by Chris Tobin
For the first time in Timaru Boys’ High School’s 138-year history, twins have won the school’s highest academic awards.
Thomas Valentine is the school’s dux for 2018 and his twin, William, is proxime accessit, or runner-up.
Everyone had made “a big deal” of the 18-year-olds’ success “but we didn’t know we would get it – I told myself it didn’t matter,” William said.
Thomas said the possibility of their double success had been on his mind throughout the year.
Finally achieving it, was “a big thing”.
They put their success down to hard work.
“We put a lot of effort into study. It depends on the time of the year but we spend 10 hours a day on schoolwork. Not always study – it’s also working on assignments,” William said.
“There’s a lot of competition between us.”
“But it’s not negative competition,” Thomas said.
“We don’t argue.”
“If I struggle, Thomas helps me. It’s always been that way,” William said.
“At school we end up helping quite a few with their schoolwork,” Thomas said.
Timaru Boys’ High School rector Nick McIvor said the boys’ achievement was extremely rare, making it all the more special.
“The staff who’ve taught and supported them over the last five years are very proud of how far they’ve come – as their family is too.”
The twins’ subjects have included physics, digital technology and graphics – William did chemistry also – but their favourite has been maths.
Both completed university courses in maths.
“No-one’s prouder. They’re very good boys and have worked hard.”
“It [maths] has always been the main thing since primary school. We’ve always wanted to do well in it,” William said.
Asked why they were so keen on maths, Thomas said it was the logic of it “and you don’t have to do a lot of writing”.
However, it’s not all endless hours of swot.
The twins play in the school band – William on trombone and Thomas on clarinet – and they compete in athletics.
From the age of 8 they have been members of the South Canterbury Athletics Club and competed in the Colgate Games when they were younger.
They are coached by Ian Baird, who guided world champion shot putter Tom Walsh, a Timaru Boys’ High School old boy, in his early years, and many others.
Thomas placed third in the national senior boys’ hammer throw at the New Zealand secondary schools championships last year and will compete later this month in the championships in Dunedin.
William placed fifth in the discus last year and hopes to achieve a similar placing this year.
Their parents, Robyn, a part-time administrator, and Peter Valentine, a policeman on traffic duty in the Mackenzie and around South Canterbury, are delighted.
“No-one’s prouder. They’re very good boys and have worked hard,” Mrs Valentine said.
“They’re either studying or at athletics. It’s hours and hours of study. They don’t go to parties.”
Mrs Valentine said she was glad the boys had gone to Timaru Boys’ High School.
“We chose Boys’ High so they could get into the accelerated class for maths.”
The Valentines’ daughter, Sophie, is in year 11 at Timaru Girls’ High School.
“Sophie’s quite clever too, although she doesn’t like maths as much as Thomas.”
Mrs Valentine said they were looking forward to seeing where the twins’ careers would take them.
There will be a big adjustment next year when William goes to Canterbury University to study computer science and maths, while Thomas heads to Auckland University to study maths.
“It might be good,” said William. “It’s hard to say.”
Both were uncertain what direction their careers would take after their studies ended.
“There are lots of options. I expect I could get a job writing code,” William said.
Thomas said he would definitely go on to do postgraduate study, possibly followed by maths research.
As for Mrs Valentine, she said the twins would be missed but “the washing and food [preparation] I won’t miss”.