Math whizzes - 94 Ardenne High fourth-form students get grade one in CSEC
Ardenne High School's commitment to providing quality education was clearly demonstrated with 101 of its grade-10 students achieving success in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) mathematics exam this year. Ninety-four of the students achieved grade one passes, and 88 earned straight-A profiles.
Ann Mason, head of the mathematics department at the St Andrew school, said the impressive pass rate affirmed the institution's objectives of ensuring that every student is given the opportunity to excel. The mathematics programme is in its fourth year. There was similar success in the past three years. Mason indicated that in 2015, fifty-eight grade 10 students also performed above average with similar results.
"When my students ask me what [will happen] if they get a grade two, I say to them I don't expect any of them to get a grade two. They are so prepared that we are surprised if they do get a grade two because they normally get grade ones," Mason said.
She explained that four years ago when the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) syllabus was changed, meaning that students had to sit additional mathematics before they could do CAPE mathematics, Ardenne High started offering additional mathematics classes to students, after school.
The institution brought in a teacher who worked with the students. By 2013, Mason said, the subject became part of the regular school timetable. The students in grade 10, once completing the mathematics syllabus, sit the CSEC examinations. This, she said, has allowed for the students to pursue the additional mathematics subject in grade 11 for the required entry into sixth form.
"So advanced are our students that we currently have a group that sat CAPE Unit One mathematics in grade 11 with eight distinctions. Currently, we have one student in grade 11 doing CAPE Unit 1 and 2. For our current grade 10, we have 99 students who will take CSEC at the next sitting," Mason said.
For Nadine Molloy, principal at the institution, it is expected that students will do well. "When you look at the numbers that pass, the cohort is far more than many other schools. We do not focus too much on the rankings, but we ensure that we get our students to achieve," Molloy said.
"We do not even rank our students in their classes. We encourage them to aim for the highest and implore them to be better tomorrow than they are today," Molloy added.
In any given year, the number of students sitting external examinations stands at 320, with only seven students achieving below average in 2014. "Students who want to sit extra subjects can do so after school. We encourage them to do them here instead of going elsewhere, so we know and can keep abreast of what they are doing," Molloy said.
Ardenne High School has a student population of 2,027, with 105 full-time and six part-time teachers. The students, Molloy said, are focused on their schoolwork.
"Overseas universities come to us. We do not necessarily have to go to university recruitment fairs. Fifteen years ago we won the Penn Relay Shield, and that's the only time we have won, but Penn State University visited us recently to recruit our students because they do so well," Molloy said.
HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE
Regarded by some as the best secondary education institution in Jamaica, Ardenne High has consistently performed extremely well in examinations regulated by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). The institution is best known for its high academic standards, among the highest in the Caribbean, and for its achievements in the performing arts and several sports, most notably basketball.
In 2011, the school's overall pass rate for CSEC was 97 per cent. The school has won Television Jamaica's Schools' Challenge Quiz competition six times (1973, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2013, 2015) ahead of Wolmer's Boys' School and Munro College with five wins, and trailing Kingston College with 10 wins.
"We get every kind of scholarship because our students are able to balance their academics and co-curricular activities. We ensure that they deliver work that is above standard," Mason said.
Kevon Reynolds, one of the high achievers who achieved grade one in mathematics at the recent sitting, said he practised a lot with his mother, who is also a mathematics teacher.
"I worked hard and I practised every day. I made sure I slept well the night before the examinations and not to overwork the day before. My mother checked the results and she came and hugged me and I felt really proud," Reynolds said.