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(Posted 8:30 a.m., Aug. 3)
East end's top public board students have much in common

By Fred Sherwin
OrléansOnline.ca

Zach Stevenson received the top mark at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School with a 97.66 per cent. Fred Sherwin/Photo


The top graduating students in the east end's four public board high schools have a lot in common besides just high marks. Three of them were relatively late bloomers and three of them want to pursue a career in medicine.

Zach Stevenson's average in Grade 9 and Grade 10 hovered between 87 and 92. It wasn't until the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School grad decided to apply himself in Grade 11 that he managed to get his average up to the mid-90s. He graduated in June with an average of 97.66 per cent.

"I didn't study so much in Grade 9 and 10. In Grade 11 I just decided to pay more attention in class and get better marks," says Stevenson who has enrolled in the life sciences program at McGill University.

The difference-maker for Stevenson was calculus teacher Anne Fitton.

"She made math a lot of fun. She was just really enthusiastic and zany," says Stevenson who readily admits he didn;t spend as much time pouring over the books as his fellow high achievers. "I spent a lot of time understanding the material rather than trying to memorize. Once I got it, everything was a lot easier."

Cairine Wilson grad Ayesha Kareem was the exact opposite of Stevenson. She has been getting the top mark in her class as long as she can remember, but she worked hard to achieve her standing, sometimes studying as much as three and four hours a night.

"I didn't really do a lot beside studying. My motivation was to her the highest mark possible," says Kareem whose 94 per cent average helped her get into the biomedical science program at the University of Ottawa.

Deborah Baremberg from Colonel By Secondary School received the highest mark in her graduating class and the second highest mark in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board with a 98.83 per cent. Fred Sherwin/Photo


Of the top grads in the east end, Deborah Baremberg from Colonel By Secondary School probably struck the best balance between time spent on the books and time spent away from the books.

"For myself, it's all about time management. I've never been a procrastinator," says Baremberg, who not only achieved the top mark in the east end with a 98.83 per cent in the challenging International Baccalaureate program, but also achieved the second highest mark in the board. "I do a lot of reading and painting and I also play the clarinet."

Baremberg credits Colonel By English teacher Angela Evans for helping to keep her motivated, as well as her math teacher Madame Gratton.

Like Stevenson, she was a good student in Grade 9 and 10 but not a top student.

"I would never have thought I could get the top mark in the school. It was always the same person and I assumed they would get the top mark. But in Grade 11 I won four subject awards and I got the top academic average and I started to believe it was possible. It's defintely the result of a lot of hard work," says Baremberg, who plans to major in physiology and minor in chemistry at McGill this year.

The east end's other top student was Rizwan Awan who received an average of 93.83 per cent at Gloucseter High School.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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