It’s been a challenging year for all year 12s, but three students – Justin Ivelja, Zac Muir and Caleb Neyenhui – have stood out for Ms Hall.

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“It’s huge for any kid doing VCE this year, but for kids that have really significant health issues or disabilities, it’s a really big thing,” said Ms Hall.

“We as a community are just so proud of these three because they really epitomise hard work and dedication, and we just can’t wait to see how they’ve gone.”

Justin, who has muscular dystrophy, studied English language, maths methods, specialist maths and physics this year and already had further maths under his belt. He wants to study engineering at Deakin University.

Zac, who has albinism and suffers from nystagmus, a rapid eye movement condition, studied English, PE, biology and maths methods this year, and had already studied VET sport and recreation and further maths.

Zac said he wanted to study mechanical engineering because he had “always had an interest in how things were made, and more specifically cars”.

Caleb, who has prosthetic eyes after suffering retinoblastoma as a young child, studied English, further maths, PE and VET sport and recreation and said he wanted to study cybersecurity because he enjoyed the “IT part of things”.

Ms Hall said watching Caleb sit the further maths in Braille was awe-inspiring. Another highlight was Zac’s pride at completing a marathon five-hour exam for maths methods.

Ms Hall said Victoria had come a long way in ensuring all students were able to complete their VCE rather than leaving school, doing an unscored VCE or a VCAL certificate.

“It’s about support and early planning from the early stages of secondary school to encourage students and families to really aim high, that anything’s possible with the right support in place,” she said.

Australian Principals Federation president Julie Podbury agreed that students with chronic illness or disability were now better supported to complete the VCE.

“The whole attitude has changed,” Ms Podbury said. “It’s understood that it’s our job to make it work for everyone.”

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority said it didn’t capture the number of students with high needs completing the VCE because not all students with high needs identified as such.

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