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30 June 2020 | Tyrifjord, Norway [Tor Tjeransen]  

With a positive learning environment, Norway’s Adventist Junior College, Tyrifjord videregående skole, has always delivered good results. This year they were exceptional. One student received top grades in all 22 subjects listed on her diploma.

She was among 65 students who graduated on Sunday, 21 June following 13 years of schooling.

Tonje Karoline Knutsen received top grades in every single subject. While the school is proud to annually graduate students with very high grades, this is the first time in 30 years that a student has gained top marks in all subjects.

Tyrifjord graduation 2020This year's graduating class from Norwegian Junior College had a very high graduation. Tonje Karoline Knutsen (far right in the first row) received a diploma with top grades in all 22 subjects. [Photo: Nicolas Deserafino/ADAMS].

“It has been important for me to take school seriously from the very beginning,” Knutsen says, “but I also want to highlight the talented and motivated teachers and a good social environment that contributes to good learning.”

She chose Tyrifjord after attending an open day towards the end of her time at secondary school, spending the past three years at the College. "It's the best choice I've made," Knutsen says, as she immediately noticed teachers who saw each student. “The school stands for very good values, which I want to bring with me further in life.”

Tyrifjord is a boarding school, but around 50 % of the students are day students from the local area. As a non-dormitory student, Knutsen says she appreciated the opportunity to spend time with the dormitory students in their spare time, whether it was to work on schoolwork in the afternoons or to be with friends. “I have come to the worship service a few Saturdays and stayed on to have dinner with friends. It has always been very nice,” she adds.

Knutsen now plans to start her professional studies in psychology. With that interest she is well acquainted with the performance pressure many young people feel. “I have not experienced any pressure outside myself, but I would say that there has been motivation rather than pressure on my part.”

Reaching for the best

While Assistant Principal Raimo Hansen is impressed with Knusen's results, he notes that not everyone has the prerequisites for achieving such high grades. But, he emphasises, everyone has the potential to improve.

“Our educational staff have as an underlying goal to help all students to become better than they were when they came here,” he says. “But no goals can be achieved without the student doing their part.”

No teacher can help students who do not make an effort themselves. “If you do nothing, nothing happens,” is one of Hansen’s oft repeated sentences.

This year, the school has a very high graduation rate. But Hansen also has faith in those few students who did not quite manage a diploma at this time. “’Even if you have not succeeded today, we believe that you can succeed tomorrow,’ we tell our students.”

At Tyrifjord, all the teachers have a personal commitment to the students' success. Hansen believes he has identified a crucial factor in the good learning environment his colleagues provide. “It hinges on teachers' personal spiritual life,” says Hansen.

Graduation with restrictions

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a very unusual end to the school year. The physical campus was closed from 13 March until mid-May. However, teaching staff handled the transition to online teaching in a painless way using Teams and other digital platforms.

There were no oral or written exams due to pandemic restrictions. Grades were determined on performance throughout the year.

Graduation itself was uncertain, but government permission for congregations of up to 200 people made it possible to conduct the ceremony in an ‘almost’ normal fashion. The pupils in each of the three classes are considered as a cohort and so are allowed to interact closely, while family members had to maintain social distancing in the school's auditorium.

The original version of this article was published on the Norwegian Union website


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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