Ten out of ten for these six Helpies


An unshakable trust in God, the unwavering support of family and friends, an expert corps of educators who treat and guide each learner as a unique mature individual, and the mastery of balance between work and physical and emotional well-being: Helpmekaar Kollege’s six top matrics are the recipe for success which enabled them to achieve ten distinctions each in the Independent Examination Board’s (IEB) final examination in 2023.

Balance is essential

Pale souls are definitely not these standouts. In fact, they were just as active on the sports field and stage as they were before the books. “Balance is probably the most important skill and biggest possible obstacle that lies in a matriculant’s path. If you can master the fine art of putting your emotional and physical well-being first, knowing that your best is enough, and measuring yourself only by your own progress, one step at a time, the battle is half won.”

Say so Ewan Basson, who achieved distinctions in Afrikaans, English home language, mathematics, life orientation, physical sciences, life sciences, Spanish, further study mathematics (“standard” i.e. algebra and calculus), further study mathematics (“elective” or financial mathematics) and further study physics .

Ewan, who plans to start his medical studies at Tukkies this year, is not only the three-time winner of the nationwide Blitsbrein general knowledge competition, but also boasts gr. 8 Unisa qualification in piano. “I really like chess and mathematics because it develops critical thinking. However, I love moving in front of the piano just as much – not only for escape, but also for the discipline and practice it requires to master difficult pieces.”

He is especially grateful that he was able to hone his skills in critical thinking. “Helpmekaar creates a safe space for healthy debate and to examine diverse world perspectives. We cannot and must not limit ourselves to our own world of life. Only by critically assessing a matter from different points of view can we form an objective outlook. For me, it far outweighs fleeting performance,” says Ewan.

Beware of tunnel vision

For Andries de Kock who achieved ten distinctions in Afrikaans, English-first additional language (EAT), mathematics, life orientation, physical sciences, further study mathematics (“standard”), further study mathematics (“elective”), further study physics, information technology and economics, balance is also a key without which no matric can taste success.

Although, like Ewan, he also excelled in oratory and debate, later in his high school career he ventured into more sports such as golf, tennis and hockey to give his brain a break and his physical well-being a boost. Andries plans to study B Data Science, a relatively new qualification, at Stellenbosch University. “This course covers everything I love, from mathematics to computer science and physics,” he says.

Although Helpmekaar maintains an extremely high academic standard, Andries believes that expert educators who truly care make this challenging journey significantly easier. “The IEB curriculum also enables learners to gain a broad insight and discover different perspectives that widen and widen your way of thinking much more than factual knowledge.

“Although one can easily get tunnel vision because the volume of work feels overwhelming, matrics must remember that it is only one year. Yes, a very important one, but it is only the beginning of a wonderful future. Always give yourself something to look forward to, whether it’s a nice braai with friends or the matric holiday at the end of the year. Work hard, but also create special memorable moments and close friendships.”

Self-worth, not social media opinions

According to Ezaan Husselmann comparison is today’s greatest thief of joy. “Schools and learners often lose perspective in an attempt to chase more and more distinctions and try to trump others. This obsession with performance puts inhumane pressure on learners and often causes burnout instead of fueling passion and broadening perspectives.”

That is why Ezaan, who boasts ten distinctions in Afrikaans, English EAT, mathematics, life orientation, physical sciences, life sciences, further study mathematics (“standard”), further study mathematics (“elective”), tourism and art, has made a point of not measuring herself against others, but focusing on how God sees her. β€œArt in particular has enabled me to introspect, grow closer to God and learn more about myself.

“Technology is a wonderful tool, but often causes people to slavishly follow opinion makers and can (no longer) formulate their own opinion or argument. Own thinking is precisely something that Helpmekaar highly values. It is important, especially for young people, to find their unique vocation path and trust the Lord completely. Even if matric feels overwhelming at times, Psalm 33 gives us the reassurance that his plans for us are firm.”

