STUDENTS were rewarded for their efforts yesterday after a rugby captain overcame a double leg break to achieve top results and a classmate achieved his Cambridge dream.
Their successes were mirrored by fellow students at Barnard Castle School who celebrated achieving their first choice universities after securing top grades.
For First XV ruby captain Jamie Adamson it was the best of finishes after the worst starts to his final year at sixth form.
Just three matches into the season the Falcons Associate Academy flanker fell awkwardly in a tackle and broke his fibular in two places.
After walking off the field with his injury, the 18-year-old, of Hunwick, watched the rest of the game before walking into hospital, where it was revealed he had a double fracture.
“I was six weeks in plaster, three weeks in a brace and it took four months in total to recover – not the best start to the season,” said Jamie.
“But my results of an A* and two As, which get me into Durham to read economics, are the perfect finish to the year. I hope to play rugby for the university and will keep my hand in as an associate of the Falcons.”
Joining him at Durham will be Ross Gardiner, who achieved three A*s and a D1 and Oliver Theakston, who secured two As and a B, both 18, of Kirkby Fleetham, who will read maths and earth sciences respectively.
Ross hopes to work in finance one day after developing a passion for maths at Barnard Castle Preparatory School.
“I’ve always loved maths and completely exhausted the papers I Googled,” he said. “My teachers were absolutely brilliant at finding fresh and different challenges for me which really helped me in my exams.”
Fellow student Nicholas Mackay also rose to the challenge. With an A* in maths and A in German secured in lower sixth he went into his final exams still needing the highest grades to take up his place at Cambridge.
Another A* in maths, an A* in chemistry, a D1 in physics and an A* in his EPQ were more than enough to cement his place at Cambridge’s Pembroke College to read chemical engineering – once he completes a voluntary gap year working in the development centre at the multi-national consumer goods company Proctor and Gamble in Newcastle.
“It was a tall order getting the grades but it gave me a clear target to aim for,” said the 18-year-old, of Barnard Castle. “I’m really looking forward to my gap year and then going to Cambridge, which has always been my dream.”
Three students were full of praise yesterday for the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which helped them impress admissions officials at their chosen universities.
Alex Thompson gained an A* after taking a detailed look at the correlation between junk food advertising and obesity in children.
“My primary research didn’t work out because I used our prep school,” she said. “Because our school dinners are healthy and the children so active, it didn’t really match national results that show there is a link between junk food ads and child obesity, but it was fascinating.”
Alex, 18, of Richmond, plans to take a gap year to study another A Level in chemistry before seeking to do bio-medicine at university.
For her EPQ Alice Hunter looked at animal holistic therapy and the impact on dementia. Her studies revealed that animals can calm patients and release higher levels of the hormone oxytocin – but only if the subject liked animals when they were young.
The 18-year-old, of Newsham, between Richmond and Barnard Castle, will read psychology at Oxford Brookes University. “The EPQ was great to do as you could choose anything you were interested in and study independently,” she said.
Budding writer and passionate Agatha Christie fan Rachel Elphick, 18, of Gainford, used her EPQ as the chance to write a murder mystery.
Set in the French town of Aix-Les-Bains, the story traces the investigations of a holidaying detective who stumbles across murder.
“I set it in the 1920s and loved the research,” she said. “I produced mood boards for the costumes and sets and the research made the writing even more enjoyable.”
Rachel, who writes film scripts for the Stockton-based DJW School of Acting, will now read English and French at Nottingham University.
Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “We are thrilled to see that the number of students achieving A* has increased to the highest level since 2013 showing that they have been inspired in their learning this year.”