HUNTER and Central Coast students have outperformed tens of thousands of their peers to top traditional and vocational courses in the Higher School Certificate.
Lambton High School student Claire Brooks has come first in the state for Earth and Environmental Science, St Philip’s Christian College, Waratah, student Daniel Lee holds the state’s top spot in Construction and TAFE Hunter Institute student Ashlie Fisher came first in the Entertainment Industry exam.
St Joseph’s Catholic College East Gosford student Maddie Doorn has topped the Studies of Religion I exam.
The four students were honoured at a First In Course awards ceremony in Sydney on Tuesday.
Awards were given to 121 students- including 83 young women and 38 young men- in 112 courses.
Daniel, 18, of Maryland said he chose to study Construction to further his plans to work with an aid agency in poverty relief.
”I just always wanted to do it: I did a few mission trips with Aboriginal communities when I was younger and I’ve got a heart for it,” he said.
“I’ve just got back from Vanuatu where I went instead of schoolies to build a playground for a school.”
Daniel said he studied most for Construction because it wasn’t his strongest subject.
“I laughed when I heard I came first, I wasn’t feeling confident about it so I was shocked.”
He has been offered a scholarship to study for a Bachelor of Arts majoring in International Poverty and Development Studies at Avondale College at Cooranbong next year.
Aspiring film director Ashlie Fisher, 18, of Belmont North travelled every Tuesday afternoon from Warners Bay High to TAFE Hunter Institute at Tighes Hill to study Entertainment Industry, in which she now holds a Certificate III qualification.
She volunteered at Starstruck and Newcastle Writer’s Festival as part of her work placement and has applied what she learned to her part time job at Hoyts Charlestown.
“I’ve always loved Steven Spielberg films, so he is a big inspiration,” she said.
“I went well in trials so was pretty confident when I walked into the exam and pretty happy when I came out, but I didn’t expect this, this is amazing.”
She said the award was “the icing on the cake” after being accepted to study at the Australian Film Television and Radio school from next year.
Claire Brooks, 18, of Elemore Vale had to double check there hadn’t been a mistake when told of her achievement.
“I’ve always done pretty well but it was a shock to be first,” she said.
Claire said she had been fascinated by volcanoes, earthquakes and plate tectonics since she was a child.
She used mind maps to remember course content, which she hopes she will continue to build on with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Earth and Environmental Science and geology at the University of Newcastle.
Claire’s father Anthony, also a science enthusiast, passed away this year.
“I know he would be really happy, my mum and sister are proud of me and amazed I did so well.”
Claire was also awarded this year the Reuben F Scarf Award for Commitment to studies and the Ashley Sands Memorial Award for achieving first place in her grade in Earth and Environmental Science.
“I’m a little bit nervous about the results coming out on Wednesday, but excited too.”
Maddie Doorn, 17, of Bateau Bay said she had enjoyed learning about the history of religion, including how it developed and was expressed.
“But I actually put more effort into other subjects, so this was a nice surprise.”
The NSW Institute of Sport scholarship holder divided her time this year between studying and representing her state in basketball, having also been selected to the under 19 Australian squad.
She hopes to study physiotherapy next year at the University of Sydney or the Australian Catholic University.
NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli said HSC courses were demanding and the assessment and examination process was designed to challenge students.
“The HSC is a world- class credential and coming first demonstrates an extremely high level of achievement on an international level.”