Emily Macgregor, from St Andrew’s School for Girls, achieved nine distinctions despite battling debilitating migraines. Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA)
In Grade 11, Emily Macgregor learnt that even when she was focused on being successful academically, her health came first.

Emily, a learner from St Andrew’s School for Girls, in Bedfordview, has learnt to find a balance between the two. She suffers from migraines.

She said Grade 11 was a struggle and so, in her matric year, she decided to work on having more balance in her life.

“It’s hard to balance. I use a diary to plan my time. I also get bad migraines so if I get really stressed, then I get bad headaches all the time. I have to be careful with it.

“In Grade 11, I didn’t manage my stress very well and that put a lot of pressure on me. I got very ill in the final exams.

“In matric, I decided to work very hard to achieve my goals, but I decided I wasn’t going to stress myself.”

She said she had to be strict with herself to achieve her goals.

“In matric, I needed to take care of my physical health more. Unless it was something that counted for more than 50% of the grade, I wouldn’t do it if it hadn’t been done by 9.30pm.

“If homework wasn’t finished, that was too bad. I would just go to sleep. At that point it meant more to me to not be in pain. It turned out fine and my marks improved. I was valedictorian for my class,” Emily said.

The balance has led to her achieving nine distinctions - in English, Afrikaans, life orientation, history, life sciences, maths, physical science, AP (advanced placement) maths and AP English.

To celebrate the end of her matric year, Emily toured Europe. “When on the tour, I kind of forgot about the matric results. Once I came back, I remembered,” she laughed.

Emily and her classmates have continued the school’s record of great academic achievement.

This is the 30th year in a row it has achieved a 100% pass rate.

Ninety-six percent of girls achieved a university exemption and the class has 243 As.

Another top performer at the school is Vivian Yan, who also achieved nine distinctions.

She achieved them in English, isiZulu, life orientation, accounting, business studies, maths, music, physical science and AP maths.