Abby Punch, a ViSN of success

02 May 2023

The Virtual School Network (ViSN) has produced many success stories, including that of Abby Punch.

The St Mary Star of the Sea College student completed three of her five ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) classes online and was one of the first students to successfully study three ViSN subjects, generating an ATAR score of 93.40.

Abby’s ViSN story started with a desire to complete an ATAR pathway without having to leave her family and community to study. Her older sister had previously moved to Perth to continue a Catholic education for Year 11 and 12. For Abby, this was not an option that interested her.  Her family was going through a hardship and while an ATAR pathway was important to her, she had to be close to home to provide care and support to her family.

Her mother Samantha Punch, who did not know much about the program at the time, was thankful for the opportunity to allow Abby to remain at home with her family.

“There was a lot of unknowns about the program initially however from the moment Abby started there was so much contact with her teachers.’

‘We wanted Abby to continue in the Catholic Education system… and to have every opportunity to reach her full potential. I do not know how we would have achieved this without ViSN.’

Samantha Punch, mother of Abby Punch.

‘I always felt very informed about Abby’s workload and progress through emails from teachers and SEQTA notifications.

‘We wanted Abby to continue in the Catholic Education system and the financial burden of School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) or boarding school was not feasible at the time.

‘If ViSN was not available our options would have been limited.’

Abby studied ATAR English and Mathematics Applications at her school but was able to complete Earth and Environmental Sciences, Human Biology and Modern History through ViSN.

Abby said the opportunity to work alongside students from all over the state in subjects they were passionate about was a draw card.

‘Everything is set up and easy to follow in a structured format. I had control over my learning, which gives you some freedom and the opportunity to work at a pace that suited me. The time management and communication skills I have developed through ViSN are an asset for both my future learning and employment. My teachers encouraged us to work collaboratively, resulting in making friends from all over the state, many of whom I am still in regular contact with.’

Abby’s teachers were extremely impressed by her work ethic and personality online.

Kylie Kingdon, the Year 12 ViSN Modern History Teacher said, ‘Abby was always up for sharing stories. She helped build a profound sense of community in our class. Her level of work was outstanding and always on time and she thrived in her online learning.’

Lisa Vinci, Abby’s Human Biology Teacher in Years 11 and 12 said, ‘Abby was always a self-motivated student who communicated often with me and other students in the course. Her work ethic was amazing! She never wavered in her commitment to her studies, especially in this online mode. She was truly the model ViSN Student.’

Principal, Steve O’Halloran, spoke about the importance of ViSN for a school developing Year 11 and Year 12 pathways in a regional area. With challenges around staffing and numbers of students, it is not always possible for schools to offer a wide range of subjects for their students. ViSN allows the access to Quality Catholic Education no matter the location.

After completing her K-12 education at St Mary Star of the Sea, Abby is taking a year off and working in the local travel agency, a place she worked at throughout her Year 11 and 12 studies. She is planning on heading to university in Perth next year.

If you would like to learn more about ViSN, contact ViSN Coordinator, Peggy Fitzgerald.

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