Competition among her peers motivated King David High School Linksfield matriculant Ava Cohen to bring home eight distinctions.
The 18-year-old told News24 that she always pushed herself to achieve as much as she can. So, it was natural that she wanted to strive to get good results.
She achieved distinctions in Accounting, Afrikaans, English, Hebrew, History, Life Orientation, Mathematics, and Dramatic Arts.
Her dream is to become a successful businesswoman, either as an entrepreneur or in advertising.
“I also want to make a contribution to greater society,” she said.
But Cohen has not yet decided what she wants to study at university.
She will be taking a gap year after school to grow as a person and think about what she wants to do.
“I would classify myself as a procrastinator, so I crammed a lot of the workload a few days before the exam. But luckily, I listened in class and I retain information easily, so most of my studying was purely revision. Additionally, my school was very efficient at helping us revise and making sure our studying was on track.
“My parents wanted me to do well for myself but there were no expectations from their end. This took the pressure off having to do well. They would have supported me regardless of the results I achieved. They also encouraged me to participate in extra-murals which helped me maintain a healthy balance in my school life,” she said.
Cohen praised teachers at the school for going the extra mile when assisting pupils.
“Any teacher would give of their time to make sure students were completely content with the syllabus. I really do appreciate my school for the nurturing attitude of the teachers, who encouraged me to reach my full potential and make the most of my school career.”
The school achieved 552 distinctions in 2019 from 147 pupils, with an average 3.75% per pupil.
Biomedical scientist hopeful, Ariel Kraitzick, 18, said hard work helped him to net eight distinctions in Afrikaans, English, History, Life Orientation, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Advanced Programme English.
Kraitzick said his secret to success was to give it his all – both academically and in his day-to-day activities.
“I want to prove to myself that I am able to accomplish my goals. I want to succeed in my career while being able to help others in the process. I want to travel and explore the world. I would love to publish a novel or a book of poetry. I also hope to find someone I love and build a family.
“I am hoping to study biomedical science and do research in the medical field – possibly in genetics or neuroscience,” he said.
Kraitzick started preparing for his matric exams a month earlier.
He went through past question papers and summarised them.
“I would study throughout the day but would always stop before eight at night so I could relax with my family. My parents were very supportive but also very laidback. They trusted me to study as much as I thought was enough and never put pressure on me or forced me to study.
“My mother was a big help as I would practise my definitions, dates and more off by heart, learning with her. When I felt stressed, I would also go to chat to her and instantly feel relieved and be able to study again,” he said.
Following the pack is Saul Fihrer, who achieved six distinctions in English, Accounting, Computer Applications Technology, Geography, History, and Life Orientation.
Fihrer attended Bellavista Primary School from grades 1 to 7. He later went to King David Linksfield High School.
In Grade 11, Fihrer published a book titled Life is More Interesting Inside My Head.
Fihrer attributed his success to both his schools, saying they instilled grit and determination in him, but also taught him to never be scared to ask for help, nor to be afraid of failure.
“Bellavista and King David Linksfield also taught me to pursue my dreams. Fortunately, I have exceptional parents who have inspired and supported me in every aspect of my life.
“They also encouraged me to dream as big as I wanted but in order to actualise my dreams, they stressed that dreams needed to be backed up by hard work and determination. During matric, I learnt that slow, steady and constant work wins the race,” said Fihrer.
Noah Apteker, 18, who is heading to the United States, achieved six distinctions in English, Hebrew, Accounting, Mathematics, Life Orientation, and Physical Sciences.
Apteker intends to study Electrical Engineering in the US and hopes to later do an MBA before returning to SA.
He said he was driven and determined to succeed and hoped to one day become an independent and successful entrepreneur.
“In addition, I have friends who are all very gifted academically and my exposure to them has contributed to my drive to do well and to keep up with the pace that they set. While I am not entirely set on which career path to pursue, I hope to be involved in the corporate world one day.
“I made sure I had set aside enough time to study for each subject. If there was a section of work I did not understand, I made sure to ask friends or teachers to explain it to me until I understood. Once I had substantially covered each section, I moved onto past papers until the day of the exam,” he said.
Apteker said his parents have always encouraged him to do well and also reminded him of his abilities to achieve great results.
“At the same time, they gave me the space to manage my studying and they never put pressure on me to get back to work. This helped to create a relaxed environment for me, and this was conducive to minimising the stress I felt and allowed me to focus on studying.
“King David High School Linksfield has always been a school with an incredibly strong sense of community and closeness. The teachers are always approachable and are willing to help and they always encourage students to achieve their best potential.
“The school has also always had a history of academic excellence and this has motivated me to uphold this reputation. This is also a testament to those in charge of the school who always maintain this exceptional academic rigour.
“I am extroverted and passionate. In every aspect of my life, I always strive for the best. When learning new things, I always dive in headfirst and dissect each tiny detail by asking questions in order for me to best understand the topic,” Apteker said.