STAR Students

All of our schools have success stories to share.

Here are a few of them. We’re proud of our students’ personal achievements and what they have done to make our world a better place. Are you one of our STAR students? Do you have a story you would like to share with us? Let us know. We would love to hear from you.

Christ The King Grad Achieves Rare Academic Feat

It may be back to school again, but last year’s marks are still coming in. Christ The King School graduate Christopher Kowal just got confirmation – 100% on his math diploma examination. It is the second perfect score he has earned after getting the same grade on his biology diploma in January.

When you ask Christopher Kowal how he got 100% on not one but two Grade 12 diploma examinations he turns modest and gives the first kudos to his teachers.  ”The teachers prepared me really well,” he says. “I didn’t have to spend much time studying at all, especially for the math exam. It’s more about technique – I just knew how to do it.”

The recent graduate of STAR Catholic’s Christ The King School says that biology was not even one of his strongest subjects. His favourite subjects are math and physics. So how do kids like Kowal get to the top of their classes, even in subjects that are not their strengths?

Christ The King math teacher Chad Starko describes Kowal as a very diligent student who works hard and always tries his best. “It [the math diploma] is a very difficult exam. It is not easy to get 100 per cent,” Starko emphasizes.

Starko says he’s only seen a ‘handful of students’ ever ace a diploma exam. And while there will always be a range of marks on any student achievement test, there seems to be a few common threads that can lead to a highly successful record like Kowal’s once they are woven together.

Natural ability is one part of the answer and hard work is another part. But a quick Internet search on how to get straight A’s suggests that adopting some very unglamorous, tried and true habits all the way through the year is critical. Like making the most of every class you attend by taking good notes and asking the teacher productive questions when a point is not clear.

Sounds basic, right? But good notes are a record of what the teacher thought was the most important to emphasize. Getting a clear answer to a question increases the likelihood of remembering a concept that you will be able to apply on a test, instead of focusing too much on memorizing tidbits of information.

Kowal’s math teacher agrees. “Christopher did well all the way through,” Starko says. “He had the background information. He can apply it, synthesize it and problem-solve it too.”

When asked what he liked best about his high school experience, Kowal says the best part is his teachers. “I got a high quality education because of them,” he states plainly.

This seems to be another key thread: the teachers. Kowal says his teachers knew what to teach and how to prepare their students for the diploma examinations.

To some, the importance of scoring high on diploma examinations may be a matter of debate. But Kowal’s good habits, good teachers and good marks got him over the minimum 94 per cent average required over the last two years of high school to qualify for an entrance scholarship to McGill, where he is enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering program. That’s a pretty high achievement for both Kowal and his teachers, debates aside.