It’s a nervous week for students in South Australia, NSW and Queensland as recent graduates receive their final ATAR marks and ranking for the year.
Despite a shaky year, five students managed to top the state in the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) 2020, being labelled the ‘perfect five’.
Among the five were two Greeks, Paras Stefanopoulos and Martina Theodorakakos, who each achieved A+ results in at least five subjects including the research project for their SACE.
Paras and Martina, along with Giovanni Elias, Oliver Kleinig and Shreyans Sinhal, achieved Australian Tertiary Admission Rank scores above 99.9.
“These five remarkable students achieved the pinnacle of academic achievement,” SACE Board chief executive Martin Westwell said to Adelaide Now.
The class of 20290 had “stared down the challenge of COVID-19”, he said.
“They learnt so much – not just about the subjects in the SACE but (about) themselves, who they are, what they’re capable of and how they can adapt to change,” he said.
“And how they can be changemakers themselves.”
Paras, 18, from St Michael’s College, does computer programming as a hobby – which dovetailed with his strong science subject mix and research project into what extent artificial intelligence will influence the future.
“The answer to that is complex, there’s no right or wrong” he said.
“We have a long way to go but once the ball starts rolling it’ll grow rapidly.”
He has applied to study advanced computer science at Adelaide.
Martina, 18, from Walford Anglican School for Girls, has applied to study law and advanced economics at Adelaide or Sydney. At stressful times, she remained focused by not thinking about the ATAR, rather “thinking about what’s next in life”.
Martina worked at a bakery and found time for family and friends.
“I wasn’t cooped up in my room,” she said.
She did her research project on the organ transplant system because her “biggest supporter”, her dad, John, had needed a kidney transplant but endured a wait of more than two years.
“I want to make changes in a lot of areas where females aren’t well represented,” she said.
“I’m quite a confident person but I do find a lot of girls shy away and leave it to the boys when they should be up there.”