It’s been a big week for Josh Murray. Two schools have claimed him as their own and he’s already been offered an apprenticeship on radio since coming first in the state in his Electrotechnology examination.
The Glenbrook student who attends Blaxland High School and the Western Sydney Institute in Mt Druitt achieved the result despite fighting fires for the Rural Fire Service in the middle of the HSC.
“I was actually midway through my engineering exam when I heard sirens screaming past the school,” he said.
“I’m in the Glenbrook/Lapstone RFS so as soon as the exam finished I went down to the station, waited for about two hours, then jumped on a truck and headed straight up to Winmalee.”
Josh did three or four night shifts of backburning and putting out embers as the HSC continued.
His mother, Lisa, said seeing him fighting fires while doing his exams was stressful.
“He was out one full night so I was worried it would affect his studies,” she said.
Getting plenty of media attention for his result, Josh told the Gazette he had “even been offered an [electrician’s] apprenticeship on radio” and was off to the Castle Hill industrial electrical company for an interview this week to hopefully shore up the deal.
His teammates at Blaxland High also performed well, with 165 results in bands six (with a score over 90/100) or five (between 80 and 90/100) from the 114 Year 12 students.
Josh was one of three Mountains students who topped the state in a subject in this year’s HSC, as impressive results were recorded across all schools, despite destruction and disruption caused by the fires.
Katherine Purdy from Faulconbridge came first in Spanish Beginners. She was a student at Wycliffe Christian School at Warrimoo, which was evacuated several times during exams.
“Because of the fires I had to go to Blaxland High for three of my exams. It made it hard to concentrate,” she said.
Katherine is hoping to study nursing at university next year.
The third top performer was Mt Riverview student Grace White from Penrith High School, who came equal first in studies of religion. She also performed well in her other subjects, getting 97/100 in Drama and Modern History and 48/50 for Extension 2 English.
The school’s principal, John Elton, said: “Having students across the entire HSC group perform at a high level is the most pleasing aspect of this year’s HSC. Our Mountains students were again amongst the best performers.”
At other schools, St Columba’s Catholic College at Springwood had more than 75 per cent of their HSC students who achieved in the top two bands — 37 band sixes and 194 band fives and 60 per cent of the students achieved above the state average in their courses.
At Springwood High, three students achieved a band six result in five or more subjects and a further eight students achieved band six or five in all of their subjects.
Principal Robyn Asboth praised the efforts of her HSC students in light of the emotional turmoil and disruption to their preparation and exams many had experienced.
“The students showed great application and commitment in very stressful and difficult circumstances. I am very proud of them all,” she said.
Winmalee High principal Katrina Middlebrook was pleased by the efforts of the 119 students
of 2013, all affected by the fires, adding they had been “treated very fairly by the Board of Studies”.
“One of our students had to sit her Ancient History exam the day after the bushfires, she was moved from Springwood, sat it at the third centre and it was her best result.”
Korowal School’s principal Barbara Fitzgerald said her pupils achieved great results again this year.
“We wish to acknowledge the extraordinary circumstances which all HSC students faced during the bushfires and commend them on their focus and perseverance throughout the examination period.’’
Top results included half the Music 1 class achieving band six, 20 per cent of the Visual Arts students also doing so, as did 20 per cent of Society and Culture students.
At Blue Mountains Grammar, students achieved 58 band six results, with 38 per cent of students gaining at least one of the highest bands.
A spokeswoman said: “One of the most pleasing aspects of the results of this group was that, contrary to recent reports indicating that girls in the 2013 NSW cohort excelled, the top 20 honours at BMGS were shared equally between girls and boys.”
Katoomba High School principal Jennifer Boyall was “thrilled” with the “outstanding” results from her students, saying 20 per cent had achieved bands five and six and results in nine subjects, which was above the state average.
Wycliffe Christian School and Mountains Christian School had both started holidays before the results were released.