Programming this modest top performer’s ‘relaxation’


If his nose wasn’t in a textbook last year, Cape matriculant Jake van der Westhuizen, unlike ordinary teenagers, kept himself busy with “programming or catch-up work” for his extra subject, Biology.

Now this Bellvilliet, who sat his so-called “AS levels” of the Cambridge International curriculum exam last year, boasts an average of 94.7% and the title of the top matric of the private school, Reddam House Durbanville, Cape Town. for 2023.

He also achieved a staggering 99% for mathematics and intends to study science at the University of Cape Town this year.

“I know how competitive it is to get into universities and to win scholarships. There are so many other kids who work just as hard, or even harder, than me, and that motivated me to always put my all in,” Jake tells RNews.

He believes that his parents’ relaxed and ongoing support, as well as the freedom and creativity that his school’s curriculum and teachers allow for learners, have also contributed to his academic success.

“I know there are many children whose parents are terribly performance-driven, but with mine it was the complete opposite. They encouraged me to do my best and, on the contrary, wished that at times I would learn less and take more time off,” jokes the smart head.

With science, and specifically physics, as his favorite subject, it is no surprise that Jake’s career dreams lie in scientific research.

“I have the need to try to understand how the world around me works. I also like facts and things that one cannot simply argue about, and I think mathematics and science are one of the few things that cannot be argued about much.”

His dream is to one day be able to do research work in theoretical physics.

“I don’t want to become a professional, but for example do work like the one in France where they have a new nuclear power station that focuses on nuclear fusion. I still want to be able to get my hands dirty, otherwise I’ll get bored,” he says with a laugh.

Although mathematics and science have always been like food for the prospective student, he says that scholars should never allow career pressure and subject choices to limit them.

“It’s probably a cliché, but if I can give advice to other teenagers, it’s that they should realize that you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do – even if you don’t want to study.”

This teenager is also extremely modest about his outstanding achievements and believes that Reddam House’s class of 2023 made a big collective impact as a matric group.

RNnews reported earlier that these learners achieved a total of 126 distinctions for subjects such as biology, French, Spanish, chemistry and mathematics.

Although the grade’s average is 77%, 22 learners had an average of more than 80%, while nine learners excelled with an average of 90% or higher.

“We were one of our school’s strongest academic matric groups. Everyone was passionate and driven – it is a privilege to be part of such a matric class.”