one of the 24 Dilworth students who signed up for HeyFuture! said he learnt a lot from the experience.

“The biggest challenge when I was at The Mind Lab was probably the final project where we had to create a solution to a problem. Our group had to think about a way that we could reduce the amount of food waste at the school and come up with some sustainable solutions,” said William.

For Year 12 student, Nathan Cook who is passionate about acting and performing, signing up for the hip-hop dance class meant he would have another performing arts skill to add to his resume. The young man has a keen interest in working in television in the future and understands the importance of having experience with all aspects of the performing arts.

The weekly hip-hop classes are held on Friday mornings and are facilitated by an external expert Richie Cesan, who co-founded TMC Dance Crew and represented New Zealand at the World Hip Hop Champs.

“I feel a great sense of happiness and achievement that we have made these great dance routines. Ritchie comes up with the routine and the moves, but he expects us to put our own spin on it,” explains Nathan.

The fashion and design passion project was facilitated by Dilworth Art Teacher Ms Jenny Song. It involved the students designing and creating their own garment to be submitted to the Toi Wearable Arts Competition as part of ShowQuest. They then had to select a model to wear and present their garment on stage at Aotea Centre in front of a live audience.

Year 12 student Kale Hamilton said he signed up for the project because he was interested in fashion and art and because he had never seen an all-boys wearable arts group before so wanted to make an impression. For Year 12 student Rhythm Hemehema, the reason for signing up was to get out of his comfort zone and experience something new.

“Our garment had a biomimicry design focus, using nature’s influence. We decided to use aquatic life, especially a scyphozoa or jellyfish as inspiration,” said Rhythm.

“The boys won the regional award for excellence in story-telling for their garment. They also won the national senior creative photo challenge where they had to take photographs of their garment and submit just one photograph. I am incredibly proud of them and their achievements,” said Ms Song.

“When we won the regional award on the night, I was quite happy and proud of myself and the group for what we achieved,” explains Rhythm.

As a pilot year, Mrs Halford is reasonably happy with how the passions projects have gone.  Although there were challenges with juggling the existing extra-curricular commitments of some of the boys, it’s proved to be a positive experience for the majority of the boys involved.

“This year has taught us that our boys have different interests and it’s great if we can cater for different needs. We’ll gain feedback from the boys and the teachers involved of what worked well and try and feed that into the future. We’ll also be able to hopefully evolve with the boys’ interest over time and ensure that we continue to cater for changing interests.”

September 1, 2021