For one day a week this year, Jessika Stratton has swapped the chatter of her high school peers for the clatter of engines.
Like thousands of high school students, the year-12 Columba College pupil is busy preparing for NCEA exams this month.
Yet Jessika’s NCEA Level-2 workload includes a sleeves-rolled-up component: a National Certificate in Motor Industry (Foundation Skills) via the Otago Secondary-Tertiary College, a partnership between Otago Polytechnic and secondary schools in the Otago region.
OSTC is a training college that gives secondary school students a head start to achieving career-based qualifications while still at school.
The College is open to Year 11-13 secondary school students in Dunedin, Central Otago or Queenstown Lakes and enables students to combine study at Otago Polytechnic (including gaining NCEA credits) with typical school study.
Having boarded at Columba since she started in year-9, the 17-year-old Heriot-raised teenager enjoys the chance to swap the sometimes shrill surroundings of a dormitory for the purr and hum of engines.
“I’m the only girl in the class, although there was another one at the start of the year.
“I thought I’d give it a go. I had no previous experience. I had ridden motorbikes, competing in motocross when I was younger, but wanted to see if I could have a go at this.
“Mum said I should give it a go and see if I like it.
“I’ve learnt so much. The first day I came I was so scared, but I’ve made some friends here. We all get on well.”