Monday 25 June 2018

'It was a shock' - meet the high achievers who scored top marks in their Junior Cert

The wait is over for more than 61,500 students receiving the results of the June exams today

Niall O'Donovan, a pupil at Summerhill College, Sligo, who was awarded 12 As in his Junior Cert pictured with his dad Diarmuid, sister Kate and school principle Paul Kehoe.
Photo Brian Farrell
Niall O'Donovan, a pupil at Summerhill College, Sligo, who was awarded 12 As in his Junior Cert pictured with his dad Diarmuid, sister Kate and school principle Paul Kehoe. Photo Brian Farrell
Isobel Quirk, Ursuline Secondary schoolwith her family: mum Jennifer, sister Georgina and dad Michael, after recieving 12 As. Photo: John D Kelly
Eimear Kennedy from Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare is now in 5th year in St Caimin's Community School
Isobel Quirk Ursuline secondary school Thurles with Mary Butler principal and teachers Triona Gleeson (maths) and Patricia Dwan (science) after recieving 12 As in her Junior certificate Photo: John D Kelly
Alice Keenan from St.Mary's College in Arklow who got 10 straight A's in her Junior Cert results
Kinga Kalinowska is estatic as she gets her Junior Cert results at St.Mary's college in Arklow
Isobel Quirk of Clochar Na Nursulach, Thurles.
Allana Collier, Grace Harper and Kayla Ried celebate their Junior Cert Results at St.Mary's College in Arklow
Alice Keenan from St.Mary's College in Arklow who got 10 straight A's in her Junior Cert results with her mother Catherine

Robin Schiller and Sasha Brady

Two of only four students to earn top marks across the board in their Junior Cert exams have revealed their shock at achieving such impressive results.

Eimear  Kennedy (15), from Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare, described how she is still taking in the "shock" of getting 12 of the highest grades possible in her exams.

The St Caimin's Community School student, who is now in 5th year in the school, hopes to go on to study computer science or business in university.

"I'm very happy with it, I still haven't taken it in. I don't think anyone can really expect to get 12 top marks, so it was a shock when I looked at the results.  I have really great teachers and a great principal here which has really helped," she said.

Kinga Kalinowska is estatic as she gets her Junior Cert results at St.Mary's college in Arklow
Kinga Kalinowska is estatic as she gets her Junior Cert results at St.Mary's college in Arklow

"When I leave school I would like to computer science or a business course."

Claire Knight, the principal of St Caimins Community School in Shannon, said that the school was "delighted" for Eimear after receiving her results.

"Firstly were absolutely delighted for Eimear. She has worked very hard and has been really self motivated, and the results are a credit to her. Eimear is also involved in St Vincent de Paul and debating, so she really is an all round student."

Meanwhile, Tipperary student Isobel Quirk was also "completely shocked" when she opened her results this morning.

Isobel Quirk, Ursuline Secondary schoolwith her family: mum Jennifer, sister Georgina and dad Michael, after recieving 12 As. Photo: John D Kelly
Isobel Quirk, Ursuline Secondary schoolwith her family: mum Jennifer, sister Georgina and dad Michael, after recieving 12 As. Photo: John D Kelly

"I thought I did well in geography, history and CSPE. After that, I didn't know if I was coming or going," she told Independent.ie.

"I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't. My parents were really happy. Actually, I think they were happier than I was."

Isobel Quirk Ursuline secondary school Thurles with Mary Butler principal and teachers Triona Gleeson (maths) and Patricia Dwan (science) after recieving 12 As in her Junior certificate Photo: John D Kelly
Isobel Quirk Ursuline secondary school Thurles with Mary Butler principal and teachers Triona Gleeson (maths) and Patricia Dwan (science) after recieving 12 As in her Junior certificate Photo: John D Kelly

The 16-year-old student boards at Clochar Na Nursulach in Thurles, Co Tipperary.

When asked what the secret to her success is, she replied, "I just tried my best".

Nikki Lynch who got 9 A's and Fiona Ryan who got 10A's in their Junior Cert results at Malahide Community School.
Photo: Tony Gavin 13/9/2017
Nikki Lynch who got 9 A's and Fiona Ryan who got 10A's in their Junior Cert results at Malahide Community School. Photo: Tony Gavin 13/9/2017

"I put in about two or three hours of study each evening. I'm boarding at the school so they schedule those hours of study for all of us," she said.

"I also do a lot of sport so that helps a bit with stress relief."

Isobel skipped transition year and is now focused on her Leaving Cert preparations in 5th year.

However, she's still unsure on what she will do after school.

"I haven't thought that far ahead. I'd be interested in doing something business or law-related, I think," she said.

For the moment, Isobel is looking forward to low-key Junior Cert celebrations with her classmates.

"I'm out for dinner with all of my other friends from school, that's about it. It will be fun though."

Principal Mary Butler said she's "very proud" of Isobel and her exam achievements.

"She's a great girl. She worked hard and she got the results. We're all very proud of her," she said.

"We're proud of all our students here. It doesn't matter what grades they got, they all worked hard. They're such great girls, all of them."

Modest student Niall O'Donovan from Summerhill College, Sligo said he felt he "did fairly well" after getting a whopping 12 As in his Junior Cert.

"It was a huge surprise. I wasn't expecting it at all," he told Independent.ie

When it came to studying for the exams, Niall said he kept a balance between school and sport.

"I did a bit [of study] after school but I didn't kill myself. I'm in the local swimming club so I do about eight hours of swimming there each week."

Niall's favourite subjects in school are maths, science and technical graphics. He's still mulling over his future after secondary school but hopes to study physics or maths in college.

At the moment, the 15-year-old is enjoying all the non-academic activities of transition year.

"Transition year is great because you get to do a lot of different projects. I'm really looking forward to getting my mini company going and making a profit. We're still in the brainstorming stages at the moment but it should be a lot of fun," he said.

Tonight, Niall will head out with his family to celebrate his results.

His father Diarmiud said he was "extremely proud" of his son.

"I always knew he was going to do well. He kept it ticking over throughout the year. He didn't cram everything in at the end," he said.

"I think Niall was more nervous last night ahead of the results than he was during the exams."

A total of four students achieved got 12 top grades this year - despite results for the Junior Certificate examinations showing a significant drop in the number of students achieving top marks.

More than 61,500 students receiving the results of the June exams today are the first to experience changes in the junior cycle experience, including a broader assessment process.

The results, out today, show four students got 12 As this year, compared to 10 who received 12 As in 2016.

Fifty-four students received 11 As or more in 2017, compared to 147 who received 11 As or higher last year.

Finally, a total of 240 students received top marks in 10 subjects or more this year, compared to 423 in 2016. This is a drop of 43 per cent.

However, the junior cycle reforms got off to a good start for pupils in the subject of English, with a higher number than usual scoring above 55pc in the new-style English written assessment, at both higher and ordinary level.

English is the first subject to have undergone a reform in teaching, learning, assessment and grading, with similar changes in other subjects being phased in over coming years.

Education Minister Richard Bruton led the congratulations to students, their parents and teachers, adding that it was “positive and encouraging to see the changes to the Junior Cycle coming to fruition”.

The employers’ body,  Ibec said it could be “the start of the single most radical educational change in decades” and called for similar changes in the Leaving Cert

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