Regional “villages” inspire HSC success

Across regional and remote NSW, 2021 HSC students and schools celebrate their results, write Vivienne Jones and Julee Brienen.

A class of students in two lines for a formal school photo A class of students in two lines for a formal school photo
Image: The class of 2021: Wee Waa High School’s HSC cohort.

Regional and rural students from all corners of the state were among the high achievers in the 2021 HSC.

Public high schools extending from the southern border and north to the Queensland border all featured on HSC merit lists released last week.

In the Riverina lockdowns and state border closures did not stop students from all three Albury public high schools – Albury, James Fallon and Murray high schools - being named on the Distinguished Achievers list with a band six result.

Albury High School principal Darryl Ward said credit for the result was due to the partnership between staff, students and parents.

“They did exceptionally well considering the border closures and lockdowns they had to navigate in the final two years of schooling,” he said.

“We had eight students achieve an ATAR of 90 or above with the dux of the school Campbell McTernan receiving an ATAR of 99.”

Campbell’s mother Narelle Vogel said their family were strong advocates for what public education offered.

“Not only is each and every student supported in their learning, they are also engaged in a community that reflects society in all its diversity,” she said.

“This sets us all up for an inclusive and equitable future.

“Thanks to Glenroy Public and Albury High for all of the opportunities that you have offered to Campbell. It takes a village to support our young people.”

Billabong High School at Culcairn, just north of Albury, had six of their 36 students receive a band six result in one or more subjects.

Some of the top results outside metropolitan Sydney included Gosford High School student Bodhi McNally receiving First in Course in Investigating Science and Merewether High School students Delta Hateley and Sophie Loiselle first in the State in Earth and Environmental Science and Society and Culture respectively.

On the Queensland border Kingscliff High School student Jadzia Wolff was a joint first-in-course winner in drama.

A group of students stand together facing the camera A group of students stand together facing the camera
Image: Making the grade: 2021 HSC students mark the end of their school years.

Results reflect resilience

In the State’s west Dubbo College had 16 students receive Band Six results, while Orange High School was celebrating 11 students with Band Six results.

In Tamworth, Oxley High School student Anastasia Smyth topped the school with an ATAR of 99.7 and was named an HSC All-Rounder, receiving a Band Six result in 10 units.

Wee Waa High School, in the central north of the State, was celebrating the high results of its graduating class with two of the 17 students receiving Band Six results.

Principal Annabel Doust said she was proud of each student’s results and the teachers for their outstanding leadership.

“I am exceptionally proud of our teachers and the way they have nurtured and developed their students’ knowledge and preparedness for the HSC,” she said.

“Of the 17 students in Year 12, all who were wanting to go to university were awarded early entry and many students already have secured their ideal job.

“During Year 11 and Year 12, our HSC students had two phases of learning from home due to COVID, and several stints due to the mould issue we had at the old high school.

“I look at our Year 12 students’ results and I see resilience, determination and perseverance.”

Southern stars

Illawarra and South Coast schools also achieved impressive HSC results including Smiths Hill High School’s Charlotte McKenzie who achieved a First In Course for History Extension.

Charlotte also received a band six for all eight HSC subjects putting her on the prestigious All-Rounders List.

Charlotte credited her success to hard work, finding a balance between study and other activities, the academic and well-being support of the school, and to her outstanding History Extension teacher Miss Heka.

“She was spectacular,” Charlotte said.

“We would talk about historians and different issues occurring throughout the world. She made it fun. We had a great time because of her teaching style and beautiful nature. She really pushed me to achieve.”

Smiths Hill High School also had another six students who made the All-Rounders List including William Attwood, Sarah Louise Gowers, Miranda Green, Ashtyn Maher, Annika Oakley, and Eloise Taylor.

Annika Oakley also took the distinction of achieving the highest ATAR (99.75) of any student at an Illawarra school.

Smiths Hill High School principal David Dietz said the attributes of students who had experienced success in the 2021 HSC were the same of those who had been successful in the past and those who would be successful in the future.

“Hard work and time studying, perseverance - not giving up when trying to solve problems - and a positive learning culture, family and or school, are the attributes evident in all highly successful students, regardless of the school that they attend,” Mr Dietz said.

“In 2021, the attribute of perseverance was even more important in successfully navigating the impact that COVID-19 had on schools and student learning.”

In total Smiths Hill High School had a total of 62 students who made the Distinguished Achievers List.

Another nine schools in the Illawarra had multiple students who made the list including Wollongong High School of Performing Arts and Bulli, Keira, Woonona, Figtree, Warilla, Kiama, Dapto and Albion Park high schools.

In the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands, students at Bomaderry, Bowral, Moss Vale, Nowra, Vincentia, and Ulladulla high schools excelled with numerous students on the Distinguished Achievers List.

In the South, Far South, Queanbeyan, and Snowy areas Moruya, Narooma, Bega, Young, Karabar, Tumut and the Finigan School of Distance Education all had multiple students achieving Band 6.

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