Lockyer District High School dux for 2020, Holly Ilka. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Lockyer District High School dux for 2020, Holly Ilka. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

School captain takes out Lockyer dux, makes QLD’s top 1.85%

It wasn't the year that Holly Ilka was expecting, but despite a global pandemic and suffering from post-concussion syndrome, the Lockyer High student achieved all three of her goals.

But her dedication to studying and ensuring she "enjoyed" the year culminated in receiving the 2020 Dux award at Lockyer District State High School.

Holly, 17, wanted to take out what she called the trio - school captain, a high ATAR score and a sporting achievement.

In 2019, Holly was named the 2019-2020 school captain, she took out age champion cross country at school and received an ATAR of 98.51.

Lockyer District High School principal Darren Cook, with high ATAR students Gabrielle Kajewski, Laura Steinhardt, Dux recipient Holly Ilka, Amelie Ryan and deputy principal Tony McCormack (absent Liam Scott and Harrison Stibbard). PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Lockyer District High School principal Darren Cook, with high ATAR students Gabrielle Kajewski, Laura Steinhardt, Dux recipient Holly Ilka, Amelie Ryan and deputy principal Tony McCormack (absent Liam Scott and Harrison Stibbard). PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

 

Her exceptional result put her in the top 1.85 per cent of Queensland high school graduates for 2020.

Holly was part of the Queensland education cohort that were the first prep students, the first year seven students to attend high school and the first Year 12s to enter the ATAR system.

"You have these ideas of what Year 12 is going to be like, then we had the new ATAR and around April everything changed again - we had to learn from home," Holly said.

"Despite that, I really enjoyed my senior year. All of my teachers this senior year have been amazing, they've been so supportive."

Holly studied six subjects in Year 12 - English, literature, math methods, physics, geography and economics - and achieved her first preference of studying region and town planning at University of Queensland.

"Geography was the most fun and interesting. I enjoyed it so it didn't feel like study," she said.

Holly Ilka, her prep photo from her first year at school.
Holly Ilka, her prep photo from her first year at school.

 

"I think you need one of those break or fun subjects to handle Year 12."

For ATAR students, five subjects count towards their final score, and Holly is not sure which of her six subjects didn't count to her overall grading.

School principal Darren Cook said despite the changes and coronavirus pandemic, the students received "tip-top results".

"We tried really hard to create a sense of normality for our students," Mr Cook said.

"With COVID-19 there were some challenges our school faced, and we tried hard to navigate that because students always do best when there's a calm environment."

Lockyer District High School dux for 2020, Holly Ilka (right), with her mum Dianne. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Lockyer District High School dux for 2020, Holly Ilka (right), with her mum Dianne. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

 

Deputy principal Tony McCormack said there were 130 students in the 2020 graduating class, and the new ATAR system meant more Lockyer students than ever were able to apply to university.

He said the six highest-achieving students received an ATAR over 90.

Year 12 graduate Liam Scott received the second highest ATAR.

"With the breadth of subject offerings we have, and the number of certificate three subjects on offer, we have more students than ever who are ATAR eligible," Mr McCormack said.

"We've had more kids apply to University than ever before because of ATAR."