After two years peppered with pandemic lockdowns, online learning and constant uncertainty, the class of 2021 today received their HSC results and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).
Two students who were delighted with their performance were former captains of Moss Vale High Matt Kennedy and Makayla Jones, who have their sights firmly set on what this coming year will bring.
Matt was among eight students in his music class who got a Band 6 (over 90 per cent), walking away with a whopping 99 per cent.
His classmate Olivia Jones also scored 99, contributing to her overall ATAR of 92.7, making her dux of her year.
Makayla got a Band 5 in music, and was very happy with her ATAR in the high 70s, but it was her early entry into a range of university degrees that gave her a sense of confidence throughout the exams.
"Early entries took the pressure off for me," Makayla said, saying that after a gap year in 2022, she will choose between an Arts/Law degree at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and offers from four universities for an environmental science degree.
"I want to do something to do with land management.
Meanwhile, Matt is looking forward to kicking off his Bachelor of Creative Arts at UOW in February, majoring in acting, for which he too received early entry.
"I just love being on stage," said the veteran of school musicals, who chose acting over music because he didn't want to be pigeon-holed.
"I want to do something fun and not necessarily what people would expect."
The weight of public expectation possibly hung over him because his mother, Linda Kennedy, is head of Moss Vale High's creative and performing arts department, and was both his and Makayla's music teacher.
Ms Kennedy was thrilled that her class of 14 students excelled in their course.
"I'm so proud of the students," she said.
"In such a difficult year, they've come through so well - I'm ecstatic for them."
Both Matt and Makayla thought the particular strains of studying during the COVID-19 years, including the sudden delay of the HSC exams themselves, 'derailed' some students.
"The stress can get to you," said Makayla.
"You don't have a teacher, you're trying to do the learning on your own - it just became too much for some."
Principal Patricia Holmes expressed her pride in the students.
"As principal I am extremely proud of the impressive results from the 2021 HSC cohort, who all performed well under challenging circumstances," she said.
"I would also like to thank the dedicated teachers who supported our students through the disruptions of the last 2 years.
"I wish the class of 2021 all the very best in their bright futures ahead."
A post on the school's Facebook page commended the students who experienced "two very different and difficult senior years."
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"Whilst the band 6 results are fantastic, there are many other great results across the board with this relatively small cohort collectively achieving over 50 band 5 results (80-89 per cent) across their courses," read the post.
"We also have a large number of students already admitted into university and other tertiary courses via early entry and many more who have already entered the work force into apprenticeships and other career avenues
"Our HSC teachers and students should feel proud of these achievements."
It added that regardless of results, students should feel proud of themselves.
"You all had the drive and tenacity to get through these last two very tough years - and they are pretty fabulous attributes to have," it read.
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