Student stranded 11,500 miles away for six months in lockdown achieves top results

A STUDENT stranded 11,500 miles away from her school and classmates for six months during the pandemic is celebrating top results.

Ripon Grammar School boarding student Maia Holbert, whose parents live in New Zealand, joined virtual lessons from the island country in the South Pacific Ocean – where the time zone difference often meant setting her alarm at 2am to join her classes in Yorkshire.

The 18-year-old, who gained three As in German, chemistry and biology, will study applied medical science at Swansea University.

“I wasn’t able to join RGS until the March of lower sixth due to the Covid restrictions in New Zealand, as we were in complete lockdown and you were unable to re-enter the country if you chose to leave it.

“This meant I had to join virtual lessons from a completely different time zone. New Zealand was +13 hours ahead so it often meant setting my alarm for 2am in the morning for my afternoon lessons!

Maia, who eventually got to board at RGS, while staying with extended family outside Leeds at weekends, said: “I was obviously very glad to be able to join the rest of the cohort in March.

“It was hard, at times, to catch up on some work which I had not completely understood, but there was always an excellent support network of teachers, staff, and friends, to support me during these times.

“I would absolutely recommend boarding at sixth form to others. It provides you with so much freedom, and you are also able to maximise the time spent working and doing the things you love because there is no commute to school!"

Maia’s father is originally from Yorkshire and the family moved to New Zealand so that her mother could finish her training to qualify as a doctor: “I am very lucky to have big extended families in England, so I always had new places to visit and people to stay with at weekends. I’d like to thank all my family, teachers and friends for supporting me along the way."

The keen netball player, who also enjoys running, said: “I found this a great way to de-stress during the demanding period of exams.”

Maia received her results by email in New Zealand.

A delighted Maia with her parents in New Zealand