High-scoring student managed to write play while studying 6 days a week for Leaving Cert

A pupil who was one of the 13 to get the top marks in the country in the Leaving Certificate took no grinds but studied every week night and every Saturday for a year.

Jack Synnott, from Termonfeckin, Co Louth, turns 18 next week and is already plotting a career in journalism, once he takes Law and Politics in Trinity College.

He opened his results at St Oliver's Community College in Drogheda to find eight grade ones at higher level and a grade three in a ninth subject.

Dublin schools cleaned up with seven out of 13 students receiving eight H1's in today's Leaving Cert results.

Students in Kildare, Wicklow, Limerick, and Louth received the equivalent to the old higher level A1.

The schools where the students attended are:

  • Holy Faith secondary school in Clontarf, Dublin;
  • Loreto College, St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2;
  • St Vincent's Castleknock College, Dublin 15;
  • Blackrock College, Dublin;
  • Two students in Coláiste Eoin, Baile An Bhóthair, Dublin;
  • Clongowes Wood College, Clane, Kildare;
  • Confey College, Leixlip, Kildare;
  • St Olivers Community College, Drogheda, Co Louth;
  • St Gerards school, Bray, Wicklow;
  • Hazlewood College, Dromcollogher, Limerick;
  • Ashfield College, Dundrum, Dublin

One of Jack's top ambitions is to find out if he came first in the class of 2017.

"Oh definitely," he said.

"I'm very competitive. When the principal told me that I could have the highest in the country I got very excited."

Jack and his parents Gráinne and Michael took the decision not to take grinds as he set a target to push himself to see what he could achieve on his own.

"I really wanted to challenge myself going into sixth year and see how much I could achieve," he said.

"I just kept pushing myself to see how much I could do on my own.

"The teachers at St Oliver's were so great.

Richard Bruton with (from left) Nadia Corrigan, Sarah Farrelly, Aisling Williams and Faye Donnelly after collecting their Leaving Certificate results at Maryfield College, Drumcondra, Dublin, today.

Jack's study timetable included opening his school books at 4.10pm at home Monday to Friday and working until 10pm, with a stop for tea.

He also clocked in at 9am on a Saturday and worked until 5pm.

"I usually took Sundays off," he said.

And if there was any spare time left over after that regime Jack was heavily involved in the local youth theatre society until Easter and helped to write a play about mental health titled 'All Out and Over'.

John Halpin, principal of St Oliver's, said: "He's a remarkable young man. He got the results himself.

"He and his parents took the decision to see how far he could go.

"They decided that whatever ability he had he would eke it out himself.

"It makes my job, the job of teachers, worthwhile."

Ciara Curley (left) and Aoife Moore celebrate after collecting their Leaving Certificate results at Maryfield College, Drumcondra, Dublin, today.

With the focus on top academic achievers on results day, Mr Halpin also noted the success of another student, Lithuanian-born Zygimantas "Ziggy" Tvarijonavicius who excelled in four technical subjects largely due to the high quality of his project work.

"Incidents like that when I see someone with talent, working hard, developing skills and he was able to focus on all these at the same time - that brings great satisfaction," the principal said.

"Ziggy's obviously going to be a master craftsman of some variety."

The identities of some of the 13 students who made history as the first to get eight H1s have also emerged this afternoon.

Ciaran Healy, Berrings and Adam Ford, Midleton, phoning home after receiving their Leaving Cert results at Bruce College, Cork. Picture: David Keane.

They include Laura Stack, a student at Hazelwood College in Dromcollogher, Co Limerick. Laura also plays camogie with Milford just over the county border in north Cork.

At Coláiste Eoin, an all-Irish school in Stillorgan in Dublin, two students - Caomhán Ó Conchúir from Cabinteely and Cillian Ó Dochartaigh from Walkinstown.

Conor Galvin, a student of Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare also got eight H1s this morning, the equivalent of eight higher level A1s in the old Leaving Certificate grading system for 90% to 100%.

Kate Collins of Holy Faith in Clontarf, Dublin, also achieved the top marks in eight subjects in Leaving Certificate 2017.

Education Minister, Richard Bruton has denied that the Leaving Cert has been dumbed down with the new points system.

Under the new system, students do not fail if they get between 30% and 40%.

Criona Cleary, Ballina, Co. Tipperary from Coláiste FCJ in Limerick with over 600 points in the Leaving Cert plans to go to UCC and study medicine. Photograph Liam Burke.

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