Sunday 22 April 2018

High-scoring pupil studied every week night and every Saturday for a year

Education Minister Richard Bruton said there were a number of improvements in the Leaving Cert figures
Education Minister Richard Bruton said there were a number of improvements in the Leaving Cert figures

A pupil who may have got the top marks in the country in the Leaving Certificate took no grinds but studied every week night and every Saturday for a year.

Jack Synnott, from Termonfeckin, Co Louth, turns 18 next week and is already plotting a career in journalism, once he takes Law and Politics in Trinity College.

His was one of the 13 top students and opened his results at St Oliver's Community College in Drogheda to find eight grade ones at higher level and a grade three in a ninth subject.

And one of his top ambitions is to find out if he came first in the class of 2017.

"Oh definitely," he said.

"I'm very competitive. When the principal told me that I could have the highest in the country I got very excited."

Jack and his parents Grainne and Michael took the decision not to take grinds as he set a target to push himself to see what he could achieve on his own.

"I really wanted to challenge myself going into sixth year and see how much I could achieve," he said.

"I just kept pushing myself to see how much I could do on my own.

"The teachers at St Oliver's were so great.

Jack's study timetable included opening his school books at 4.10pm at home Monday to Friday and working until 10pm, with a stop for tea.

He also clocked in at 9am on a Saturday and worked until 5pm.

"I usually took Sundays off," he said.

And if there was any spare time left over after that regime Jack was heavily involved in the local youth theatre society until Easter and helped to write a play about mental health titled All Out and Over.

John Halpin, principal of St Oliver's, said: "He's a remarkable young man. He got the results himself.

"He and his parents took the decision to see how far he could go.

"They decided that whatever ability he had he would eke it out himself.

"It makes my job, the job of teachers, worthwhile."

While no-one managed to secure the highest marks in nine subjects, a studious group of school leavers scored 90% or more in eight of their classes.

Some 58,543 students received their results with analysis showing they were largely in line with recent years.

And with the focus on top academic achievers on results day, Mr Halpin also noted the success of another student, Lithuanian-born Zygimantas "Ziggy" Tvarijonavicius who excelled in four technical subjects largely due to the high quality of his project work.

"Incidents like that when I see someone with talent, working hard, developing skills and he was able to focus on all these at the same time - that brings great satisfaction," the principal said.

"Ziggy's obviously going to be a master craftsman of some variety."

Fifty pupils scored Grade One in seven subjects; another 130 scored the best marks in six subjects; and another 222 worked their way to top marks in five of their classes.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC), in the first year of a new eight grade system, revealed that more and more pupils were opting to sit higher level papers across nearly all subjects.

The outcome is that while there are no dramatic shifts in standards, more students ended up with lower grades in the higher papers than last year.

Press Association

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