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Alison O Loughlin of Miltown Malbay, a student of St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Spanish Point, who achieved 8 H1’s in her Leaving Certificate Exams. Photograph by John Kelly

Students vault Covid hurdles

Resilient Leaving Cert Class of ’21 post ‘exemplary’ results in the face of huge challenges presented by pandemic

MILTOWN Malbay’s Alison O’Loughlin told The Champion she is “still in shock” at receiving one of the highest grades in the country in her Leaving Certificate.
Alison, a student of St Joseph’s Secondary School in Spanish Point, achieved an impressive eight H1 grades.
She was among more than 1,300 Clare students who received their results last Friday. While most students got their grades online due to Covid-19 restrictions, Alison was thrilled to have the chance to receive hers in person at the school.
“The school gave us an opportunity to go in and physically get the results, we were all given time slots so we weren’t all in together. I was glad we could go into the school because it made it all a bit more real.”
Recalling when she first saw her grades the 19-year-old said, “I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. I knew I’d do OK, but I didn’t expect that many H1s.
“My mother was with me when I went to the school and she was just over the moon, she was crying and everything.”
Alison is planning on studying biomedical science in NUIG saying she “absolutely loves science”.
Preparing for the exams during Covid-19 with lockdowns was a challenge, she recalled.
“It was hard enough, but our school were unbelievable with the online classes. We had a full timetable, video classes every day and any questions or queries we had we could just email them.
“It was hard sitting at the computer all day long, but I found it was important to find a good balance between studying and taking breaks. It is important to take breaks and to keep on top of things rather than leaving it to the last moment.”
As well as acknowledging the school, she also praised her family for their help.
Meanwhile in Ennis, 18-year-old Jamila Liani got seven H1s in her exams and is planning on studying Biochemistry in UCC.
Jamila from the Gort Road attended Colaiste Muire in Ennis, and like many others she did not return to her old school to collect her results instead getting them online.
She told The Champion, “I was really surprised, I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was hoping for four H1s and then to see seven, I nearly screamed when I found out and I just ran downstairs to tell my mam.”
She put her amazing grades down to “a mix of luck and hard work”, and said that for the two weeks prior to starting the exams she was often studying up to seven hours a day.
“I tried to keep at the work for the whole year, there was so much online which sometimes made it hard to focus. It was difficult, especially if there was a Covid case and you would have to stay at home for two weeks.
“We didn’t have the interactions we normally would with our teachers, of course we could reach out to them but it is much harder to ask a question when you are in an online class.”
Her mother Grace said, “I’m just so delighted with how she has done – happy days.”
Jamila added, “I just want to say thank you to the teachers, my friends for helping me along the way, the year head and principal who provided a lot of support and my family.”
In Kilrush, deputy principal of Kilrush Community School Ramona McCarthy described the results across the board as “exemplary”.
Two students achieved the maximum 625 points – John McMahon and Michael Kelleher.
“Our Leaving Certificate Applied class also did incredibly well this year with over half the group being awarded distinctions.
“Kilrush Community School would like to congratulate all of their students on their fantastic results,” said the deputy principal.

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