Front row: Sibusiso Maseko, Hannah Brown and Caleb Isaacs, and back row: Mashudu Raphadana, Onthatile Zulu, André Fouché and Andrea Jardim, from Cornwall Hill College. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
André Fouché is partially deaf from the time he constantly listened to music with his earphones at the age of four to five. In his time at school he had challenges with learning, finding it hard to keep up with the teacher, but, he said, being a visual learner helped.

He also mastered the art of self-studying, something he said that helped him get great results, and made him an above-average pupil, propelling him to top spots and allowing him to receive distinctions as he went along.

“My only sore spot is English,” he conceded, saying that he had, however, been practising and aimed to pass the subject in his final year in high school.

His trick, he said, was using previous question papers, and this was how he knew he could achieve his goal of pursuing a career in mechanical and electronic engineering.

“I am the top engineering achiever at this school,” he said, adding that he hoped for seven distinctions.

Onthatile Zulu from Equestria Estate boasted of being the best hockey player at the school, having started playing the sport when she was just six.

She spoke of a game when her school was pitted against Australia in 2016, and said it “was the time of her life”.

Unlike other pupils, the 18-year-old said she did not apply to study at any university, but was approached to study at California University, the University of Virginia, and also got a call from the University of Pretoria: “I didn’t know that universities get to call you and ask that you to join them. It feels like I’m living the dream,” she said. Before schools closed she had not chosen which institution she would go to but said she wanted to study international business management.

Caleb Isaacs is the academic top achiever at Cornwall Hill, and he said it was all about time management.

The 18-year-old wanted to study medicine, and applied to the universities of Pretoria, Wits and Stellenbosch, but said he was leaning towards studying at Tuks as it was closer to home.

Mamelodi lad Sibusiso Maseko was 17 when he sat his exams and said he played a game of cricket just before he sat for his first paper: “I received a scholarship which brought me to Cornwall Hill College.”

He said initially, his father didn’t want him to play cricket, but soon accepted his love for the sport after seeing how much into it he was.

He said he wanted to study teaching at Tuks or Unisa.

“I want to be a teacher, because when I first started at Cornwall Hill, my family could not assist me with my school work, and also because I like to help others wherever they need help.

“I saw first-hand that teaching was one of the things that can help.

"This is what got me through the first few months here,” Maseko said.