They may not be toppers, but they have risen and succeeded in unique ways. Battling poverty and difficult circumstances through sheer grit and determination, these students have done their schools and families proud.

Take Ronald Raj of Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Mogappair, for instance. His mother, Rani Antony Raj, began working as a security guard at his school, after his father died a few years ago. Raj, who scored 465/500, said he burnt the midnight oil for several months to prepare.

A noisy, industrial neighbourhood in Padi and difficult circumstances at home did not deter M. Livya from reaching her goal. This student of Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School scored 495.

Livya lost her father when she was in class IV. “My grandfather and uncle take care of me. Science is my favourite subject. I was little disappointed that I didn’t get a centum,” she said.

The Government Children Home for Girls, Kellys has plenty of reason to cheer. Fourteen girls, who appeared for the class X SSLC exam, have passed, with two students scoring above 400.

K. Elavarasi topped the list with 455, scoring full marks in social science. Her mother Lakshmi works as a domestic help. Her salary of Rs. 2,500 is the family’s sole income. Elavarasi’s father died when she was a child.

“I have been staying at the government home for the last five years. I want to study biology and become a teacher,” said Elavarasi.

S. Suryakala, superintendent of the home said all the girls at the home are from poor families. While some are from single parent homes, others are orphans.

Baby High School, a government-aided institution in West Tambaram also has similar tales of success.

S. Karthik who scored 475, was just five years old when his father died in a road accident, leaving his mother Latha to support her three sons. Latha’s income of Rs. 7,000 is barely enough to make ends meet. It was difficult for her son to study, especially during the prolonged power supply disruptions, Latha said.

“Whatever little success I have achieved is because of my mother,” Karthik said. His plans to pursue medicine.

S.K. Dinesh, his classmate, who scored 471, is the son of Subramani, a cobbler and Kanniamma, a domestic help. Dinesh is slightly disappointed, as he had expected at least 10 marks more. He said he wants to become an engineer.

Ninety-four students of Sevalaya’s Mahakavi Bharathiyar School passed the exam. Many of them are from poor families, and most are first-generation learners.