Freeman Catholic College has cemented its excellent HSC record by placing second in the state in English.
The 2017 honour roll compiled by the Sydney Morning Herald show the comprehensive Bonnyrigg Heights school as barely eight points behind the state’s top-ranked selective high school in the subject, taking into account students’ Advanced, Extension 1 and Extension 2 English results.
A record group of 14 Freeman graduates made the HSC all-round achievers list of students who achieve Band 6 results (the highest possible) in 10 or more units.
The peer study was amazing.
Another three made the list of students who have achieved top places in HSC courses.
Sarah McLenaghan, a college dux, achieved an ATAR of 99.55. She placed fourth in the state in Advanced English and equal fourth in Studies of Religion 1 with classmates Mark Cavanna and Victor Ta. Sarah plans to study a double degree in law and journalism next year.
“I was pretty excited, especially about the English result,” she said. “It has always been one of my favourite subjects and Mr Moore was a really good teacher.
“The highlight of the year for me was probably how the year group came together between trials and HSC exams.”
Mark studied four units of mathematics, his favourite subject, and said Mr Moore made English enjoyable. He plans to put his ATAR of 98.7 to use as entry to a civil engineering or architecture degree.
“I liked Mr Moore’s English lessons,” he said. “He was a good mentor and he made TS Eliot funny.
“I like Maths because once you click [with the concept] you don’t have to memorise anything – you just have to go out and do it – so you felt like the workload was a couple of units lighter.”
Culture of success
Students and the school’s Year 12 coordinators put the excellent results down to a culture of sharing study notes, peer and teacher mentoring, high expectations and shared experiences.
Year 12 coordinator Badya Gebrael said about six of the school’s 2016 Year 12 graduates took part in a first-time HSC peer mentoring initiative. They volunteered time to assist with study in various subjects, while the school library remained open for HSC study until 9pm for two weeks ahead of trial exams.
“Different teaches would nominate to supervise sessions, so students could choose what session they would go to,” Mrs Gebrael said. “The peer study was amazing. They would have the whiteboards out and everyone was collaborating.
“Most subjects also had some kind of revision class that went for between three and six hours. Some students were at school for revision lessons every day in the school holidays. The students owned it. They wanted the results and they worked hard and achieved them.”
It was about working towards our future, not just for today.
Year 12 coordinator Diana Arida said the professional and supportive relationship between staff and students was also a factor in the school’s HSC success.
“There is a great rapport,” she said. “The students feel comfortable to approach teachers if they need anything, and to say what is on their mind.”
Sarah Dunn achieved an ATAR of 96.55 and plans to study a combined degree in law and international studies. She said night study and a dropbox that last year’s Year 12 students used to share their notes were highlights of 2017.
“The past Year 12s helped us so much,” she said. “They gave us all of their notes and past essays so we could have something to work from.”
Lily Vu hopes to make the most of her learnings during gap year travel in Europe.
“I’ve studied French Continuers and want to speak French fluently,” she said. “I just want to see the world and gain new experiences.”
She said the HSC year passed quickly.
“When you focus on something a lot everything goes fast,” she said. “You know the sound when you’re on the last lap if you play Mario Kart? The HSC was kind of like that. Everything just went in a blur.”
Surge in sciences
Twins Christine and Crystal Chu both studied the same subject and received ATARs of more than 98. They are among the Freeman students and all-round achievers eyeing careers in scientific fields.
Christine plans to study psychology or chemical and biomedical engineering, Crystal biomedical engineering or physiotherapy.
“I think Chemistry classes and the chemical equations were my highlight this year,” Christine said.
Daniel Kasunic, also a college dux, achieved an ATAR of 99.7 and plans to study medicine next year.
“Just having the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to society and help others appealed to me,” he said. “I think that’s important.
“My highlight of the year was probably also the school carnivals and events because they’re an opportunity to bring the whole grade together and have a small break from the stress of the HSC.”
For others the reasons for their university study choice are personal.
Petar Milicevic plans to study Medicine at university next year after seeing the care his godfather received in hospital about six months ago for third degree burns to his body.
“The way the doctors fixed him up was amazing,” he said. “I didn’t think about it [Medicine] once before that.”
A case of mental ill health in his family prompted Luke Agostino to decide on a psychology degree with honours for next year.
“I’ve read a lot of books about it and that is what got me through this year, just thinking about that goal,” he said.
“Every year meeting we got information from our careers advisor about options for next year so it was about working towards our future, not just for today. Just knowing about the different pathways you could take was good to give you a bit more confidence and motivation to work harder during the year.”
Freeman Catholic College’s HSC All-round Achievers in 2017
Julian Schembri, Silvia Sullivan, Bianca Tolic, Lily Vu, Chantelle Abarzua, Isabella Agostino, Luke Agostino, Ana Bilic, Nicole Camilleri, Christine Chu, Crystal Chu, Annemarie Juan, Daniel Kasunic, Isabella Mattiuzo.