From hospice helper to coach and mountain climber

18th November 2005 at 00:00
Elizabeth Buie reports on a change in direction for the SQA's annual awards to pupils and schools

Yuelin Li achieved five Highers at A (band 1) at Lenzie Academy and a sixth Higher in art and design at FE college while in S5. She followed up this achievement by gaining straight As in four Advanced Highers as well as a pass in the performance unit of Advanced Higher music.

An accomplished pianist and cellist, Yuelin plays in five orchestras. She achieved distinction in the UK Maths Olympiad in S1 and S2 and took four gold medals in the annual UK Maths Challenge.

Outside school she has worked at the Campsie View School for children with special needs, at the Marie Curie hospice as a ward assistant and at Glasgow's Stobhill Hospital as a volunteer.

Yuelin is studying acupuncture in China during her deferred year before going to Cambridge University to study medicine.

David Smail, who was a pupil at Galashiels Academy, recorded A passes in eight Standard grades, five Highers and four Advanced Highers. He is in his first year of studying law at Edinburgh University.

Marilyn Bell, the school's depute head, says he is regarded by the principal teacher of English as one of only two or three truly outstanding students in his 20-odd years of teaching.

David was picked out as a potential professional footballer at 16, and coaches and referees youngsters in his free time. "He is quite incredibly self-motivated. His father was ill during his final year, so he had a number of home problems, but he coped with that. He is just an exceptional young man," Mrs Bell said.

On top of his other commitments, a part-time job took up 14 hours a week.

Robin Irvine's six A grade Highers (five at band 1) came despite minimal teaching in two subjects - computing and modern studies. Ullapool High did not have a permanent computing teacher while Robin was in S5, and he took on modern studies as an extra Higher.

He is heavily involved in enterprise activities and, as a keen outdoor sportsman, he went mountaineering in Mongolia in the summer and in Morocco in the October break. He has trained as a lifeguard and works part-time in a supermarket.

Robin has applied to Cambridge University to do oriental studies next year and is currently doing Advanced Higher French as a crash course.

He has achieved all this despite a hearing impediment which requires him to use lip-reading skills.

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