St Patrick's College Sutherland - students of HSCA day before their HSC results are officially released, four Sydney Catholic Schools students are riding a wave of euphoria.

Ashleigh Wake, Georgia Spiropoulos, Nathan Zhou, and Lauren Agostini each topped the state in a HSC course.

They were among the 127 NSW students who received a First in Course Award from NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes acknowledging the achievement at a ceremony held today at The University of NSW. This year more than 70,000 students sat one or more of 118 HSC courses.

St Patrick’s College Sutherland Year 11 student Nathan Zhou, 16, placed equal first in Mathematics, after being part of an accelerated class of about 20 students at his school.

When I first got the call I wasn’t sure it was real.

– Lauren Agostin
He is a term into coursework for Mathematics Extension 2 and will sit the rest of his HSC in 2019.“I’m feeling really good,” 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.

“I like the challenge. The feeling when I get a challenging question right makes me want to do more of the same thing.”

I like the challenge.

– Nathan Zhou
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