THOMAS GRAINGER started the year with a vision. ''From the first day I walked into ancient history this year I said to my teacher: 'I'm going to aim to be number one in the state','' he said.
''My mum laughed in my face and my teacher said: 'I think you can do it if you try.'''
Yesterday, Thomas, his mother Maree and John Chapman, his history teacher at St Pauls, Greystanes, found their faces barely big enough for their smiles.
Not only was he first in ancient history, Thomas also topped the state in business studies. He's proud of being the first from this school to claim the honour and hopes more will follow as the school's reputation lifts.
''Our school doesn't get a lot of attention, it's [thought of as] a 'westie' school,'' he said
''Each year the school has lifted its game, every year our marks are increasing. People, when they hear St Pauls, they think good school, but they don't think top school. Hopefully, everyone will be pleasantly surprised by this year group.''
His principal, David Bourne, said Thomas was an inspiration who was showing the way for students from western Sydney.
''I notice that this year southern Sydney, south-western Sydney and western Sydney had done particularly well and he's just a young man who is extremely well motivated,'' Mr Bourne said.
''He always has been … Thomas is an excellent example of a role model, and our year 12 group this year has just been extraordinary.''
Mr Bourne said Mr Chapman and business studies teacher Roubica Akkouche, were ''over the moon'' but said the result was all down to Thomas. ''He is destined for great things,'' he said.