Melbourne, December 22: As record number of Victorian students completed their Victorian Certificate of Education in 2016, only 35 students managed the perfect ATAR of 99.95 out of a total of 49,765 students, who completed the final chapter in their school lives.

Haileybury College with one of its campuses in Melbourne’s North and Penleigh and Essendon Grammar in the West, were the clear winners in the race to the top with five students from each school receiving the perfect ATAR of 99.95.

Haileybury College claimed 33 perfect study scores of 50 while PEGS achieved a median ATAR of 88.00, placing 50 per cent of its students in the top 12 per cent of the state.

Sohil Chhabra and Madhavi-Priya Singh of Penleigh and Essendon and Anant Butala and Manoj Liyana Arachige of Haileybury College were the 4 Indian-origin students who celebrated an achievement of the perfect ATAR of 99.95.

Their picture perfect academic achievement of being in the top 0.05 per cent of students in Australia; is simultaneously supported with their excellence in diverse hobbies ranging from Sports to Public Speaking.

Madhavi-Priya with above 40 scores in English, Chemistry, Specialist Mathematics and a perfect 50 in Mathematical Methods attributed her success to her school.

“My school, Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, was a large part of the reason I was able to achieve my potential. My teachers provided me with constant support and encouragement…,” Madhavi-Priya said talking to BT.

“However, drive and commitment must come from within.

“It was both my own personal motivation as well as support from my teachers and parents that helped me achieve success”, she said.

Parents of Madhavi-Priya, Shailendra Singh and Dr Shobhna Singh are proud of her achievements, “especially for someone who has maintained a broad participation in extra-curricular activities as well,” said Mr Singh.

Apart from participating in numerous Maths, Science and Language competitions, Madhavi-Priya has represented her school in First XI Soccer, Volleyball, Hockey and Swimming.

In 2015 Madhavi-Priya was selected to attend 2016 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in Canberra and also represented her school at the 2014 Shanghai International Youth Science and Technology Expo in China.

And through this all, her compassionate work for refugees continued as she tutored young children who came to Australia as refugees.

“This activity was very rewarding as I was able to help children who were struggling with school and give back to the community which has supported me in many ways”.

Offered scholarships by both University of Melbourne and Monash University, Madhavi-Priya is keen to study medicine for her undergraduate degree.

“I see myself as a doctor, hopefully carrying out cutting edge research” in the next 10 years, Madhavi-Priya visualised.

Sohil Chhabra of Penleigh and Eeeendon passed with 99.95 ATAR
Sohil Chhabra of Penleigh and Essendon Grammar finished VCE 2016 with 99.95 ATAR

Sohil Singh Chhabra of the same school joins Madhavi-Priya with a perfect 50 in Mathematical Methods and above 40 scores in Chemistry, English, German and Specialist Mathematics.

He has also been offered a fully paid scholarship by Melbourne University.

Hrishikesh Goradia of Scotch College and Manoj Liyana Arachige of Haileybury College are the others, who will be able to take advantage of fully paid scholarships under the National Scholarship Program at University of Melbourne.

The scholarship is available for students who achieve an ATAR or equivalent of 99.9 or above and are also given a $5,000 annual allowance for the duration of their degree.

Hrishikesh with a perfect 50 in English and Manoj achieving 50 in Chemistry have also excelled in extra-curricular activities and leadership roles within the school community.

A prolific speaker, debater and a joint Duce of Haileybury College, Anant Butala not only scored the perfect ATAR but also got a perfect 50 in Further Mathematics.

gift of the gab
gift of the gab – Anant Butala of Haileybury College is tomorrow’s leader having completed VCE in 2016 with 99.95 ATAR

With his gift of the gab, Anant claimed the 2015 World Champion in Impromptu Speaking at the 28th World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Competition on the topic of ‘East Meets West’.

Anant was one of 10 young students from across Australia selected for the national team for the meet in Hong Kong involving 109 students from 12 countries.

With similar diverse interests and hobbies, many other Indian origin students have shone in the 2016 VCE, including Evan Chauhan of Nossal High School in Berwick.

With above 40 scores in Chemistry, English and Specialist Mathematics and a 99.50 ATAR, Evan like Madhavi-Priya, also highlights “effort” as the single criteria for success.

“Whilst motivation was crucial, ultimately it was my own effort which allowed me to progress.

