In one last attempt to motivate matriculants a mere three days before the National Senior Certificate examinations commenced, the grade 12s of Khanyolwethu Secondary School were implored to give their all in their preparations, revision and writing of the finals.The annual valedictory ceremony was held in the school hall on Friday 12 October. The examinations started on Monday 15 October.Dressed in ceremonial black graduation gowns, the learners sat quietly as speaker after speaker shared words of encouragement with them. From time to time they clapped and danced as gospel music reverberated through the speakers. Thembinkosi Gadini, the guest speaker, urged learners to not let their struggles become their identity.He further said the youths should not depend on situations but be themselves, but implored them to strive towards success. “This is what we call your secondary education. Life will not be as safe after you leave this level,” Gadini said.“[It] all now depends on your thinking. I urge you all to be aware of your thinking.”Gadini also told the learners to not let their current circumstances dictate their lives and they should rise above these circumstances. “Be careful of what you feed your mind at all times. This is the time to focus until the end,” he said.The staff and Grade 12 learners of Khanyolwethu have set themselves the target of achieving an 80% pass rate this year – a 3% increase from their 2017 results (“Matrics brace for final exams, City Vision, 11 October).School principal Eric Titipane said he did not want to put any unnecessary pressure on the learners but, at the same time, they hope to improve from last year’s results. He added that it is now time for learners to go out and implement what they have learnt. Titipane also urged learners to refrain from cheating, eat healthy and keep their minds and bodies fit through exercise during this critical period.Sipho Mfazwe, a representative of Boland College and former learner of the school, also addressed the learners, urging them to make the necessary sacrifices during this time and look beyond their grade 12 qualification.“You need to discipline yourself and visualise what you want to be or do in five years. Be positive and have a plan; being without a plan can only lead to disaster,” said Mfazwe, adding that learners should prepare well and wished them well.Teacher Saphokazi Tshikini thanked the learners for their perseverance thus far and said the school had nothing more of material value to give the learners, other than words to empower them going forward.