Local school stands out

2020-01-14 06:01
Gary Allen, Madelein Dippenaar, Anuoluwa Makinde and and Tim Murphy.

Gary Allen, Madelein Dippenaar, Anuoluwa Makinde and and Tim Murphy.

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The release of the 2019 matric results generated a buzz in the media this past week with a lot of the attention falling on one school in particular: Rondebosch Boys’ High School.

While the outstanding achievements of two of the school’s learners – Gary Allen and Tim Murphy – were mostly responsible for the hype, it also served to highlight the school’s excellent matric pass rate.

For the twelfth year, the schools’ matric learners achieved a 100% pass rate and a 98.7% university entrance rate. Together, the school’s 162 candidates achieved a record 468 A symbols.

Nine of these A’s belongs to Gary who came second nationally among the Quintile 5 schools. Other top candidates were Madelein Dippenaar from Paarl Gimnasium High School, who was number one in the country, and Anuoluwa Makinde from Milnerton High School, who came in third.

Gary says he first heard he was among the top achievers on 2 January. He had just eaten out with friends at a sushi restaurant in Noordhoek and was in the car on his way home when his cellphone rang.

He wasn’t told yet that he was second in the country, just that he was one of the top achievers who were being invited (with two of his parents or guardians) to attend a prize-giving ceremony at the Vodacom World Conference Venue in Gauteng on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 January.

Gary says he was overwhelmed when he received the news. He got home, rang the doorbell and immediately shared the news with his dad and mom, Spencer and Charleen Allen.

“I couldn’t conceptualise it. I walked around for a good 15 minutes, just letting it sink it. You work so hard throughout the year but you don’t expect something like this.”

He and his parents were flown up to Midrand and accommodated at the Premier Hotel for two nights where they and the other top achievers got to rub shoulders with industry leaders and ministers.

“It was all a bit crazy, you feel like a celebrity, interacting with all the top guys. At a breakfast on 7 January, I sat at the same table as the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga. It was so cool meeting all these people.”

What is also “cool” in People’s Post’s opinion is Gary’s final matric results: English home language: 94%; Afrikaans first additional language: 94%; mathematics: 100%; life orientation: 92%; physical sciences: 99%; information technology: 100%; engineering graphics and design: 95%; accounting: 95% and advanced programme mathematics: 95%.

Gary’s secret to his academic success is simple. He says he paid attention in class throughout the year to ensure he understood all the work when he got to the finals.

“Anything I didn’t understand, I would watch videos on. And I did as many past papers as I could, compared my answers to the marking memos, and learnt from my mistakes. I did that for almost all my subjects,” he says.

Although the government’s website has past papers for matriculants to use, Gary says his go-to website for past papers was Parent24.

“It is just much easier to navigate.”

His next port of call is Stellenbosch University where he will be studying electrical engineering.

“I hope to do my masters after I have completed the course but I’m not 100 percent sure at the moment. I would love to combine my studies with electronic music production, another passion of mine,” Gary says.

Tim, the top mathematics candidate in the country, will be studying closer to home.

He will begin his studies in actuarial science at the University of Cape Town this year.

“I’m looking forward to university, to being challenged and getting stuck in proper maths – the big stuff,” he says.

Tim says he always had an affinity for maths. 

“One of my distinct memories from Grade R was being proud that I could count to 100. I always enjoyed maths – it is probably the definitiveness of it. When it comes to language, there isn’t always an exact answer, but with maths, even though there isn’t one correct way to get to it, there is always one right answer. Most of the time,” he adds.

Tim says he was at home, playing Stardew Valley, a simulation role-playing video game, when he got the call from the Department of Basic Education, inviting him and his parents, Paul and Samantha Murphy, to Midrand.

“Thinking back, I actually feel a bit embarrassed because my voice got all shaky on the phone,” he shares. 

He says that although there was excitement in the house all-round, they were also shocked at the news.

“That night I only got about two hours of sleep. I kept on thinking, ‘Wow, this is actually happening – out of so many people who wrote, you came out at the top’,” says Tim. 

He too greatly enjoyed the two days spent in Gauteng during the prize-giving ceremony. Tim says he found his fellow top achievers inspiring.

“It was great meeting all the top achievers from around the country, many of them with backgrounds different from my own.”

Even though Tim is a maths whizz, he isn’t exactly sure how the department calculates who is the top achiever of all of the matric learners who got 100% for maths.

“My school-based assessment mark was pretty high going in, so I assume they most likely look at who has the highest combined score,” he says.

His results for his other subjects are English home language: 85%; Afrikaans first additional language: 81%; life orientation: 87%; accounting: 96%; information technology: 97%; physical sciences: 97% and AP maths: 94%. 

Tim ascribes his math pass rate to a combined study approach.

“I always did past papers, I think that is how everybody does it, but I also combined self-study with group-study. My group of friends got together and we worked on past papers. Not all are top math achievers, so it was a win-win for all of us. I could help them with difficult equations and I saw different approaches to questions and got to work on some of the easier stuff where you can make stupid mistakes.”

His maths teacher, Susan Carletti, is another driving force behind his achievement.

“I am so grateful to have been taught by Mrs Carletti who was my math teacher for the past five years. She is really the one who set me on this path. Being at the top in a subject, you can become unmotivated. When you get 95%, it is easy to start to think, ‘That is okay, I don’t have to try harder, I already have the university entry mark’. She inspired me to push for the good marks,” Tim says.

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