Ezaan, who will study medicine at Stellenbosch University or at Tukkies, believes that although there is no perfect matric plan, consistency is important. “Focus on being better than yesterday, not better than others. Remember: God’s plan is unfolding and therefore I am more excited about my future self, the difference I can make in the lives of others, than the results of now.”

Productivity much more than learning

Christian Portwig this year, like Andries, will apply as a B Data Science student in Stellenbosch and dreams of one day setting up his own business. Christiaan achieved distinctions in Afrikaans, English EAT, mathematics, life orientation, physical sciences, life sciences, information technology, further study mathematics (“standard”), further study mathematics (“elective”) and tourism.

He admits that he grew in his faith especially in the final exam. “This, together with my family and friends’ support, was an indispensable anchor. I also learned in my matric year that exercise and sleep are just as important as staying up to date with the myriad of tasks. I spent at least an hour and a half in the gym every day and got at least seven to eight hours of sleep.

“Productivity is much more than learning, it is the result of a lot of ingredients. It is important to maintain momentum and to yourself pace. One can work hard and have great fun. Push your own insecurities aside and make yourself receptive to heaps of knowledge and new experiences.”

According to Christiaan, he would like to break down the walls of preconceived ideas in society. “Today we are so ready to judge and judge that people and opportunities fly past us. The most valuable lesson I learned at Helpmekaar is surely that there is a place in the sun for everyone. That we should make our tables bigger, not build our walls higher.”

To make things easier for others

For Carine Pretorius who achieved distinctions in Afrikaans, English home language, mathematics, life orientation, physical sciences, accounting, music, further study mathematics (“standard”), further study mathematics (“elective”) and economics, numbers are sweet cake. After all, Carine achieved 100% in further study mathematics (also known as a year 13 subject)!

“Unlike languages, the world of mathematics is a safe space for me, because there is always a solution to a problem. A correct or incorrect answer. I plan to study industrial engineering at Tukkies because processes and systems have always fascinated me. Although I am not very tidy, I like to know how my day will go and I would like to make a contribution to make things work better in the country and make things easier for other people.”

In addition to problem solving, music is a great passion. She studied at Unisa gr. 8 in recorder and received a scholarship to do her licentiate in this instrument this year. “Music enables one to switch off completely.” When the opportunity arises, she bakes and brews equally deftly in the kitchen and also enjoys sewing.

Carine also warns against peer pressure and a performance-driven school system. “It is important to focus on what is important to you. Don’t take on too much and ask if you get stuck. The matric journey does not have to be a lonely road. I have held on to Psalm 18 in times of stumbling. Even if one is sometimes uncertain, He makes your feet like those of a goat. Then you exchange the mountain in front of you for standing on top of the mountain. With Him.”

Marathon, not sprint

Helen Wilson anxiously waiting to hear if she has been admitted to medical studies at the Navara University in Spain or the Humanitas University in Milan, Italy. “I am grateful that an IEB foundation gives me the opportunity to study abroad.”

Wilson, who achieved distinctions in Afrikaans, English home language, French, Spanish, mathematics, life orientation, physical sciences, life sciences, further study mathematics (“standard”) and further study mathematics (“elective”), believes matric often feels like a sprint battle, but say it is rather a marathon. This recipient of Helpmekaar’s badge of honor, this school’s highest award, recognizes that gr. 12 is a bittersweet year.

“Yes, you’re going to work your way down, but if you bring your side, it will open incredible doors for you. Society demands that one has to work even harder to be noticed, to stand out. However, one must not leave oneself behind in the process. Do good planning, set goals, but reward yourself and be aware of your own limitations. Follow your own growth pace, not an internet plan.”

To maintain a healthy balance, Helen – who boasts provincial colors in hockey and cycling – joined group classes in the gym. “Two birds with one stone – socialization and exercise. Matric is not the end point. As Robbie Williams sings in the song “Love My Life”: You are strong, you are beautiful, you are free.”