In a positive learning environment, Norway’s Adventist Junior College, Tyrifjord videregående skole has historically 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 June 21, 2020, following 13 years of schooling.
Tonje Karoline Knutsen received top grades in every school 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.
“It has been important for me to take school seriously from the very beginning,” Knutsen said, “but I also want to highlight the talented and motivated teachers and a good social environment that contributes to good learning.”
Knutsen chose Tyrifjord after attending an open day toward the end of her time at secondary school, spending the past three years at the Adventist-run school.
“It’s the best choice I’ve made,” Knutsen said, as she immediately noticed teachers who valued 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 percent of the students are day students from the local area. As a non-dormitory student, Knutsen said, 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 added.
Knutsen 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.”
Reaching for the Best
While assistant principal Raimo Hansen is impressed with Knutsen’s results, he noted that not everyone has the prerequisites for achieving such high grades. But, he emphasized, 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 said. “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 said he 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 said he believes he has identified a crucial factor in the excellent learning environment he thinks his colleagues provide. “It hinges on teachers’ personal spiritual life,” Hansen said.
Graduation With Restrictions
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a very unusual end to the school year. The physical campus was closed from March 13 until mid-May. Teaching staff handled the transition to online teaching painlessly, however, using a variety of digital platforms.
No oral or written exams were given, 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. Students in each of the three classes are considered as a cohort and so were allowed to interact closely. At the same time, family members had to maintain social distancing in the school’s auditorium.