Refugees, migrants celebrate HSC results

It’s a make or break moment for many, but students at Holroyd High School in Sydney’s western suburbs say the day means more than just a mark.

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It’s been a stressful year, but all the hard work and dedication has finally paid off.

About 70,000 students across New South Wales have seen their final exam results and Holroyd students couldn’t be happier.

For many at Holroyd getting an education at all was unimaginable. About 60 per cent of the students at Holroyd come from a refugee background.

Elaf Khaleel fled Iraq three years ago and says she’s happy that her family and school are proud of her.

“It’s really wonderful,” Miss Khaleel says of how far she has come since she first arrived in Australia.

“When I came to Australia actually I was really shy to talk with people because my English…I couldn’t make a perfect sentence.”

Eric Xu migrated from China in 2010 with his parents and says language was his biggest barrier.

Now he’s one of the state’s highest achievers.

His teacher, Bhoopinder Maswan, has watched his progress over the years.

“Eric is one of those students who could not speak, even asking his name was becoming difficult,” he says.

Holroyd High School principal Dorothy Hoddinott has been at the school for 18 years and says on average about 40 per cent of students go on to university.

“That’s very high because the national average is just over 30 per cent for all students of all backgrounds.”

Mrs Hoddinott says the school’s academic expectations have had a ripple effect on the entire community.

“When one of their children complete school and goes on to university they take their entire family on that journey with them and the expectations rise with all the younger children,”

And for those students who didn’t achieve the results they wanted, Mrs Hoddinott says it’s not the end.

“Schools are a place of hope. They’re places of the future. What we do here is an investment in the future, it’s not just the present. You don’t have to be relegated to one place in society because you were born into a poor family, or because you come from a refugee background or because you don’t speak English or because you wear a hijab or whatever it happens to be. You can take on society.”

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