2018 HSC NSW First in Course students rewarded at ceremony

Proud as punch: Ashleigh Wake (St Ursula's Kingsgrove, first in English Standard, Ze Hong (Nathan) Zhou (St Patrick's College, equal first in Mathematics), Lauren Agostini (Aquinas College, equal first in Community and Family Studies)
Proud as punch: Ashleigh Wake (St Ursula's Kingsgrove, first in English Standard, Ze Hong (Nathan) Zhou (St Patrick's College, equal first in Mathematics), Lauren Agostini (Aquinas College, equal first in Community and Family Studies)

A total of 11 of the brightest students in NSW are from St George and Sutherland Shire schools – and they have the title of “first” to prove it.

At a ceremony on Wednesday they were among the 127 students from 92 schools represented in this year’s “best in the state” awards held by NSW Education Standards Authority.

These students received academic prizes for coming first in a HSC subject.

More than 70,000 students sat one or more of 118 HSC courses this year. An equal number of government and non-government schools – 46 of each – were recognised.

St George students, who perform traditionally well in languages, took out top spots in Indonesian, Greek, Spanish and Macedonian. Those four students were among the 19 recipients who attended community language schools.

Competing against his older peers, St Patrick College Sutherland’s Ze Hong (Nathan) Zhou 16, tied for first place in Mathematics. 

The year 11 student was part of an accelerated class of about 20 students at his school. He is studying Mathematics Extension 2, and will sit the rest of his HSC 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,” 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.”

English, the only compulsory subject in the HSC – which makes the stakes much higher for a first place score, was secured by St Ursula’s College’s Ashleigh Wake.

She said the creative writing elements of the subject offered a much-needed outlet amidst other content-heavy subjects.

“I perceived English to be my weakest subject so I liked the challenge that it gave me, it pushed me to work harder,” she said.

Ashleigh wants to study medical science at Sydney University, and become a paediatric oncologist.

Equal first in Community and Family Studies (CAFS), Aquinas College’s Lauren Agostini, would like to become a paediatrician and study pre-medicine at the University of Wollongong.

“I liked that CAFS is real-world based, so I could relate it to everything,” she said. “It’s about how the community works. I decided I wanted to do something related to families and family systems.”

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

Education Minister Stokes praised students’ efforts, and their family and friends for supporting them through the HSC.

“The success may be personal, but what you do with it matters to the broader community,” he said.

“I congratulate not just these winners, but all of this year’s HSC recipients for their dedication, perseverance and hard work.

“Recipients from these schools come from a diverse range of backgrounds. What unites them is their talent, intelligence and excellent school support networks.

“I am proud to see the HSC successes across NSW schools, thanks to the hard work of teachers and families in supporting and nurturing our talented students.”

HSC results are released at 6am on Thursday.


Victoria Jessamine – Menai High School and Georgia Spiropoulos – St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove, Business Services examination

Lauren Agostini – Aquinas Catholic College, Community and Family Studies

Ashleigh Wake – St Ursula’s College, English (Standard)

Angelina Newton – Woolooware High School, Indonesian Continuers

Sasha Bindu Patterson Rajak – St George Girls High School, Japanese Extension

Emily Kasovska – Saturday School of Community Languages; Kogarah High School, Macedonian Continuers

Ze Hong Zhou – St Patrick’s College Sutherland, Mathematics

Chrysanthi Diasinos – Blakehurst High School, Modern Greek Beginners

Tarryn Hamment – Georges River Grammar, Retail Services Examination

Juliana Velasquez – Saturday School of Community Languages; Kogarah High School, Spanish Continuers