Recognising that the annual IEB National Senior Certificate exams results is the perfect opportunity to promote the school – St Benedict’s College embarked on a full scale publicity campaign to shout about its incredible 2020 matric pass rate. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 – this year marks the 46th consecutive year of achieving a 100% matric exam pass rate – a unique message that any marketer would delight in taking to market!
Students are without doubt a school’s greatest marketing asset and the Bennie’s Boys proved their collective value once again. Despite the loss of many weeks of in-classroom teaching due to the pandemic in an unprecedented academic year, the St Benedict’s Class of 2020 produced an impressive set of results. Two St Benedict’s boys achieved averages over 90% and eight boys are among the country’s highest achievers in particular subjects. With a distinction ratio of two per student and a 97.27% bachelor degree pass rate, the school had strong messaging for a robust campaign.
Commenting on the results, the College Headmaster, David Jeffrey, says, “This is a solid set of results and the culmination of years of hard work. As if prophetic, ‘Young man I say to you arise’ was our school’s theme in 2020, and this is exactly what was asked of this group of matriculants. In our school’s history, no other group of students has completed their high school career during a global pandemic. There were no signposts to success and at times the challenges to be overcome felt insurmountable. But the class of 2020 showed incredible determination and their resilience is reflected in the marks they have produced.
“Their dedication to get to this point will serve as an example for generations to come. We could not be more proud of how they persevered and answered the call to rise up. Now, we encourage them to take on the world and go and do the great things they are called to do,” says Jeffrey.
Using every available channel – the school punted this messaging on radio and TV and on its own digital platforms. Media were hungry for the story and the good news was shared in the likes of City Press, on Media24, Netwerk24, SABC News 404, Caxton Radio, Lotus FM and multiple other media outlets. After a news cycle dominated with bad news for so many months – this upbeat story was refreshing and well received.
Gordon Grossett – one of the school’s top achievers with eight distinctions to his name and an average of 86,1% is set on studying film-making in the UK. Putting this ambition to good use – he helped the school produce several videos for the campaign. His creative flair and video and editing skills, combined with his integral knowledge of the school’s values, empowered him to produce rich and meaningful short stories which helped amplify the campaign messaging while further bringing it to life.
Speaking during an interview with Caxton Radio’s Paul Rotherham, Jeffrey said, “Our strategy at the College has always been one where we invest many hours of extra tuition with each and every student to help him realise his full potential. The pandemic could easily have derailed this methodology but our already well functioning digital systems, our Catholic ethos, a decisive and agile executive team and our approach to risk taking, ensured that this could continue. The net result is that every one of our pupils has qualified for tertiary studies which is a massive advantage in a world where education is prized above all else,” says Jeffrey. “We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated teachers who went above and beyond the call of duty to help our boys cross the finish line. They kept our students motivated and inspired them to stay the course. Of course, we cannot take away from the hard work and the commitment of our young men in excelling in these final exams and while every boy is a success story there are a few who deserve additional accolades.”
Brand Ambassadors Punt Academic Excellence
Recognising how important academic performance is to parents making school choices – the top performing boys were put forward for media interviews. The young brand ambassadors held their own and deserve to be commended for the role they played in the campaign.
With an enviable average of 92.4% and eight straight A’s, Matt Oosthuizen clinched the position of top Grade 12 student at St Benedict’s. He is listed on the IEB’s Commendable Achievers List which means he is ranked among the Top five percent nationally in five of his subjects and also achieved a distinction in Life Orientation. Aiden Plotz also did himself and his school proud by achieving a 90% overall average and an A in eight subjects in addition to achieving being placed in the Top one percent nationally in Business Studies.
Other top students who really shone in their finals include: Akhil Govan with an 88.4% average, eight distinctions and being amongst the Top one percent nationally in Mathematics; Jacques Theron, Ricardo Coelho and Gordon Grossett all banked eight distinctions with overall averages of 89%, 87.4% and 86.1% respectively.
Oosthuizen – a passionate academic who has already penned his first novel – will study medicine this year. He says “I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for St Benedict’s. The school builds character.” His advice to his peers and the Bennies boys yet to continue their matric year is, “Don’t have any regrets.”
More than just academic scholars – all these top performers are also all-rounders who made significant contributions to the school’s rich sport programme and developed important life skills through their participation in the vibrant cultural life of the school. Grossett was an integral part of the St Benedict’s Pipe Band, which won the national Championship three times during his high school career.
When reviewing the school’s performance against national benchmarks, St Benedict’s boys were in the top one percent nationally in English, Information Technology, History, Life Orientation, Mathematics, Afrikaans and Business Studies. St Benedict’s exceeded the IEB national subject averages in 13 subjects. Likewise, the school’s 97.27% Bachelor’s Degree pass rate exceeded the IEB’s by nearly 10 percent.
Renowned for an unprecedented run as SA Rowing Champions for 27 consecutive years, personal success and team excellence is nothing new to St Benedict’s. Although a holistic approach is adopted, the core focus has always remained academics – with 2 895 distinctions recorded the past 13 years. During this same time frame, an impressive 26 boys have been listed as IEB Outstanding or Commendable Achievers.
In closing and commenting on the campaign, Jeffrey adds, “Humanity constantly faces new challenges; new normalities with multiple situations that require ingenious solutions to survive. Thanks to COVID-19, the class of 2020 has been trained to find them; they are equipped with a unique set of skills that will serve them well as they go out into the world – ready for the next chapter of their lives. It’s an exciting time and we are confident they have the skills they need to scale great heights in the pursuit of their dreams. If history is to be believed, like so many of our alumni, we are expecting to see change makers and leaders born out of this group. We wish them all well as they forge ahead – knowing they are in charge of their destinies and will fashion bright and fulfilling futures.”
For more information – go to www.stbenedicts.co.za or Facebook: @stbenedictscollegebedfordview.