A YEAR of hard work has paid off for a trio of local girls.
Sophie Munn, Annie Busiko and Alex Schreier all received merit awards recognising their exceptional results in Year 12 at high school.
Sophie, who is from Naracoorte but went to school in Adelaide at Wilderness School, did particularly well.
She scored four merits - in Business and Enterprise, Mathematical Applications, Research Project B and Society and Culture - only missing out on the top honour in English.
"I had to check it a couple of times, it was very suprising," she told the Herald.
"But I worked very hard for it.
"It (Year 12) was stressful at times but I got through it."
Amazingly, Sophie's ATAR of 99.5 wasn't a standout at her school, with 18 of her classmates achieving a ranking of 99 or above.
She is aiming to study nutrition and dietetics at Flinders University in Adelaide after her gap year.
Naracoorte High School student Annie achieved her merit in Mathematic Applications.
"I was over the moon...I had to do a double take actually," she said. "It was kind of suprising because I missed three weeks from school because of hockey (representing the State)."
Her ATAR finished up at 95.15.
Although she was relieved the hard work and stress of Year 12 was over, more study beckons for Annie as she is looking to get into medicine at university.
Former Padthaway girl Alex recently graduated from Pembroke School in Adelaide with a Merit Certificate in Business and Enterprise - the cherry on the top of her 97.9 ATAR score.
"I got better than I was expecting," she said. "I worked quite hard for it though."
She has already secured a full-time job at an accounting firm in the city and will study commerce, majoring in accounting, on a part-time basis at university.
Merit Certificates are given to students when they get a grade of A+ and demonstrate exceptional achievement in a subject.
Typically, fewer than 2 per cent meet this criteria.