SACE 2021: Finishing school in lockdown

Adelaide's Hussain Hardwarewala and Daniel Sanjivan Jesudason share their experience.

Reading Time: 5 minutes


The class of 2021 talk COVID and (high school) tests


Name: Hussain Hardwarewala

ATAR: 98.15

Subjects: Chemistry, Mathematical Methods, Psychology, Integrated Learning, General English, Research Project, Music Solo Performance, Music Ensemble Performance

School: Rostrevor College, Adelaide

University/Course: Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, James Cook University


Name: Daniel Sanjivan Jesudason


ATAR: 99.25

Subjects: Biology, Mathematical Methods, Psychology, Research Project

School: St Peter’s College, Adelaide


Name: Abhinav Rajan

ATAR: 94.05

Subjects: General English (A+), Physics (A-), Sport Science (A-), Biology (B+)

School: Christian Brothers College, Melbourne

University Course: Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Radiation Therapy)


With your Year 12 now behind you, you’ve probably had opportunity to look back at it all with some wisdom. What did you learn about yourself in the year 2021?

Hussain: Throughout Year 12, I learnt that I work well under pressure when deadlines are approaching. I also learnt that I enjoy learning as I was genuinely interested in my chosen subjects.

Daniel: 2021 was a learning experience unlike any other I have had during my schooling. The challenge of completing Year 11 and Year 12 simultaneously (I was studying four Year 11 subjects and four Year 12 subjects under the SACE curriculum) meant that my workload was significant. However, I learned that with hard work comes rewards. My ambitious goal of achieving a 99+ ATAR as a Year 11 student was quite extreme. People thought I was insane; but just because other people have an opinion, doesn’t mean they are always right. The most successful people can block out others and focus on achieving their goals.

Abhinav Rajan: To not underestimate myself when I’m doing something I have never seen before.


The past two years have caused a lot of uncertainty for students. How did you go about your studies while adapting to a changing health environment?

Hussain: I was lucky enough to not be impacted for the majority of the last two years as I only missed out a week or so of teaching. However, I stayed true to my revision and study process even with lockdowns and isolations which helped me stay disciplined and somewhat on top of my studies.

Daniel: In a constantly changing environment, the best way to approach life is to prepare what you can but be mindful that anything could change at any moment. I utilised the less busy beginning of the year to complete high yield assessment tasks in advance, being fully aware that the latter stages of the year may be significantly disrupted. The rewards of this early ‘grindset’ were evident early; in June I was admitted to hospital with health concerns but I was able to stay uptodate with my peers as I had put in the work earlier. This meant that, despite missing two weeks of school, I was equally (and often more) prepared than all my classmates.

Abhinav: I played a lot of basketball and badminton at school and watched a lot of anime to help me pass some time.


Young people are becoming increasingly aware of news and political affairs. What were your main news sources throughout the year?

Daniel: Social media such as Twitter and Instagram. Whether political, sporting or health-based news, these outlets were influential to my understanding of the world around me.

Hussain: Channel 7 news on the TV and on Instagram were my two main sources. The ABC News app on my phone was also used quite a bit.

Abhinav: My main sources of news were the news programs on TV but sometimes I would get information through other social media accounts.


After online classes, are you Team Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout or other?

Abhinav: Having used Microsoft Teams the most I would pick it, but Zoom is probably easier to use.

Hussain: I prefer Microsoft Teams as documents and videos can be stored, while having the ability to connect with a range of different people through video calls.

Daniel: Team Zoom. 100%.


What extra-curricular activities, hobbies, or TV shows helped you through the past two years?

Hussain: Tennis, cricket, playing the saxophone, and watching YB shows such as The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, were great escapes from the pressures of school and assignments.

Daniel: Music played a big role in offsetting my heavy and somewhat intensive academic workload. I was in several musical groups including orchestras and bands, and played the saxophone, clarinet and piano through various parts of the year. Sport also played a massive role in helping me to relax; watching Rishabh Pant’s match-winning innings at the Gabba was a fantastic way to start the year.

In 2021 I also managed to keep busy through philanthropical work. I participated in fundraising events for my non-profit of choice, UNICEF. This led to me being elected as a UNICEF Ambassador, and UNICEF Young Ambassador for South Australia. In this role I have been encouraged to consider the problems faced by young people around the country and internationally, and am endeavouring to make a positive contribution to the world.

My latest UNICEF project is the Red Zone Crisis Appeal, aiming to raise funds for disadvantaged youth in less-economically developed nations, particularly those facing hunger crises and malnourishment. More information about my fundraising efforts and an opportunity to donate can be found on my UNICEF Australia fundraising profile.


Do you think nerds rule the world?

Hussain: Yes, we’re all nerds about something or the other.

Abhinav: No. Anyone can.

Daniel: The word ‘nerd’ has somewhat of a negative connotation. One of my classmates was publicly called out for being a nerd…but it made me think. This person is a talented musician, athlete and debater, and one of the most genuine, kindest human beings I’ve ever known. No amount of academic brilliance can take that away. While nerds may not rule the world, those that are kind, and those that work hard, most certainly will.


What moments from 2021 do you remember most fondly?

Daniel: The feeling of relief after my end-of-year Physics exam is one that will resonate with me forever. Having completed six exams over the previous couple of weeks, I was mentally and physically drained. Aside from this, spending time with friends was fulfilling. The contribution of my friends and family to my academic development cannot be understated. For that, I am perpetually grateful.

Abhinav: Spending Formal with my friends and the bonds I formed with them.

Hussain: Year 12 Retreat, Year 12 Graduation, Year 12 Formal, and most of all the banter amongst teachers and students in the classroom.


What would your advice to future final year students be?

Abhinav: Cherish it. Don’t spend your whole time studying but also don’t slack off completely.

Hussain: Enjoy it! Don’t stress too much about assignments and tests. They will work themselves out, but you might miss out on the best schooling year if you are too focused on grades, ATAR and uni admission. Balance is key.

Daniel: The best students are those who enter Year 12 prepared. Before your first day of school, make sure that you know your course inside-out. Know the structure and what is expected. Don’t be afraid to talk to past students to seek advice and ask questions. Make the most of your teachers; positive, meaningful relationships with them can support you, fostering a community of academic success.


Favourite quote from a teacher?

Hussain: “Nooo!!!!’’ – on many sentences of my English drafts.

Daniel: “The future belongs to those who prepare for it.”


Describe your final year in three words.

Hussain: Fun. Stress. Memories.

Abhinav: Exciting. Fun. Eventful.

Daniel: To be continued…

READ ALSO: HSC 2021: Finishing school in lockdown

Manan Luthra
Manan Luthra
Writer, cricket fan, gin and tonic enthusiast. Emerging journalist passionate about art, sport, and education

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