EXCITED to start the next chapter in their academic careers, two Nelson Mandela Bay special needs pupils are grateful for having passed matric last year.
Brad Mitchell, 20, and Kelly McClean, 18, matriculated from the Elsen Academy. They formed part of the school's first matric class, and were among five of the six pupils who passed their matric exams at the private school, which caters for pupils with special needs.
Learning difficulties associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, problems with numbers, and low self-esteem were just some of the problems the pupils had to endure in their school life.
The school was founded in 2006, with an initial intake of only 13 pupils for grades one to four. As the years progressed, so did the number of pupils.
Eventually the Grade 10 class of 2010 decided to push on to matric.
McClean said she was looking forward to starting a course at the Elizabeth Beauty School in Summerstrand.
"It feels awesome having a matric, and the fact that I matriculated the same year as my twin sister is even better," she said. "Honestly, I didn't think I'd pass matric ... I thought I'd failed because I'd had two really bad exams."
McClean, who started at Elsen in Grade 11, spent the first two years of high school at a mainstream school before attending Cape Recife High School and ultimately Elsen.
"Having been in a mainstream school and then going to a special school really lowered my self-confidence because of the stigma associated with it. Elsen was the best for me. I fitted right in. I feel I wouldn't have passed anywhere else."
Mitchell, who has dyscalculia which is a difficulty in understanding maths, is preparing to start marketing diploma studies at Boston City Campus in March.
"I'm just so excited about starting a new part of my life, and look forward to all the experiences of the world out there. This is quite a big deal for me because ... I thought I might not have made it."
McClean's mother, Cari, said it had been a relief for her family when their daughter matriculated the same year as her sister.
Proud mom Debbie Mitchell said that through the teachers' dedication and patience, her son was able to achieve what some thought was the impossible.
Elsen headmaster Mark Barclay said their motto, "no limit to learning", was the driving force that had led to the school's first matric group.