The Holy Cross graduate achieved an ATAR (Australian tertiary admission rank) of 99.85 – just a fraction off the perfect score– in his WACE (WA Certificate of Education) exams last year.
“I’m not a genius,” James said.
“There are people who are actually geniuses, and then there are people who just work hard and are good at it.
“And that’s me.”
James was awarded dux of his year, and now holds the record of the highest score at Holy Cross College.
He may have broken the record for the area, too.
“My mum tells me that my score is possibly the highest in Ellenbrook anyone has ever got,” James said.
“She’s been looking in the papers; she did very well at school, so she’s very interested.”
James’s high score placed him 26th in the state, and meant he was the recipient of a general exhibition, awarded to the top 41 students in the state each year.
His high score also guaranteed him a spot at UWA.
“This year I’ll be studying philosophy, with a major in mathematics and statistics and a second major in physics,” James said.
“They (UWA) usually only take about 40 students in that course each year.”
James says people are often surprised with his choice of degree.
“I want to be a mathematician,” he said.
“I don’t care about the money.
“I don’t want to work for a bank or an insurance company.
“I just want to do the maths.”
Only nine other students at the College completed their WACE exams last year.
James attributed part of his success to intimate class sizes.
Fellow student Cameron Miles also obtained outstanding marks, with an ATAR of 98.65.
“Cameron and I were the only students in some of our classes,” he said.
“We really pushed each other.”
He also credited the staff at Holy Cross College.
“The teachers were amazing,” James said.“How they found such great, specialist teachers who knew so much is beyond me.”
Principal Mandy Connor said she was very proud of last year’s cohort, all of which graduated.
“The class of 2015 were our inaugural year sevens,” she said.
“60 per cent of students achieved an ATAR above 80, and all above 70.
“The median ATAR of the college was 83.4, compared to the state median of 79.1.”
James was also awarded the Caltex ‘All Rounder’ award,
a certificate of distinction for being in the top 0.5 per cent of the state in physics,
and a certificate of commendation for achieving at least 20 A grades.