High standards were maintained at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool following a shake-up of GCSEs.
English and maths exams were tougher this year after the first big GCSE reform in a generation.
But many High Tunstall students achieved some the top new numerical grades with 9 being the highest.
School leaders said the changes to the grading system meant it was in unprecedented territory and hard to compare its performance to previous years.
But headteacher Mark Tilling said: "GCSE is harder now than it has ever been and the pressure for all our young people is immense and we would like to pay tribute to every one of our 2017 leavers and the hard work and dedication they showed during their GCSE examinations and wish them the very best for their future."
There were lots of smiling faces and hugs as students learned their results.
Angel Stead got a grade 8 - equivalent to an old A* - in English Language and English Literature.
She also got a 7 in maths, one A8, one A and two Bs.
Angel said: "Maths and English were supposed to be harder this year.
"I did better in English than I thought I would."
Amy Richardson, 16, from Naisberry Park, got one grade 8, two 7s, four A*, two As and a B.
She said: "I feel amazing, especially the fact I passed further maths with a B.
"I was really nervous beforehand."
Kaylyn Keenan got two 8s, a 7, two A*, three As, one B and one C.
"I'm really happy and relieved," she said.
Michael Weegram, 16, received huge praise after achieving good results following the devastating death of his dad, also Michael, in February 2016.
Mr Weegram, died aged just 57 from pancreatic cancer.
In spite of his grief, Michael continued to study hard. He said: "It was hard but I had to get on. The first few months were especially bad.
"I just sort of took it in my stride."
Michael got an A in computing, four Bs, a C and three grade 5s - equivalent to strong C.
He said: "I think my dad would have been very proud."
Mr Tilling said: "Those results are really brilliant. I don't think he understands just yet the adversity he has gone through.
"I'm very proud of him."