Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School

For the Love of Learning: Academic Achievement Assembly

It was an enormous pleasure this week to welcome back some of our Class of 2018 to celebrate their achievements at the HSC. Our Academic Achievement assembly on Wednesday was an opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding work of the whole group whose results placed them at the equivalent of 47th in the state, within the top 5% of high schools in NSW. We invited back three of last year’s students to acknowledge the dedication and hard work that went into their particular individual results:
Maija Tan who scored an ATAR of 99.80, a Distinguished achiever in every subject, including completing Mathematics Extension 2 in Year 10;
Hugo Stackhouse who scored an ATAR of 99.70 and entry to the Dalyell Scholars stream at Sydney University, and who will studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science with majors in Physics and Maths
Richard Nicotra who scored 98.95 and also achieved entry to the Dalyell Scholars stream at Sydney University, also studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science with majors in Physics and Maths.

(The Dalyell Scholar stream is an elite academic stream with a minimum ATAT entry of 98. The scholarship provides travel money for linking up with universities around the world and supports a global leadership network of scholars and researchers. They also both gained entry into the most advanced or SSP level of Physics 1 at USYD.) 

I invited Maija, Hugo and Richard to speak at the assembly to Years 7 to 12, to reflect on their journeys, and to offer any advice or words of wisdom on what they had learned over the past year. They each gave a unique and very personal perspective on their HSC journey. 

Maija started with a kind of legendary take on the subject and spoke about how looking back now, she felt she had “vanquished the dragon of the HSC” as it were. She put their achievement in the context of gratitude for a high school education, something that less than half the world’s teenagers enjoy. Hugo emphasised finding your own way, not necessarily listening to some of the “rules” of study on offer but exploring what will work for your own study style. He also emphasised staying active and keeping up sport. Richard also advised a balanced approach, and mentioned how important talking with friends and teachers were to him in keeping up a commentary on his subjects, and life.

In different ways they all mentioned how they valued the opportunities that their results have been able to offer them, not just for themselves, but for the world. They had hopes of using the opportunities for research so they could contribute to some of the critical issues facing their generation by working on for example, such things as new energy sources or medical breakthroughs.

Later Hugo explained to the Advanced English class what he meant by not following the “rules” of study. Instead of writing endless practice essays that can produce totally formulaic answers without originality, he had learned off by heart over 250 quotes directly from his English texts, and read and reread the texts to master them completely. When he wrote his exam papers, he was answering from “inside” the texts with his own voice and original point of view. This is exactly what the examiners are looking for and his hard work paid off with a very high mark. Not only that, he enjoyed the benefit of immersing himself deeply in quality literature. 

The results were a tribute also to the hard working Glenaeon teachers who had nurtured this group over years, and the “teacher pride” in these students’ achievements was wonderful to behold. The assembly ended with some incredibly energetic Japanese drumming organised by Keiko Sensei and performed by her Years 9 and 10 Japanese classes.

Glenaeon offers a rounded education of the whole person in many different ways and on many levels. But first and foremost we are a school, and academic teaching and learning are “first among equals”. We are a learning community, and when the learning is of such a high standard it is important to acknowledge it publicly. 

Thank you Class of 2018 for your work and dedication! Thank you Maija, Hugo and Richard for sharing your reflections with our high school. You are all, and will I am sure continue to be into the future, an inspiration to us all!