TAKING ON CHALLENGE: Abbie Smith, Ben Zietsch, Jemma Clark, Briony Moore and Ben Piper with teacher Tracey Patterson at Grafton High School. The students are in Year 10 and doing accelerated classes, meaning they have started their HSC studies a year earlier than most students. PHOTO: JOJO NEWBY
TAKING ON CHALLENGE: Abbie Smith, Ben Zietsch, Jemma Clark, Briony Moore and Ben Piper with teacher Tracey Patterson at Grafton High School. The students are in Year 10 and doing accelerated classes, meaning they have started their HSC studies a year earlier than most students. PHOTO: JOJO NEWBY

They’ve upgraded to HSC

IN HER 23 years of teaching, Tracey Patterson has never come across a group of students as incredible as this.

Five Year 10 students, Ben Piper, Abbie Smith, Jemma Clark, Ben Zietsch and Briony Moore are just 16, but have already begun their HSC studies.

Next year, they'll join students from the grade above them to sit their HSC exams.

The students are a select group who have been accelerated through their education at Grafton High School.

In 2010, the school became the first partially selective school on the North Coast.

Abbie, Jemma, Ben, Briony and Ben are the first batch of students to go through the selective class.

They were expected to sit their HSC exams in 2015, but have fast-tracked their studies for some subjects.

History teacher Simon Robertson explained that the school saw great potential in each of the kids.

"Intellectually, they were ready for something new and interesting and challenging," he said.

"They were definitely ready for it... they're Year 10 students, but they're studying alongside the Year 11 students.

"... and they're topping those classes too, despite being a year younger than their peers."

"It had been offered to us, and we wanted to prove that we deserved it," Jemma said.

Briony will sit her Ancient History HSC exam next year, and said it would allow her to focus on her other subjects in 2015.

"Mr Robertson and Mrs Patterson have been really supportive and enthusiastic... they would drop everything and do anything for us," Jemma said.

"Our class has become like a family."

Mrs Patterson was beaming with pride as she spoke of her students.

"They're very humble and supportive of each other... there's also a healthy bit of rivalry between them too."



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