When Paarl Gimnasium Grade 12 matriculant, 18-year-old Madelein Dippenaar’s telephone rang, and she heard she’d been invited to attend the announcement of the National Senior Certificate results for the class of 2019, in Midrand, on Tuesday January
7, she had no idea what was
“When I answered the phone, I heard that I had been invited
to attend the release of the results by the Minister of Basic Education (Angie Motshekga) in Pretoria, but I had no idea what it entailed or what awards or achievements I might receive,” Madelein told Bolander last Thursday.
“I thought to myself ‘well, at least I’ve passed, and I’ve probably done quite well’.
“I never even thought I could be in the top 10, nationally or provincially, so it came as a tremendous shock.
“It was only when the announcement was made for the top pupil, and the Western Cape was mentioned, that I became nervous.
“When my name was called out, I really couldn’t believe it and I looked at the girl next to me.
“When I walked up to the podium, I felt as if I was floating. It was really amazing to stand there between the Minister of Basic Education and the Deputy Minister of Basic Education (Dr Reginah Mhaule).
“And there were all those people, and there were cameras in my face, and there were flashing lights everywhere.
“I must say, it was a bit overwhelming, but to be honest, I was very, very happy.”
When Bolander spoke to her, Madelein was relaxing at home on the family farm in Augrabies in the Northern Cape after a whirlwind few days attending the ceremony in Pretoria, followed by a reception in her honour at Paarl Gimnasium the next day, at which Western Cape Education MEC, Debbie Schäfer, announced the provincial matric results. “I usually work in the packhouse during the holidays, but my parents gave me the day off today,” she said.
Madelein achieved an average of 96.6% to clinch national top honours, and she also obtained distinctions in all eight subjects – Afrikaans home language, English home language, mathematics, engineering graphics and design, life sciences, physical sciences, visual arts, German second additional language, and life orientation.
But Madelein is no stranger to academic achievement.
She was top of her class from Grade 8, and she took two additional subjects from Grade 10 – German second additional language, and visual arts, which
she studied at an art school in Paarl.
The middle-child of three daughters – sister Charlize is the elder and sister Aliza is the younger – has focused on academic achievement her entire high school career.
Turning to her approach to her studies which resulted in her achievement she said: “I’ve been quite consistent in regard to academics and how hard I have worked, so it wasn’t necessarily that I put in more effort for the end of year exam in comparison with, for example, tests at the beginning of a term.
“I think that made the difference, because I started early-on taking my work seriously and really absorbing it, so that when the time came that I had to prepare for the final Grade 12 exam it was basically revision of the work that I studied for the September exam.”
Madelein has been accepted for a degree in microbiology and biotechnology at Stellenbosch University.
In 2018, she was one of two South African pupils, who visited NASA in Houston, Texas.
The focus of the visit was NASA’s Mars project, which in the 2030s, will see the first manned mission to the Red Planet. While there, Madelein got to interact with astronauts engaged in the preparations for the Mars programme.
“It was this experience that stimulated my interest in science,” she said.
And her message to young people who aspire to do well academically at high school?
“If you want to do well you must apply yourself consistently from the very commencement of high school.”