Mitchell Bernard is Tawa-born and bred and is this year's (2010) head boy at Tawa College. The only kindergartens and schools he has ever known have been in Tawa. Some of us recall his hitting the limelight (so to speak) as "Mr McTavish" in Tawa Intermediate's production of "The Assignment" in 2005, as shown above left. He has progressed to other major roles in various Tawa College productions over the years, details of which are given further through this interview.
"Mitchell has been an excellent role model" says his principal, Murray Lucas. "He is to be commended for his initiative in setting up the Breakfast Club at school. The way he has befriended the kids has been most impressive. He is a talented young man who has embraced leadership in a positive and helpful way. Mitchell has done a very good job and grown hugely in it. As a consequence he has made Tawa College a better place."
Where were you born, Mitchell?
Where did you grow up?
Tawa. When I was two we had a year in Auckland. Came back to the same house in Tawa.
What schools have you been at?
"Do you want kindergartens as well?" Beanstalk Kindergarten, Tawa Central Kindergarten, Greenacres School, Tawa Intermediate, Tawa College.
What subjects are you doing this year at college?
Doing drama, economics, biology, classics and history.
What are you hoping to do when you leave school?
I'm applying for a scholarship to go overseas to study, to Duke University in North Carolina, doing a B.A. in drama, maybe combining that with a commerce degree, something to fall back on. "It's a big opportunity just to get out and see the world, I suppose." I'm likely to hear about it sometime next year because their [university] year starts later on. I'll probably get a head start by going to Victoria University, getting an idea of how university goes. Will do a joint commerce and B.A. degree in theatre. "I still need to see a course planner to see if that's even possible."
What does being a head student actually involve, any particular responsibilities?
First off you're a role model at the school and a role model in the community. You represent the school at events. You look out for people in the school or in the community. I hosted the school's recent Cultural Prizegiving. I've helped organise a World Vision concert with different bands playing, and a collection for the Mary Potter Hospice. Also the "golf ball drop" at the school.
What about family?
I live at home with my mum (who went to Tawa College) and dad, and have a younger sister at the College and a brother starting next year.
What are your interests/hobbies?
I do running to keep fit. Do a lot of drama - that's one of my main passions. Singing and dancing, like in the recent Tawa Music Festival. Been in a few dramatic productions. I played Prospero, a lead role in "The Tempest" [at the College this year]. In year 10 I was in "Grease". Last year in "Standing Ovation" I had a lot of fun playing the giant bird in the song "I Just Can't Wait to be King" [see pic]. I've been involved in the [school-related] Sheila Winn Shakespeare competition for four years now. I also play tennis and basketball.
What do you like about Tawa?
I've grown up in Tawa. I feel safe here. It's home. I go running in Tawa and remember last year running up through the Mexted Reserve (where I used to play cops and robbers) to a clearing up in the pine trees. The sun was setting, and the view was just beautiful.
What's not so good about Tawa?
I'm not a big fan of graffiti. It makes the place look ugly.
What is your favourite dessert?
[After thinking about this for a moment ...] My mum makes this really nice moist chocolate cake. It's simple but really good.
Favourite sports team and/or sportsperson?
I like American football. "It's kind of rugby with big pads on." I follow the Indianapolis Colts. I've been known to rush home after the first day of school at the start of the year to watch the Super Bowl. The Colts were in the Super Bowl this year after winning most of their earlier matches but they didn't play to their potential. "It wasn't close." [The New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts by 31-17 - Ed.]
Favourite musical group and/or style of music?
I like a bit of anything really, from rock music to R & B, even some Frank Sinatra.
Favourite holiday destination in New Zealand?
Hanmer Springs down south is very nice. Small, but the pools are very relaxing. And I like the mountain bike tracks.
If you could meet any two or three people (alive or dead), who would they be?
My grandpa (on my mum's side) would be the first one. "I never got to meet him." He lived in Tawa.
Wiiliam Shakespeare - "genius. Meet the man behind the works. That'd be cool."
I do classics, so Pericles. He led Athens into the Golden Age. Apparently one of the greatest leaders. "He'd be a man to meet." [Pericles lived from 495-429 BC - Ed.]
What two or three things would you take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
A reclining seat to sit on the beach on, a lot of food and beverages, all my friends - "that'd be cool."
What is one talent you would like that you do not have?
I'd like to be able to concentrate in class for the full hour!
What is one talent you have that you could not do without?
Being able to speak to people.
Any accomplishments/achievements in your life (to date) that give you much satisfaction/pride?
The overall thing that's given me the lost satisfaction is the "Breakfast Club" which I organised this year. It's before school on a Wednesday morning for any year 9 or 10 kids that need help or just want to talk. Helping make a difference in someone's life is really rewarding.
What are two or three things you would like to achieve in the years ahead?
I've always wanted to go to space, ever since I was a kid.
To become a successful actor. That would be quite an achievement. Get a couple of Oscars or Golden Globes - that'd be nice!
Maybe go to some developing countries and help out. Volunteer with World Vision and lend a hand.
Compiled October 2010.