ACHIEVING the ATAR of his dreams was the light at the end of the tunnel for a boarding school student six hours from home.
Moving away from his family in the town of Cobar, to Farrer Agricultural High School in year eight, was "one of the hardest things I ever did".
Student Chad Buckman battled homesickness for the sporting, agricultural, and learning opportunities offered by the high school. It was all worth it.
Mr Buckman received the news on Thursday that he had received an ATAR of 93.90.
Besides his top score, he leaves the school with three awards, including the Aboriginal Leadership Award presented to an Indigenous student.
Next year, he plans to study mechanical engineering - attracted to the profession by "the ability to create things that move in such a manner".
Back home working IT at a mine in Cobar, the high achiever is dealing with missing the mates he made at school.
"You live with them for five years and then you each go your separate ways," he said.
"I'll be forever grateful for meeting them."
Calrossy Anglican School student Harriet Fay wants to pursue a career in rural health.
"I really hear a lot of people just asking for aid and assistance and reducing the gaps, especially in mental health and the youth services in Tamworth," she said.
"I think it's something that I want to do, and I'd be motivated to do it for the rest of my life."
Ms Fay was shocked to receive a whopping ATAR of 99.8, and a top band in five subjects.
Her study methods varied from recording poems and drawing, to keeping her fitness up.
"The amount of times I went up to the lookout was quite embarrassing," she said.
Tahlia Barwick was expecting to see a score in the low 90s or high 80s.
To get 98.5 "was just incredible".
The Calrossy student will study international security and public policy at Australian National University in Canberra.
Working in youth councils gave her the passion for government, and studying modern history, legal studies and society and culture made her interested in how the world works.
"I loved learning about how different countries either work, or don't work together," she said.
Calrossy student Evelyn Murdoch "put in a lot of effort" for her 98.65 ATAR. But, she's already moving on.
"Once you get your number, once you get your ATAR, you can already feel it not mattering that much," she said.
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