Thousands of students received their Leaving Cert results today amid hopes that next year, things will be a little more normal.
This year's exams were canceled due to the Covid-19 outbreak and students instead received grades that were predicted by their teachers.
When the Leaving Cert grades were finally announced yesterday, schools, students, and teachers around the county celebrated stellar results, with a number of Cork students receiving the maximum 625 points.
Paulina Jaworska, a student from Christ King Girls’ Secondary School received maximum marks in eight subjects.
Aoife Mannion of Coláiste an Phiarsaigh was another to receive 625 points in her Leaving Cert this year.
Meanwhile, six students from Christian Brothers College (CBC) Cork achieved just that, while eighteen more achieved in excess of 600 points.
Alex Sheehan, Tim Wang, Ben Terhorst, Jack O’Sullivan, Luke Galligan and Finn Mac Fhlannchadha achieved 625 points in the Leaving Cert this year at CBC.
Speaking to The Echo, CBC principal David Lordon, said the last few months have been a rollercoaster for the students, and he was glad to see their hard work rewarded on results day.
“It’s been a whirlwind and a rollercoaster for the boys over the last few months so this is a good day for them, a culmination of all their efforts.
“The most encouraging thing is the consistency of the results,” added Mr Lordon.
“Traditionally, the results here have been excellent and this year, the results are consistent with previous years.
“Last year, we had eight students on 625 points and the year before we had seven students on 625 points so the consistency of the results is just as rewarding and gratifying as the results themselves,” he said.
“It has been a challenging number of months for the boys with a lot of uncertainty so it’s great to see their hard work, effort and ability being rewarded here this morning.” Mr Lordon praised students and teachers for working through “unique circumstances”.
Mr Lordon added that he is hopeful things will be back to normal next year.
“I think every school in the country is aiming to ensure students experience as much normality as possible,” he explained.
“We are living in times where we have to adapt and be flexible but the best thing for students is certainty, routine and structure.
“The Leaving Cert, as students are familiar with, is the best thing to provide that certainty and structure,” he added.
“So we are hopeful that next year’s cohort of students will be able to sit the traditional Leaving Cert in the traditional way because it’s very important both for themselves and as a rite of passage between second and third level.”
Aaron Wolfe, principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís, echoed Mr Lordon’s hopes for next year.
“The students I met today were very happy but it’s a strange day,” he explained.
“Normally, results day is a real celebration but they couldn’t have that, or their graduation - they’ve been robbed of so much.
“It’ll be difficult for them to celebrate it properly,” he added.
“We all remember getting our Leaving Cert results and celebrating that milestone.
“You’ve got to feel sorry for them going into college these days because the social aspect of college has been taken away from them.
“It’s very tough on them and I hope things are back to some sort of normality this year.”
Ann Piggott, president of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI), explained it has been a difficult year for both students and teachers.
While grades this year were higher than that of previous years, Ms Piggott said there was a balancing act between avoiding inflated grades and the controversy seen in the UK in recent weeks.
“Schools finished suddenly, teachers expected there to be a Leaving Cert exam and were willing to go into school in July to teach but it didn’t work out like that,” she said.
“In a way the last thing teachers wanted to do was predict grades but they did it with the best intentions and with professionalism.
“The real test will come on Friday when the CAO offers come out,” she added.
“There have been additional college places made available so that might balance it out.”
Ms Piggott said she is hopeful that things will be different next year.
“It doesn’t look like this virus is going away and there have been cases in schools here as well as outbreaks in schools in the UK as well.
“We don’t know how the year will pan out but we have a lot of time to plan for next year.
“Next year, the Leaving Cert could go ahead as normal even if extra space needs to be found and rented for that purpose, or other plans could be brought in whereby students can sit online exams,” she added.
“I would hope that we would not be back in this situation again where teachers are predicting grades as we have plenty of time to plan for alternatives.”