Durban - Achieving his dream of being a top matric achiever, Jarrod Staples from Westville Boys’ High School was invited to Gauteng Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s event for star performers in Pretoria on Thursday.
Staples, who got eight distinctions, said his matric year was a roller coaster with ups and downs but he worked consistently throughout the year.
“It brings out the best of your free time because you learn to appreciate the time you spend with your friends. I might not see them again,” he said.
Staples said it had been his goal to be the top achiever at his school: “I ended up reaching my goal and it was very exciting.”
The teen, who wants to study chemical engineering at the University of Pretoria, said he had to strike a balance between school work, extra-murals and free time.
His advice for this year’s matrics: “Work hard and make sacrifices. Have a goal in mind and find the passion to reach it.”
Durban High School’s Shay Naidoo, who received seven distinctions, said his matric year was the first time he pushed himself.
“Although I pushed myself, I really enjoyed my year and the experience has allowed me to grow as a person,” Naidoo said.
The future medical student said a highlight of the past year was taking fourth place in his school during prize giving and achieving a 90% aggregate.
Naidoo said this year’s matric students should not take the year too seriously although it was important.
“It’s when you start thinking about the work that you put pressure on yourself and it leads to a deterioration in performance,” he said.
Kiaav Sunderlall, who got eight distinctions and is from Northwood High, said the year had been tough.
“It was a very busy year, we fought our way through,” he said.
He added that he managed the stress and workload by playing his favourite musical instruments, guitar, piano and drums. He wants to study medicine at Wits University or the University of Pretoria.
Northwood High pupil, Marco Mudaly, who got seven distinctions, said working from day one was very important.
“It was a very good year that I prepared the most for and worked from the beginning of the year,” he said.
Mudaly’s advice for this year’s students was work hard, focus and take time to relax.
David Moodley from Durban High School, who got seven distinctions, said his matric year was a “little hard” with assessments throughout the year.
“With hard work and prayer, you can get through anything,” he said.
Moodley’s advice, which he hopes helps future pupils, is to plan in advance for matric.
“From the first day of school we had to plan and work hard consistently,” he said.
Another pupil invited to Motshekga’s event was Bongumenzi Ndlovu from Osizweni in Newcastle.
Ndlovu, from Zama High, said he studied day and night to achieve his results. He said studying hard helped him achieve good marks.
“I would ask my father to wake me up to study, I spent weekends at school studying because I want to be a doctor,” he said.
He achieved seven distinctions and wants to be a heart surgeon because there are so few in the country.
He said he had applied for funding to study through the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation and through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and so far he had not received any responses.
His father, Sipho Ndlovu, said at one point he was concerned about Bongumenzi’s studying habits and he went to complain about it to the school principal.
“He calmed me down saying that it was better I was concerned that my child was studying too much, some parents were worried about their children who were not studying,” Ndlovu senior said.
He said Bongumenzi had always done well in school and had won medals.
“I do not have money to pay for his studies at a university in Cape Town where he has applied to study medicine. I do not want him to sit at home, I want him to achieve his dream as he loves studying.” - Additional Reporting Mhlengi Shangase