Frank Zhao is the Dux of Geelong Grammar School for 2019 after achieving a perfect International Baccalaureate (IB) score of 45 when results were released on Friday 3 January. Frank's score converts to an ATAR of 99.95. 71 students completed the IB Diploma in 2019, with 12 students achieving an IB score of 40 or above- Frank, Josie Happell (44), Charlotte Roderick (42), Nyah Furnari (41), Nellie Worboys (41), Maddi Atkins (40), Mili Friday (40), Lulu Morton (40), Lucy Peddie (40), Tyler Southwick (40), Mickey Stewart (40) and Laura Sunderland (40). The School's median IB ATAR was 92.80 (down from 94.50 in 2018) which means that our top half were in the top 7.20% of the state.It's important to note that, as IB marks can be challenged and subjects re-marked, the results are provisional.


From Balwyn, Frank joined the School at Timbertop in Year 9 and, upon arriving at Corio Campus for Year 10, started a Maths Club with the encouragement of then-Head of Mathematics, Michelle Wakeham. "It's not about teaching more math, but exploring new ideas. I normally just write some cool mathematical equation on the whiteboard and it goes from there," Frank told Light Blue in 2017. Later that year, Frank and the GGS team finished eighth (out of 28 schools) at Melbourne University's Schools Maths Olympics; a team of five which included Nat Lam (joint Dux in 2017) and Do Yeong Kim (joint Dux in 2018).

Frank with the Maths Olympics team
(L-to-R) Frank, Tae Yeong Kim, Nat Lam, Do Yeong Kim and Gaius Gunawan.

Frank was very engaged in School life. He was a House Prefect in Manifold and won an array of prizes in Senior School, including the Charles Murray Maxwell Prize for both Chemistry and Physics, the Mackinnon Prize for Mathematics, and The Ian Darling Family Award for Creative Education."I’ve always believed that being passionate about learning new knowledge is very important to academic success," Frank said. "By engaging in classes and the IB curriculum, I can consolidate the required knowledge base for assessments and tests. And by participating in Math Olympiad activities and other academic projects outside of school, I can extend my knowledge and make new connections between different concepts. This intrinsic engagement and motivation comes from my appreciation for knowledge itself. In mathematics, for example, everything extends and expands from a few simple ideas and everything then connects together into a coherent map of concepts."

"I hope many Geelong Grammarians can come to discover and hence enjoy that 'the real thrill is in this surprise element of suddenly seeing everything clarified and beautiful', as Sir Andrew Wiles puts it."

Frank has applied to the top universities in the world with the aim to further his passion for mathematics and, now that results have been released, his attention now turns to the results of those applications and the next step of his education journey. "Inspired by my own research in constructing machine learning models to predict and explain long-term unemployment, I aspire to eventually use my knowledge for social good in the future."

One of Frank's passions outside of the classroom is film making. lifEdit Productions, whose works include promo videos for the Lorne 160 and Heads of the River, a farewell video for past Principal Stephen Meek, and award-winning short films The Mathematician and International Student, is the brainchild of Frank and fellow 2019 leavers Ryan Su, Jacky Zhang and Yao Xiao. Their films were showcased regularly at School Assemblies and have been, without fail, incredibly well-received. In all likelihood, the boys will find themselves in different corners of the globe this year as they further their education but Frank is hoping this doesn't mark the end for lifEdit. "We hope to continue making films no matter where we end up. We are planning to start making individual short films at the start of our university lives. And over holidays, we would love to continue making films together as a group."


From Armadale in Melbourne's south-east suburbs, Josie joined the School in Year 11 in Clyde House and immediately felt at home. "The wonderful girls in Clyde welcomed me with open arms and have now become my closest friends," Josie said.


Joining at the beginning of Year 11 meant that Josie was immediately faced with the decision between IB and VCE. "I liked the idea of being able to study each subject for two years, meaning that the content was very detailed; I thought this suited my academic strengths," she said of the decision-making process. "I believe by doing IB you are rewarded well for the hard work you have to put in!" The hard work didn't stop at the conclusion of exams for Josie, who had to be more resilient than most to receive her results. "I'm visiting family in England so I had to stay up until 1.30am for my results, which meant the anticipation had been building all night!"

Josie represented the School's 1st Girls' Tennis team and won the Westpac Bank Prize for Economics and the Purnell Prize for History. She hopes to study either Commerce at Melbourne University or Commerce/ Law at ANU. "I am super excited about both options!"


From Unley in South Australia, Charlotte joined the School at Timbertop in Year 9 and completed her Senior School years as a boarder in The Hermitage House. Charlotte felt a mixture of shock and relief when she received her results on Friday morning. "IB results are known to be quite unpredictable, particularly when some of the final exams for IB subjects contribute 80% of your final score, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I opened my email," Charlotte said. Unpredictability of results aside, many of the elements of the IB programme really appealed to Charlotte. "I liked the global aspect of IB and the international mindedness that was incorporated into each subject. For example, instead of just learning the French language, we were taught about the cultures and current affairs in French-speaking countries all around the world."


Charlotte immersed herself in life at GGS. She performed in a variety of School productions, including playing the role of Velma Kelly in the 2019 production of Chicago, and played a major part in The Hermitage's back-to-back House Music overall wins in 2018/19. "I found that taking on opportunities, such as music tours across Europe or the School musicals that GGS produces, have created some of the best memories of my life and I cannot be grateful enough to be presented with such great opportunities and allowed me to meet some amazing people." Many of those amazing people resided with Charlotte in The Hermitage. "I could go on forever about the best aspects of Hermi, but to sum it all up, the Hermi girls were always the first to fill up the seats when there were Hermi girls performing in a play, or competing in a competition, and I will forever be grateful for my Hermi girls."

Charlotte was a House Prefect and excelled on the Hockey field, captaining the School's 1st team in 2019 while also representing the APS against the AGSV schools in 2018. She hopes to study Arts/ Law at one of Melbourne University or the University of Sydney.


From Moorabool, just a stone's throw away from Corio Campus, Nyah began at the School at Bostock House in ELC3. The second of six siblings to attend the School, Nyah was part of the School's 2018 APS Netball premiership and has been one of the School's best swimmers in recent years, leading Elisabeth Murdoch to the House Swimming title in 2019. Upon receiving her results on Friday morning, Nyah felt a mixture of excitement and relief. "I was really surprised with my score as it exceeded what I was expecting, but was very excited that the day had finally arrived and that the wait was over," she said, echoing the feelings of a number of IB candidates.


Unlike Frank, Josie and Charlotte who joined the School in their teenage years, Nyah can't recall her life before GGS and it almost feels like any other summer school holidays right now. "It definitely doesn’t feel like I’ve left yet but I’m sure it will kick in when my younger siblings head back to school and I don’t have to." While she can't pinpoint an earliest Bostock House memory, she shared the entire journey with fellow IB candidate Meg Robinson and they shared another experience on Friday morning. "A highlight has definitely been going through 15 years of school with my good friend Meg Robinson, right through to getting our IB scores together."

Nyah hopes to study Biomedical or Pharmaceutical Science at an institution in Melbourne this year.