A total of 68 students achieved a study score above 40 – with 50 being a perfect score – in Italian last year, placing them in the top nine per cent in the state.

Two students, however, went above and beyond, achieving a perfect study score of 50 for Italian.

Lara Partridge, from Genazzano F.C.J. College in Kew, was one of the top two students in the state.

Partridge was exposed to the Italian language and culture from the day she was born, with her maternal grandparents having migrated from Italy in the 1950s: her nonna from Castiglione a Casauria, in Abruzzo, and her nonno from the Calabrian town of Pizzoni.

“As part of VCE Italian, we had to learn about Italian immigration to Australia during the ‘50s,” she said.

“Although I’ve always been inspired by the hard work and wisdom of my nonni and my Italian family, delving deeper into the broader contributions of Italians in Australia really increased my appreciation of all of those migrants who made the difficult decision to leave their homeland for a completely foreign country.

“They are true symbols of courage and bravery.”

Partridge attended Italian school when she was just three years old, and was immersed in the language at home thanks to her grandparents.

When she reached high school, the talented student chose to study Italian in order to hone her conversational skills and be able to communicate in the language of her ancestors.

While Partridge’s passion for her heritage certainly helped her grasp the language, she also enjoyed the cultural aspect of her studies.

“I had the opportunity to learn about the Renaissance, Made in Italy products, famous Italians, Italian gastronomy, sport, lifestyles and festivals,” she said.

“I had a really amazing teacher during VCE who brought all of these concepts to life through films, books and music (alongside ordinary notes and textbooks).

“I also tried to immerse myself in different opportunities, such as the Dante Alighieri Society’s poetry competitions; this allowed me to expose myself to different aspects of Italian culture.”

Partridge also cited Il Globo as a helpful tool in terms of exposure to both the Italian language and culture.

“I bought a subscription for the year and it really allowed me to improve my vocabulary and my confidence with the language,” she added.

For Partridge, the hardest part of her Italian studies were the oral exams.

“I found it difficult to answer oral questions without sounding wooden and rehearsed,” she explained.

“At first, I relied on memorisation, but I quickly learnt that the key to doing well was speaking genuinely and with passion.”

Partridge certainly put in the hard yards with her Italian studies and had always hoped to do well in VCE, but she was still surprised to see a perfect score when she received her results.

“I was absolutely thrilled when I found out; it was great to see that all of my hard work over the years had paid off,” she said.

Partridge now plans to study Law/Arts at Monash University, starting this year.

“I’ll be majoring in Italian, so my Italian language journey will continue well into the future,” she declared.

While Partridge prepares for the next chapter of her studies, she encourages other students to take the leap and study a second language, no matter how difficult or daunting the prospect may seem.

“I think that a common misconception amongst students is that in order to do well you need to reach a perfect level of fluency,” she concluded.

“This is actually not the case; whilst you do need to be able to communicate in Italian, you don’t need to be perfect by any means.”