THE Gayathri Peedam of South Africa, an international centre for spiritual awakening in Brindhaven, Verulam hosted its fifth annual awards at the Kraydeb Conference centre in Everest Heights on 28 January.The function was held under the auspices of the Gayathri Peedam Education Desk and honoured the academic achievements of the children and young adults of the organisation from preschool to university graduates and post- graduates.Pupils from Glenhaven Secondary, Verulam Secondary, Temple Valley Secondary, Mountview Secondary and Trenance Park Secondary did exceptionally well in the 2016 examinations. Verulam Secondary received 95.63% and emerged as the top performing school in the 2016 national senior certificate examination followed by Mountview with 92.27%) and Trenance Park by 90.53% in the Verulam area.The organisation also rewarded the top three pupils from each of these schools for their academic excellence. Principal of Verulam Secondary Siva Govender was beaming as his pupils Sameera Alli and Mikaila Olivier earned first and second positions in the category of top pupils in the 2016 NSCE in the Verulam area.Siphesihle Mtshali from Mountview Secondary finished in third place.For the first time the top Grade 7 pupils from Redcliffe Primary, Everest Heights Primary, Dianthus Primary and Verulam Primary were honoured as dux in their respective schools.The evening, however, belonged to Taryn Govender from Danville Girls who obtained distinctions in English, Afrikaans, maths, life orientation, accounting, life sciences and physical sciences. For her performance Taryn got a personal message from Swami Shankarananda Maharaj, the spiritual master of the Gayathri Peedam and a Mont Blanc pen from the Swami’s personal collection. With a 94% aggregate it came as no surprise that the South African Actuaries Development Programme awarded Taryn a full bursary to study actuarial science at the University of Cape Town.