When Year 12 student Billie Taylor was in Grade 6, her music teacher asked the students to try and copy a drum beat.

“No-one could get it,” Billie says, “but I found it really easy—to my teacher’s surprise—and that really encouraged me to pick up the drums.”

Billie had been learning guitar, but between Years 7 and 10 percussion became her focus, and now in VCE she is studying drums in Music Performance, playing drums in an all-girl band (Trophy Wives) and was the 2018 recipient of BSSC’s Staff Award at the Musician of the Year.

In presenting this award, Emily Bibby described Billie as being, “a student who takes every musical opportunity, is professional, is dedicated to an excellent standard and is, overall, an awesome young musician.”

“I was so surprised,” Billie says, “but I do actually try to take every opportunity to perform and to help out, especially after performances when equipment needs to be brought back to school.”

Since coming to BSSC, the list of Billie’s musical ventures is impressive. She was a member of the choir during Year 11 and she is a familiar face behind the drum kit at numerous school events. From Wellbeing Week to Assemblies, Graduation to BSSC’s Got Talent, Billie is the beat behind the music.

When performing with Trophy Wives Billie plays drums and sings backing vocals. The band came second in ‘The Battle of the Bands’ and play regularly at the Golden Vine. They also played at FReeZA.

“We’re now writing our own material and usually all work together to develop an idea,” Billie says. “I also love reading and I write poetry—I even came third in recent poetry slam.”

Given all she’s achieved, it’s hard to imagine that Billie has been living in Bendigo for less than two years. Her family moved from Wangaratta at the beginning of her Year 11 when her Mum obtained a job locally.  So, although everyone who comes to BSSC is new to the school, Billie had no familiar classmates from her old school when she arrived.

“I decided to join the Student Council,” she says. “I’d been involved with SRC from primary school, but never felt that we were really allowed to make a difference. Initially I joined to meet people and make friends, but I discovered this Student Council actually does things and makes real change.

“This year I was on the executive—Vice-President—but it just feels like I’m working with friends because we use our goal of inclusiveness to work more like a big team. The thing I’m most proud of is how we have promoted the value of the Student Council itself and developed the Student Voice.”

Billie is also the student representative to College Council.

“I deliver the SC report to College Council and that’s been great for my public-speaking skills and understanding how such councils operate,” she says. “I’ve realised that schools are complicated organisations to run and every decision has to be so thorough. I’ve been impressed by how the impact of decisions on students is taken seriously.”

While her music performance subject is presently the priority, and exams are coming up very soon, Billie says she loves all her subjects.

“I’m doing Global Politics, English Literature, