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Strength Of Spirit Top Of Class

Tuesday 5 January 2016


From South Australian newspaper The Adelaide Advertiser, in a special feature entitled Year 12 Merits, which focused on extraordinary high school students:


Elise Prior
Kapunda High student Elise Prior battled chronic fatigue
syndrome throughout high school but still managed to
earn two Merits.
(Picture: Dean Martin)

Strength of spirit top of the class

By Tim Williams
Education Reporter
Monday January 4, 2016

ELISE Prior's Year 12 results are proof of her refusal to give in to the chronic illness she has fought for the past five years.

The 19-year-old has chronic fatigue syndrome and completed Year 12 over two years, achieving Merits for English Communications and her Research Project, and a uni entrance rank of 98.7.

She topped her class at Kapunda High School despite being able to attend school for just a few hours a week.

"I first became sick in my first term of Year 8 at high school, and since then I've been battling the chronic illness and studying part-time," she said.

"It's been extra hard managing Year 12 and my illness but obviously all my perseverance has paid off.

"My attendance fluctuated a lot but generally it was an hour or two a couple of times a week."

Elise had to rely on self-motivation and "a lot of self-directed learning," though she was grateful for the support and understanding of her teachers and close friends.

It was important to keep in close communication with teachers about which lessons were "vital to attend," she said.

"Teachers would sometimes record their lessons so I could watch them online. Same for assignment sheets, and that was a lot of help."

Elise's favourite subject was Psychology, and her Research Project evaluated the evidence on whether recent cultural and lifestyle changes affected rates of depression.

She found going for walks around her family's Hamilton property was a good way to "de-stress" from Year 12.

Elise plans to move to the city and study psychological science at Adelaide University.

Her mum will make several trips to Adelaide each week to help her with tasks such as grocery shopping.

"I really could not have got through my two years (of Year 12) without the support of my parents, particularly my mum, especially at the worst stages. She's basically been my carer," Elise said.

"During my worst stage a few years ago I was bedridden. It's improved since then thankfully, but it's mostly remained stable over the last couple of years."

The early years of her illness were tough socially because her peers struggled to understand what she was going through.

"It was difficult as a 13 or 14-year-old (for them) to grasp the magnitude of my health problems. I've managed to find a few really good friends," she said.


Society and Culture
Mathematics Applications
English Communications
Research Project
ATAR 98.7


An edited version of the article can be found online here.



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