By Rupa SeenarineRiana Toney of the Anna Regina Secondary School is this year’s highest achiever at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination, after securing a whopping 19 Grade Ones.Samuel Haynes(18 Grade ones)Charrandat Naraine(18 Grade ones, 1 Grade two)Alex Abraham(18 Grade ones 2 Grade twos)Riana Toney (19 Grade ones)Donlee Castello (17 Grade ones, 3 Grade twos)The 16-year-old student, who hails from Queenstown Village on the Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supernaam), told Guyana Times that she was speechless after learning of her achievement.Aspiring to become a microbiologist, she insisted that it was done through months of dedication and numerous sacrifices.In an elated tone, the top performer expressed, “I’m excited, overjoyed and shocked. It wasn’t something that I expected. I know that I completed all my SBAs (School Based Assessments), worked past papers, studied very hard in the night and went to all my lessons. Presently, I would like to be a microbiologist because I’m interested in Biology.”While Toney has not yet defined where she will be pursuing her studies, she indicated that it will definitely materialise in the near future. Gratification was given to her parents and many teachers since they “were instrumental in every way possible”.In the second position was Alex Abraham of St Roses High School, who swept 18 Grade Ones and two Grade Twos. He was followed by Charrandat Naraine of the Anna Regina Secondary School, who secured 18 Grade Ones with one Grade Two.Meanwhile, Queen’s College managed to produce two students within the top five performers.Samuel Haynes gained fourth place with 18 ones and was overly proud of his accomplishment. Living all the way in Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara meant travelling a long commute to school every day but he persevered and even took extra lessons to boost his capabilities.“I grew up all my life in Buxton and indeed, I always knew I had the potential to do great things with the help of God but this is truly a surprise and sigh of relief. I’m very ecstatic about being a top performer,” Haynes told this publication in an interview.Praises were also bestowed upon his family and teachers for their continuous support. The 16-year-old was genuinely vocal about his journey towards this success as he recalled, “It called for a lot of organisation and discipline. Work-related things were done at nights and then studies or anything related to retaining was done in the mornings when I could focus. Of course, these routines shifted according to certain circumstances.”His colleague, Donlee Castello, followed in the fifth position and indicated his aspiration to create a dent in the political arena. Having secured 17 Grade Ones and three Grade Twos, his career choice is a lawyer.Castello voiced his support for young leadership and while a Grade Three is considered a passing grade, he was sceptical about only receiving Grades Ones and Twos, which he successfully did.“I am a bit speechless at the moment. I must give all the glory to God because I mean, I wanted to do great but he came through and answered my prayers. Thankfully, I didn’t get any Grade Threes. I’m still speechless here…” Castello excitedly exclaimed.He added, “I want to be a lawyer and then eventually drift into politics because I have a passion for change”.Castello lived some distance away, in the community of Tuschen, West Coast Demerara, and this posed a challenge. He would use the journey to Queen’s College as an opportunity to make up for whatever sleep lost after studying all night.“I had to sacrifice a lot of things, like television shows, games and so on. I would pull an all-nighter and because I lived a very far distance, I would sleep on my way to school. The problem I had was finding this balance between doing my SBAs and studying at the same time,” the 17-year-old relayed.Other students in the top ten roster included Chetram Harrinarine of the Saraswati Vidya Niketan (SVN), who secured 17 Grade Ones and two Grade Twos; and Manoj Lachhman, also of SVN, who gained 17 Grade Ones and one Grade Two. They were followed by Vijay Sharma of Queen’s College with 16 Grade Ones and two Grade Twos; Keisha Jaisingh of SVN with 16 Grade Ones and two Grade Threes and; Jhashodra Ramnarain of JC Chandisingh Secondary, who secured 16 Grade Ones and one Grade Two.Some 11,467 students were registered to sit the examinations this year with 67,000 subject entries.