Catholic students shine at HSC awards

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Students from Catholic schools in NSW who came first in 15 HSC courses, with Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, far left, and Dallas McInerney, Executive Officer for Catholic Schools NSW. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

Catholic school students in NSW topped 15 different Higher School Certificate courses this year, four of them students from Sydney’s systemic Catholic schools.

The high-achieving students were awarded by NSW Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, during a ceremony at UNSW on 12 December, the day before HSC results were released.

“This is a day you should savour,” Mr Stokes told the students.

“In your achievements you were able to stand on the shoulders of giants,” he said, paying tribute to the teachers and parents who supported the students throughout their HSC studies.

Three of the four students from Sydney’s systemic Catholic schools who achieved top scores. Left to right: Ashleigh Wake from St Ursula’s in Kingsgrove, Nathan Zhou of St Patrick’s College, Sutherland, and Lauren Agostini from Aquinas College, Menai. PHOTO: Natalie Roberts

Half of the 92 schools recognised at the award ceremony were non-government schools.

Four students from Sydney’s systemic schools earned top scores: Georgia Spiropoulos of St Ursula’s in Kingsgove, for Business Services, Lauren Agositini of Aquinas College, Menai, for Community and Family Studies, Ashleigh Wake of St Ursula’s, Kingsgove, for Standard English, and Nathan Zhou of St Patrick’s College, Sutherland, for Mathematics.

Catholic Schools NSW Chief Executive Officer, Dallas McInerney, said it was pleasing to see Catholic students from regional areas among the top-achieving students.

“Students from the full range of Catholic schools—urban and regional, systemic and congregational—ranked highly this year, showing Catholic schools perform well alongside government selective and high-fee independent schools,” Mr McInerney said.

“It’s especially pleasing to see students top the state from Catholic schools in Mailand, Menai, Wollongong, Ballina, Forbes, Varroville, Merrylands, Kingsgove and Sutherland.”

Emily Jeffery from Red Bend College in Forbes came first in the state for Primary Industries. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

Emily Jeffery from Red Bend College in Forbes, who came first in the state for Primary Industries, said travelling over an hour every day to get to school from her parents’ farm had been worth it in the end.

“I’m very excited and a little overwhelmed,” she said following the award ceremony.

“I had a lot of help at home from my parents at home on a farm as well as my teacher, Mr Hawthorne, he was really supportive and knew his stuff really well and was incredibly helpful.”

Emily said she hopes to study agricultural business management next year.

Even though he’s only in Year 11, Nathan Zhou, from St Patrick’s College Sutherland, obtained the highest score in Mathematics.

Nathan Zhou, from St Patrick’s College Sutherland, obtained the highest score in Mathematics. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

“I’m feeling really good. I feel motivated to do more in Year 12.” Nathan said while he doesn’t have long-term plans just yet he is considering studying Maths or Science at university. He said it’s the “challenge” of Maths that he loves.

“It motivates me to do more of these challenging questions.”

Grace Roodenrys of Mount Carmel College in Varroville, who came first for English (Advanced) said she was “elated.”

Grace Roodenrys from Mount Carmel Catholic College in Varroville receives her award for coming first in Advanced English from Minister for Education, Rob Stokes. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

“It’s the combination of 12 months of really vigorous work and discipline so it’s incredible to have it pay off.”

She said it was the “open” quality of English that she loved. “It’s up to you to interpret and engage with texts. I really enjoyed that.”

Grace hopes to study Arts and Law next year and to use her “writing skills” in her future career.