Sydney’s best and brightest honoured

Students (from left) Ashleigh Wake, Nathan Zhou and Lauren Agostini. Photo: Natalie Roberts
Students (from left) Ashleigh Wake, Nathan Zhou and Lauren Agostini. Photo: Natalie Roberts

Lauren Agostini loves kids and can’t wait to work as a paediatrician once she completes tertiary studies in the field.

The Year 12 student from Aquinas Catholic College in Menai has just completed her HSC and scored highest in NSW for her favourite subject, Community and Family Studies.

“I love CAFS. I can apply it to the real world … I just love kids and I want to be a paediatrician so it was great learning about the family systems and the effects of different parenting on kids.”

Lauren is one of 127 HSC students in NSW to be awarded for finishing first in a particular course. Fifteen of those students were from Catholic schools, and four from Sydney’s systemic Catholic schools.

Almost half of all of Sydney Catholic secondary schools were named in the Top 150 according to their rankings with St Clare’s College Waverley, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Kensington, St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove, St Mary’s Cathedral College Sydney, Bethany College Hurstville and Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg making the Top 100.

Analysis of 2018 HSC data also shows more than 80% of students achieved at least one Band 6 result (the highest possible) in a 2 Unit course, while the number of students in the top band of extension courses climbed 2.1% from last year’s results to include 60% of SCS students.

NSW Minister for Education Rob Stokes, awarded Lauren and the other students their First in Course Awards during a special ceremony at UNSW, paying tribute to the teachers and parents who supported the students throughout their HSC studies.

“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.

“I congratulate not just these winners, but all of this year’s HSC recipients for their dedication, perseverance and hard work.”

NSW Minister for Education Rob Stokes awards Lauren Agostini equal First Place in Community and Family Studies. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
NSW Minister for Education Rob Stokes awards Lauren Agostini equal First Place in Community and Family Studies. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Lauren says she worked “really hard” throughout her final year of school and paid tribute to the staff at Aquinas College who provided constant support.

“CAFS was just so easy to study, especially with my teacher, she was amazing,” she said.

“Like 12.45am in the middle of the night she was still replying to my emails, giving me feedback.”

Lauren hopes to study Pre-Medicine at the University of Wollongong and says she can’t wait to get back into her studies.

“Yeah, I went to schoolies a little while ago and I’ve had enough. I’m ready to get back into it.”

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

“I’m feeling really good. I feel motivated to do more in Year 12,” he said.

Nathan said his family and teachers were all very supportive throughout his studies.

While he doesn’t have long-term plans just yet for life after school, he is considering studying Maths or Science at either UNSW or Sydney University.

He said it’s the “challenge” of maths that he loves.

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

Ashleigh Wake, from St Ursula’s College in Kingsgrove, topped the state for Standard English, which has the second highest candidature of any HSC subject.

“I perceived English to be my weakest subject so I liked the challenge that it gave me. It pushed me to work harder,” Ashleigh said.

She was full of praise for the constant care provided by school staff.

“You’d put in an essay and then it would be out the next day ready with the feedback and everything,” she said.

Ashleigh hopes to study Medicine at Sydney University and eventually become a Pediatric Oncologist.

The state's top performing Catholic school students with, from left, Rob Stokes (NSW Minister for Education), Dallas McInerney (Executive Director Catholic Schools NSW), Tom Alegounarias (Chair, NSW Education Standards Authority), David de Carvalho (CEO NSW Education Standards Authority). Photo: Alphonsus Fok
The state’s top performing Catholic school students with, from left, Rob Stokes (NSW Minister for Education), Dallas McInerney (Executive Director Catholic Schools NSW), Tom Alegounarias (Chair, NSW Education Standards Authority), David de Carvalho (CEO NSW Education Standards Authority). Photo: Alphonsus Fok

School-mate, Georgia Spiropoulos, also from St Ursula’s, finished equal first in Business Services Examination – the third time in four years that a Sydney Catholic Schools student has earned the state’s top score in the course.

During the award ceremony Mr Stokes told the students that education is a “relational pursuit” which cannot be undertaken alone. Just as others, such as parents and teachers, helped them to achieve great things, they too should use what they have been given to help others.

“Use your talent and mastery to serve one another,” he said.