Jason McMahon

Martie du Plessis High School
Highest achiever in die Free State.
Passed with four distinctions.

I am a matric learner in Martie du Plessis. I started my school career in Grey College. When I was in grade 3, my mother realised that I still struggled a lot with reading and spelling. I hated every day; I felt so belittled by the other learners.

One of my teachers then said to my mother that something was wrong and that she needed to find out what, so I went to a neurologist. From that we concluded that I had very severe dyslexia. My school at the time was not equipped to handle my special needs when it came to reading, writing and the attention I needed to achieve my best. In the afternoons I always received help with my homework from Mrs Anli Starke, a grade 3 teacher at Martie du Plessis. She told my mother that there was only one place for me, and that was Martie. The following year when grade 4 started, I found myself in a new school, with new people and a new outlook on life.

This place changed my life forever. The teachers are more like parents; each and every one of them care so much about every student, no matter what their problem in life is.

My biggest achievement was when I found out about something called the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. Being dyslexic, my brain thinks in a different way than that of an average person. I can take things apart and redesign them in my mind. Using my gift, I created a portable solar powered generator. At first it wasn’t even meant to go to the Expo; it was just one of my many crazy ideas. One day I brought it to school and one of my teachers said I should take it to the Expo. Hours of work were done on this project, thanks to my mother’s help with the paperwork and spelling.

Suddenly I found myself at the regionals, not expecting to win anything. But I was wrong; that day I won a gold medal, the prize for the best energy project on the floor and an opportunity to go to the Eskom International Science Expo. Before I went (and I was only told about this after the International Expo), the organiser told my teacher that I should withdraw from the event, because the competition is too stiff and I would only be disappointed if I went to the Expo. I did not know this, and it was the most awesome three days of my life.

Then the day arrived for the prize-giving to take place; again I didn’t expect anything. That day I went on to win a gold medal at the International Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, out of 500 learners from all over South Africa and about 100 learners from other countries in the world. I remember how shocked that teacher was when I went up on the stage. He was in disbelief that someone from Martie could achieve this. My teacher only told me afterwards what he had said.

My time at Martie has changed me forever. I will forever be in debt to each and every teacher at the school, for they made me who I am today. This school gives you strength, it gives you support and, most of all, it gives you hope. I remember when I was younger, my father would tell me every night that I could be anything I wanted to be, and thanks to Martie, I now can. In my matric year I won 10 trophies at our school’s annual prize-giving. Through hard work and support from every staff member, I reached my full potential.
Martie du Plessis is a dream factory; they create them, and they make them come true.

Ad lucem! To the Light!

Andries Pretorius
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