Straight ‘A’s all the way from clever Tipp students

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

The future of Tipperary is bright - or at least it is for the bright sparks who topped the class with a remarkable 12 ‘A’ grades in their Junior Cert results, revealed last week.

Tipp town’s Robert O’Donnell and Clonmel’s Kate Johnston hit the heights of academic achievement when they obtained straight ‘A’s in their Junior Cert exams. They are two of just 19 in all of Ireland who were awarded 12 ‘A’s - five of whom are from county Tipperary, the other three from Thurles.

Both students, who are now in Transition Year in their respective schools, were remarkably level-headed about their achievements, when they spoke to The Nationalist.

Robert, who is a student at the Abbey CBS in Tipperary Town, said he knew he had done well but was surprised when he saw his results on Wednesday of last week. “I thought I’d messed up a few, but it all worked out,” he said.

Along with the core Junior Cert subjects Robert took exams in technical graphics, business, French, and Germany, which he studied after school. “I enjoy languages, they are useful, something you’ll actually use,” the 16 year-old said, something Irish industry leaders would be delighted to hear a young student say.

“The teachers here are very good, credit has to go to them. I was a bit lucky with the exams as well, with the things that came up on the day, luck plays its part.” He says he hasn’t forgotten that he still has to do the Leaving Cert. He worked hard for the last three years, did his homework, but still had time for friends, Robert said.

This year he is taking Transition Year because, he admits, he has no clue what he wants to do in the future. He’s looking forward to the work experience elements of the year.

Robert, who is from Pallasgreen, is the son of Nora and Tom. He has two older sisters who are in college and working. As a Limerick man he says he has good banter with his schoolmates, but they all congratulated him on his Junior Cert results.

Abbey Principal John Heffernan expressed his surprise to receive a phone call from an Official in the State Examinations Commission at 8.20am last Wednesday morning. “I suggest you check out Robert O’Donnell’s results,” she stated. Mr. Heffernan was delighted with Robert’s performance. “It is a great honour for the family and the school. Robert had always been a most diligent and focussed worker and neither his classmates nor teachers were surprised at his achievement,” Mr Heffernan said.

Mr. Heffernan also paid tribute to Shane McGrath who achieved 11 As and to another student with learning difficulties who got 4As. That result was equally extraordinary and a source of pride for his parents and teachers and the boy himself.

At the Loreto Secondary School in Clonmel, students and staff are celebrating the 12 ‘A’s of Kate Johnston.

Kate, who is from Rathkeevan, described her surprise with her results. She told The Nationalist that she and a friend had planned to open their results envelopes together and when she did “I was so surprised. I’m really happy now. Everyone has been so kind.”

Kate said she worked really hard during the last three years and did well in her mock exams, earlier in the year, but didn’t expect 12 ‘A’s. “It shows the really excellent teachers and great friends I have,” she said.

Along with her core subjects Kate took science, religion, French, home economics and outside school she studied music with Marie Mullen, who was a music teacher at the Loreto.

“It was hard work but I really love music and I enjoy the subject,” said Kate who is a member of Banna Chluain Meala and plays the violin and piano.

Now she has started the new school year Kate says she loves Transition Year. “it’s a chance to try out new, interesting things.”

Looking to the future Kate says she doesn’t know what she would like to do yet, but it hoping to do some work experience in the courts area during TYO because she has an interest in law.

The daughter of Celine and Roy, Kate has older siblings Maeve, who is at Trinity, David who started at UL this week and whose Leaving Cert exams last June took the focus off her, Kate says. She also has a twin brother, Bill, who is studying for his Junior Cert at Rockwell College this year. Kate said he thought she was joking when she rang to tell him her results, and says she has now set the standard for him!