Academic smarts obviously run in this Byford family as twins Max and Caitlyn Morrison both achieved excellent results in their final year of schooling.
The ambitious 17-year-olds graduated from John Wollaston Anglican Community School with amazing results with Caitlyn receiving an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) score of 96.85 and her sibling Max receiving Dux of the school.
Their mother Gail Morrison described the pair’s achievements as absolutely amazing and wished them both nothing but the best for their futures.
“They have always wanted to do their best in whatever it is they take on and it shows in their final results at school,” she said.
“They both have been self-driven, self-motivated and studious kids and I haven’t had to harp at them to do study, they have just always gotten on with it.”
In Caitlyn’s final year of school she chose to study five ATAR subjects including human biology, biology and chemistry and said to herself if she got an ATAR result of less than 90 then she would have been disappointed.
“I get so easily distracted, not necessarily by my phone or games or social media but why am I researching the different types of hydrocarbons when I could be learning about the Second Punic War or something,” she said.
“I didn’t do any extracurricular activities so I’d read books or go on long deep-dive Google searches for information.
“I enjoy researching stuff, so I put a lot of effort into essays and reports and I was able to use them as notes for exams later on.”
Her final year also included a number of other wonderful memories including being a part of the group that founded the school’s very first LGBTQAI+ group, being recognised by her peers ads the first to likely become an author and a very special final service at the school’s chapel.
“The prefects nominated some students to give speeches and I ended up being nominated to give one and there were lots and lots of tears that night,” she said.
“It’s the most emotional final chapel service they’ve had in a long time.
“We usually do what’s called ‘sharing of the peace’ where we shake hands and say ‘may the peace be with you/and also with you,’ but it was a lot more hugging than handshaking that night.”
Max decided to study vocational education and training (VET) subjects in year 12, which meant he had four days at school and one day learning at Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
When his name was called as the Dux of 2019 Max admits he didn’t more or get up straight away, instead it took a fellow student to physically push him out of his chair to receive the prestigious award.
“I had no idea what Dux meant, I knew really smart people got it but the big awards were always awarded to the people who took ATAR,” he said.
“Getting my other awards my knees were weak, but I could barely stand, all I can remember was finding my mum in the audience and smiling at the teachers in front who God knows I couldn’t have done it with out them.”
From his experience Max said he recommends studying VET as it allowed him and his other peers to study in an “adult” environment.
“You’re still able to get into university and TAFE with so many other options such as bridging courses, etc,” he said.
“I studied Animal Studies Certificate II at Peel TAFE in Mandurah, which has prepared me for studding at Notre Dame University.
“It also allows students to work in an industry of their choosing, whether it be behind the desk work or outside laying bricks or for me rehabilitating wildlife and working in the industry I hope to work in the future.”
The talented graduates are now looking forward to university as Caitlyn aims for a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Archaeology and History at the University of Notre Dame while Max will take a bridging course to enable him to pursue studies in Conservation and Land Management.
Max also wishes to pursue a Certificate III in Captive Animals through the Taronga Training Institute, which will give him hands-on experience and hopefully open doors for him in the industry.
Outside of study and on a more personal level, Caitlyn would love to continue to pursue her writing schools with the aim of one day seeing one of her own books up on the shelves, while Max would like to make a name for himself and help create good change for the planet.
He said he would like to follow in the footsteps of others such as David Attenborough and the Irwin’s and continue to help save the environment.
“I want to see humans right the wrong, to fix their mistakes and better themselves, we call ourselves wise, yet we’re destroying our home and the home of millions of other species, and politics are sticking a Band-Aid over it,” he said.