A total of 3661 students from Catholic schools completed the SACE last year, with 314 Subject Merit Awards achieved. Four hundred of these students also completed a Vocational Education and Training (VET) Certificate 3 qualification.
On average, across each Catholic school 27 per cent of all subject grades achieved by students were in the A band.
Eighteen students successfully gained their International Baccalaureate Diploma, obtaining 13 merits, while the efforts of eight students from Catholic colleges were recognised with a Governor of South Australia Commendation (see story Page 17).
Leading the list of high achievers were Benjamin Fitzgerald from St Michael’s College and St Ignatius’ College’s Cassandra Larobina who both attained the highest possible Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of 99.95. Cassandra achieved six subject merits and Benjamin received five.
While the Duxes and Proxime Accessits contacted by The Southern Cross were all delighted with their individual achievements, most agreed it was the Year 12 experience that they would cherish.
As Matilda Coolen (St Mary’s College Dux, 98.35) said. “I know that when I look back at 2017 it’s not the number I’ll remember most, it’ll be everything that happened before and everything that made it possible”. Special moments included fun with her school friends at the swimming carnival, chanting the school song, the classroom jokes and “lunchtime rush to use the microwave and kettle”, as well as “getting excitedly nervous” over university and TAFE applications.
Her advice to students heading into Year 12 was “to not necessarily aim to be the best, just do your best and see what amazing things come from that”.
Co-Proxime Accessit for Sacred Heart College, Sean Taylor (99.30), also had some wise words.
“I got pretty bogged down by the workload and started to feel quite down and overwhelmed. But I made sure to talk to all my teachers at Sacred Heart who were more than willing to help and they all accommodated for my feelings to help make it easier for me during the year…,” he said.
Louis McDonald (St Francis de Sales Dux, 98.05) hopes his studies in food sciences and human movement at UniSA will be the stepping stone to becoming a nutritionist at an elite sports club. He said it was important students didn’t place “too much stress and pressure” on obtaining a certain ATAR.
“Don’t think about the final result during the year, just produce work that you’re happy with and the results will follow,” he said.
Organisation and time management were other ‘necessities’ highlighted by the top achievers, as was resilience.
Lawson Nitschke, (Rostrevor College Dux, 99.65), had to juggle his studies with swimming training and school commitments of football, cross country, swimming and athletics.
“My advice for people in similar situations is to take on the challenge head on and back yourself. Also, when things are looking tough, be resilient. Resilience is key to remain on top of everything and achieve your very best, even when things are looking drastically unsatisfactory.”
While some have opted for a gap year to undertake travel, work and volunteering in 2018, many students are heading to university.
Their areas of interest are as diverse as their study habits, ranging from medicine, law, engineering, psychology, science, food sciences, human movement, international relations, mathematical science, biochemistry, architecture, information technology and music.
Lucy Keatch (Gleeson College Dux, 99.75) is an example of a student following her dreams.
She is using her gap year to pursue a career as a visual artist, to “receive commission work and make connections in the industry”. She then hopes to study contemporary art at UniSA and fine arts at the Victorian College of Arts in 2019.
“I want to be an artist and just because I received a 99+ ATAR will not change this.
“People have this view in their heads about people who receive high scoring ATARs and the career paths that follow, but I want to pursue a career that makes me feel alive and makes me beyond happy every day,” she said.
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