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Northern beaches students pass on their advice | Northern Beaches Review

‘UNPRECEDENTED’: Lauren Bell, Tom Gerrans, Milla Papallo, Anfisa Matsak and Max Oldham. Picture: Geoff Jones

COMPLETING their HSC in an inordinately challenging year, the class of 2021 have demonstrated immense resilience and flexibility.

Schools across the Beaches triumphed, with Northern Beaches Secondary College Manly top ranked at number 7. In the top 100, St Luke’s Grammar School placed 41st, NBSC Balgowlah Boys 72nd, St Augustine’s College 73rd, and Stella Maris College 96th. Oxford Falls was 115th and NBSC Mackellar Girls placed 125th, or ninth public school in the state.

Tom Gerrans, dux of St Augustine’s, achieved a 99.9 ATAR and said although 2021 was pretty tough, he was proud of his achievements. “We weren’t sure if our exams would go ahead at one stage and then they were pushed back, there were many obstacles and a lot of what we went through was first,” he said. With aspirations to be a writer, Tom’s major works included a film and a short story. He is off to Sydney University for a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies in Media and Communications.

Anfisa Matsak of Pittwater House scored an ATAR of 94.1, excelling in English and Economics. The dux of the college said she had to adopt new strategies for remote learning. “I had to allow extra time to prepare mentally and regularly changed my work environment so as not to feel stuck,” Anfisa said. “Exercising, Facetime with friends and talking to my family helped me make sure my mental state was in a stable spot.” She has been accepted into Sydney University for a double degree in Economics and Law: her “dream course”.

Catholic schools achieved their best HSC results ever, with 11 of 33 schools ranked among the top 100 high schools in NSW. Lauren Bell, captain of Mater Maria Catholic College, stressed the importance of both seeking help from teachers and looking out for peers. “It was sad we didn’t get to experience the camaraderie that Year 12 usually brings, but 2021 taught me how to face challenges which will also be a part of real life and in the workforce,” Lauren, who scored 86.95, said. She will study Diagnostic Radiography at the University of Newcastle.

Max Oldham of NBSC Manly received a Band 6 in all his subjects, including Maths Advanced. “I was nervous getting my results but also felt pretty confident,” Max said. “I’ve just been offered a place to study Physiotherapy at Sydney University, which I had my sights set on.”

Milla Papallo attended NBSC Mackellar, receiving an ATAR of 97.75. She will study Medical Science at ANU, with a scholarship. Although she often felt disheartened, Milla said keeping to a routine – and keeping her other passions – got her through.

“The hardest thing was being online all day for classes and then staying at my desk to continue studying in the afternoon,” she said. “Keeping up my other passions really helped, like netball training and Zoom calls with friends.”

Advice from graduates to Class of 2022

This year may bring a different experience for Year 12 students, but here are some tips from the departing class for the next cohort, as they strive to tackle their HSC.

“As important as it is make sure you understand everything and do extra study when needed, it’s about balance – staying relaxed is just as important as being prepared.” – Max Oldham of Northern Beaches Secondary College, Manly Campus

My advice to other students would be to do as many practice responses and past papers as you can and keep up your other interests so you can be more productive… mental health is the biggest priority.” – Milla Papallo, Northern Beaches Mackellar Girls Campus

“Find a study plan that works for you, but make sure you leave enough time for the activities you enjoy so you can be more productive and focused when you study.” – Hanako Greuter, Northern Beaches Secondary College Mackellar Girls Campus

“I encourage the class of 2022 to remember that hard work pays off, even if it sometimes feels like you are not achieving the results you want.” – Lauren Bell, Mater Maria Catholic College

“Make sure you have a good network to talk to as it is definitely tough. It’s so important to connect with friends going through the same things.” – Tom Gerrans, St Augustine’s College

“Stay organised, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. At the end of the day, exams are not a life or death situation, so take time to relax and remember there will also be other pathways to do what you want to do.” – Anfisa Matsak, Pittwater House.

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