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'Find solutions to make the best of it', says KZN matriculant who soared above Covid-19 and the July unrest

Matric achievers, back from left, Yash Panday of Crawford International College North Coast, with Ruhi Rugbeer and Andrew Williams of Crawford International College La Lucia and front left, Daniella Samouilhan, Shannah Steele and Erin Lombard of St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls, all earned places on the IEB’s outstanding achievements list for 2021. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Matric achievers, back from left, Yash Panday of Crawford International College North Coast, with Ruhi Rugbeer and Andrew Williams of Crawford International College La Lucia and front left, Daniella Samouilhan, Shannah Steele and Erin Lombard of St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls, all earned places on the IEB’s outstanding achievements list for 2021. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 19, 2022

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL matric pupils from the Class of 2021 excelled and soared above the stress and uncertainty of two years of Covid-19 and last year’s July unrest to achieve excellent marks.

Yash Panday, of Crawford International College North Coast, said the final exams were difficult and there was a lot of pressure that was compounded by the pandemic.

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“Covid-19 and the unrest did make it a bit more difficult, but I believe that there is no point in complaining about a bad situation. Instead, you need to find solutions to make the best of it,” he said.

He added it was important to have a balanced life, and his parents made sure of that. His advice to the class of 2022 is matric is a lot of hard work, which requires a lot of commitment and discipline.

He will be studying medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal or Wits University.

Mira Pillay, of Crawford International College La Lucia, said her final exams went really well.

However, she said Covid-19 and online learning had made it harder.

“I felt constant stress due to this, which affected my ability to concentrate on school,” she said.

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Her advice for this year’s matrics was: “Stay calm and do not forget to take care of yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of getting good marks, but mental health and a balanced lifestyle is more important.”

She added she was heading to Cape Town in a couple of weeks, to study medicine at UCT.

Also from Crawford La Lucia, Ruhi Rugbeer said the matric year went by very quickly. She said she started studying a month in advance and that getting eight hours of sleep daily was key.

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“My mom always made sure she was there for me, and I am grateful. It was a community effort with friends, teachers and family always making sure that I was okay.”

She added the July unrest was particularly traumatic as she had heard gunshots daily, and heard one of the chemical explosions.

“Luckily my teachers and the school were very helpful during that time. They allowed us to take a few days off,” she said. She will be studying medicine at UCT.

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Andrew Williams, 18, also of Crawford La Lucia, said all exams were tricky, the key was to be prepared. He said having gone through the adjustment of school with Covid-19 in Grade 11 helped him better prepare for Grade 12. However, he said the unrest was challenging because it happened just before the trial exams.

“There were questions of how long it would go on for and if exams would be pushed back. No one knew what to expect, which made it more stressful.”

He plans to study mechatronic engineering at Stellenbosch University.

Megan Turner, 19, of St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls in Kloof, said although the final exams were by no means easy, through hard work and perseverance she had made it through.

She said both the pandemic and the unrest had contributed to the stress and anxiety of her matric year.

“Although I was able to cope with online learning it was still very disruptive as we were unable to predict when the next wave was going to hit the country, and whether we would be able to work at school during this period. The unrest resulted in almost a week of school being cancelled.”

Megan said her mother also had to have a surgery in June, while she was writing exams.

“This brought a lot of emotional strain and really affected me as I had to help out my dad with looking after my younger brother, while still studying and working hard,” she said.

Her advice for the class of 2022 is to take one day at a time, and to try to enjoy the ride.

Megan will be studying actuarial science at Stellenbosch University.

Another St Mary’s pupil, Erin Lombard, 19, said while the final exams were long and stressful, she had done her best. She said she was fortunate because her school had adapted well to online learning.

“We were able to easily transition from being on and off campus and our school made sure that we did not lose any learning time,” she said.

She added going for walks and reading helped calm her during finals.

Erin has been conditionally accepted to study medicine at UCT.

Shannah Steele, 18, also of St Mary’s, said the final exams were different from the trial exams. She commended her school for having pre-recorded lessons with access to notes. “We could contact the teachers at any time of the day, and they would respond,” she said.

She said she spent time training her two dogs, cooking and baking to relax. She will be studying chemical engineering at Stellenbosch University.

Daniella Samouilhan, 18, also of St Mary’s, said some papers during her final exams were better than others.

She said her school had online learning every day. However, she added that she did not really enjoy online learning.

“I found it hard to stay motivated and it was much better when we went back to in-person learning,” she said. She added that to relax she loved spending time with friends, being outdoors at the beach and horse riding.

Daniella plans to study medicine at the University of Pretoria this year.

THE MERCURY

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