“Don’t get me wrong, motivation is very important, but it’s getting down in the mud and doing the work… whether practise exams, redrafting written pieces… that truly makes the difference”.

"you get back what you put in"
“you get back what you put in”: Evan Chauhan of Nossal High achieved a 99.50 ATAR

While his play-study times were a bit unstructured up until year 11, beyond then although his playstation and favourite TV shows – Rick and Morty, Community and Game of Thrones continued, Evan structured his study and free time.

“Amidst everything that happened in the last two years, I can proudly say I never completely cut watching T.V out of my life”.

Looking forward to careers as diverse as “a practicing lawyer… an MD, who also works as massage therapist… or a psychologist, trying to rehabilitate prisoners,” Evan is happy when he follows his instincts.

From his study time-table to being a neo-practising Hindu, he “incorporates” only what he believes in.

“After my trip to India… I did try to incorporate more of my background into my life, for example not eating meat on Tuesdays and not eating Beef.”

“It’s not like… my parents expected a lot of me because of our background, they expected a lot of me because they thought I was capable of delivering”, Evan said crediting his parents for all the support, help and independence through his VCE.

Evan’s selective-entry state school Nossal High recorded its highest ever ATAR result of 99.9; a median ATAR of 90.95 and 8 students scoring a perfect 50 in VCE 2016.

Other students from Nossal High with above 40 scores include Rohit Bawa who has completed year 11 in 2016 with Mathematical Methods and Accounting as his two accelerated subjects.

But throughout his first year of VCE, he continued to play Footy for his local team and deftly balanced his time “training and studying fairly well”.

He will also bear the position of Treasurer for Nossal High’s SRC (student representative council) in 2017.

He hopes to apply to Monash University at Clayton “for a double degree in commerce and engineering” and then go on to starting his own business.

Sahil Bhondi accelerated in two year 12 subjects – Further Mathematics and Psychology with above 40 scores and hopes to study medicine at Monash University.

A video game addict, while Sahil does not intend giving this addiction, he believes “physical exercise is key to academic success”.

“It has helped me to keep my body active and alert to allow me to concentrate on my school work”. He exercises an hour a day, whether playing Basketball or Soccer or going for a run.

Raghav Sharma is interested in studying bio-medicine or law and has currently completed year 11 with above 40 scores in his accelerated subjects – Philosophy and Global Politics. 

With a largely structured time-table around his extra-curricular activities and studies, Raghav continues to play basketball at both domestic and representative level for 5 days a week.

“I also worked a weekend job, refereeing basketball matches for my local association,” although he intends to put more focus into his “academic pursuits” in year 12. He sees himself working as a lawyer specialising in commercial law.

Comparable to the boys, Sowmiya Sathiyaseelan accelerated in her year 11, with above 40 scores in 3 subjects – English, Further Mathematics and Psychology.

14,649 high achieving students received a study score of 40 or more in a subject.

Notably, high achievers of south-Asian descent are proud to call themselves Australians of Indian origin but when it comes to excelling; their background is never a factor.

“Throughout my entire high school experience I was surrounded by supportive people who never judged me because of my background,” said Madhavi-Priya echoing the similar sentiments as Raghav who said that the VCE system being largely objective, his success “was not aided or hindered by my South Asian descent”.

That measures up to Anand Bharadwaj of Trinity Grammar, who scored perfect 50 in French and Biology in 2016 and has only completed year 10, this year.

Having completed Mathematical Methods, Specialist Mathematics and Physics in previous years, Anand is the boy to watch out in 2017 VCE.

14,649 students achieved at least one study score of 40 or above, making them the top 9 per cent of the state in a particular subject. More than 500 students of Indian origin are in this esteemed bracket. (see table below)

24 boys and 11 girls achieved the ultimate Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of 99.95.

Although, boys dominated the top tier in VCE 2016, outnumbering girls in perfect score stakes, girls have ruled with the highest average tertiary with 66.45 compared to 63.76 for boys.

These high achievers who spoke to Bharat Times, had one common factor – DEDICATION and structured days, to achieve a balanced study-play time table.

As Evan said, “Really, you get out approximately what you put in!”

Ramakrishna VenuGopal

feature image: Madhavi-Priya of Penleign and Essendon achieved perfect ATAR of 99.95 in her VCE in 2016

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