Hunter's Higher School Certificate stars: four top the state

​On your marks: Seraina Danuser and Jacob Wallace, who said his keys to success were being able to prioritise, manage time and know when it's time for a break. He balanced study with riding dirt bikes. Picture: Simone De Peak
​On your marks: Seraina Danuser and Jacob Wallace, who said his keys to success were being able to prioritise, manage time and know when it's time for a break. He balanced study with riding dirt bikes. Picture: Simone De Peak

HUNTER students have been praised as some of the country’s standout academic performers after they topped the state in four Higher School Certificate subjects.

Newcastle Grammar’s Seraina Danuser received first place in Design and Technology, while Mount View High’s Jacob Wallace came first in Electrotechnology, which he completed through TAFE NSW Maitland.

Merewether High’s Owen Small outsmarted his peers in Geography and Maitland Grossmann High’s Alexandra Fletcher achieved the number one spot in Visual Arts.

The quartet were among the 120 students from 85 schools recognised at a First in Course ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday.

Seraina, 18, said the honour was “unexpected”.

“I’m still quite shocked,” she said.

“I didn’t think I’d know anyone – let alone be the person – to receive first place in the state.” 

Seraina Danuser with her table and stools.

Seraina Danuser with her table and stools.

She said she was “adamant” about completing a major work to help make the exam period “less stressful” and chose the subject because her older sister had enjoyed it. 

“It’s a different kind of concentration and you put more time into it because you can see you’re making progress.”

She spent all of the subject’s classes, as well as free periods and some lunchtimes, afternoons and holidays completing the major work – a table and two stools constructed using a vacuum press from Bendy Ply and covered in American Walnut, for the cafe where she used to work. 

“My written exam was my last one and only 90 minutes,” she said. 

“I was relaxed and it was definitely better than past papers.”

Seraina hopes to travel to Europe next year and study chiropractic science at Macquarie University in 2019.

Jacob said Electrotechnology piqued his interest early and he felt it could be helpful for a future career.

“It was my strongest subject and just came naturally,” he said.

“But I was not expecting this at all – I thought I’d finish the HSC and that would be the end of it.

“I knew I seemed to be good at it but I didn’t realise I was that much in front – there was only one other person in my class! 

“But it was the only exam I went home actually thinking ‘I did alright’.”

Jacob will start an electrician apprenticeship at Bulga open-cut mine in January.

Owen and his family were absent from the ceremony.

Alexandra is on holidays in Europe with her parents and twin sister, Charlotte. Her cousin, Lucy Grummitt, accepted her award on her behalf.

“I haven’t spoken to her properly about it but I think she is pretty stoked," Ms Grummitt said.

“Her family is very arty and the twins have always been creative.”

Students will receive their subject results from 6am on Thursday.

The HSC Results Inquiry Centre, 1300 13 83 23, will open from 8am.

Students will receive their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) on Friday.