HSC 2018: SCS students honoured at First in Course awards

First in Course: Ashleigh Wake, Nathan Zhou and Lauren Agostini. Photo: Natalie Roberts

A day before their HSC results are officially released, four Sydney Catholic Schools students are riding a wave of euphoria.

Ashleigh Wake, Georgia Spiropoulos, Nathan Zhou, and Lauren Agostini each topped the state in a HSC course.

They were among the 127 NSW students who received a First in Course Award from NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes acknowledging the achievement at a ceremony held today at The University of NSW. This year more than 70,000 students sat one or more of 118 HSC courses.

St Patrick’s College Sutherland Year 11 student Nathan Zhou, 16, placed equal first in Mathematics, after being part of an accelerated class of about 20 students at his school.

When I first got the call I wasn’t sure it was real.

– Lauren Agostini

He is a term into coursework for Mathematics Extension 2 and will sit the rest of his HSC in 2019.

“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “It just motivates me to do well in other subjects in the coming year. It relieves the pressure but it won’t count towards my ATAR next year.

“I like the challenge. The feeling when I get a challenging question right makes me want to do more of the same thing.”

I like the challenge.

– Nathan Zhou

Equal first in Community and Family Studies (CAFS), Lauren Agostini plans to become a paediatrician and to study a Bachelor of Pre-Medicine at the University of Wollongong.

The Aquinas Catholic College Menai Year 12 graduate said it felt amazing to receive a First in Course award.

“When I first got the call I wasn’t sure it was real,” she said. “I liked that CAFS is real-world based, so I could relate it to everything. It’s like a social science of sorts. It’s about how the community works.

“I really want to be a paediatrician, so I decided I wanted to do something related to families and family systems. My teacher, Sheree Moore, was amazing. I was up at midnight weeks before the HSC and she would always reply to me with practical advice.”

Ashleigh Wake, who attended St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove shares a common career goal, hoping to study a Bachelor of Medical Science at Sydney University and eventually become a Pediatric Oncologist.

Ashleigh earned first place in the state for Standard English, which has the second-highest candidature of any HSC subject. She said the creative writing elements of the subject offered a much-needed outlet amidst other content-heavy subjects.

She echoed other student’s praise of supportive teachers, thanking St Ursula’s staff for marking student’s seemingly endless practice essays.

“You’d put in an essay and then it would be out the next day ready with the feedback and everything,” she said. I perceived English to be my weakest subject so I liked the challenge that it gave me. It pushed me to work harder.”

Fellow St Ursula’s student Georgia Spiropoulos came equal first in Business Services Examination, but was not present at the ceremony. It is the third time in four years a Sydney Catholic school student has topped the state in the course.

At the awards, Mr Stokes praised the students’ efforts and their family and friends for supporting them through the HSC, which is internationally recognised for its academic rigour.

He said education was, at its core, a relational pursuit.

“The success may be personal, but what you do with it matters to the broader community,” he said. “Our future across Australia relies upon you using your intelligence, discipline and mastery to serve one another.”

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