Despite having to switch from Afrikaans-medium learning to English in Grade 11, Modderdam High School’s top matriculant still scored five distinctions.
Annushka Isaacs, 18, said being taught in English and the difficulties of brought on by Covid-19 had strengthened her resolve to work even harder.
“When the pandemic came, I cried at home, but I decided not to give up,” she said.
“There is so much hardship and heartache, and many people lost their jobs. I told myself to study every day and work to the best of my ability. All the challenges that came only motivated me to make my final year at school a success. On top of all that, my community is also riddled with social ills, but I decided to isolate myself from the negativity.”
Annushka lives in Netreg, more commonly known as Golden Gate. She will start her degree in occupational therapy at UCT this year.
Her mother, Deidré Isaacs, said she could not be prouder of her eldest daughter.
“She has set such a good example to her two siblings. I always tell her to pursue her dreams, and she knows I am 1 000% behind her,” Ms Isaacs said.
Modderdam High School’s principal, Rona Rayray, said Annushka had worked hard consistently – even during lockdown.
“We are extremely proud of her. She is truly an exemplary learner, and she has once again proven that it does not matter where you come from, you can achieve anything,” Ms Rayray said. “The world is open to her, simply because of her determination and hard work. She lived the school’s vision, which is to strive to become a centre of excellence.”
Ward 31 councillor Theresa Thompson said the place where you grew up did not define you. She invited Annushka to Sub-council 5’s chambers to see how she could help the teen with her future plans.
“Annushka indicated that she does not have any stationery. We know circumstances are difficult, and we will assist where we can. It is a great pleasure to assist her with some stationery. She applied for a bursary, and we will follow up on the progress of that. We have also agreed to monitor Annushka’s progress with her studies as well,” Ms Thompson said.
Both Annushka and Ms Rayray praised the teachers at Modderdam High.
Annushka said: “My teachers were very supportive, and I would like to thank them for all they did for me. In fact, all my teachers throughout my schooling – including my teachers at Klipfontein Primary School. My family’s support also meant so much to me, especially my parents, who always motivate me by saying ‘you got this’. I am very grateful.”
Ms Rayray said she was proud of her staff, as no pupil lacked any support, whether nutritional, emotional or spiritual. They had also used their own money to buy pupils data to help with online schooling, she said.
Annushka advised those who had not passed their matric to not be despondent.
“It is not the end of the road,” she said. “Everyone’s success story is not the same. There are options – like rewriting. You must just have the right mindset. Reaching Grade 12 already made you a conqueror.”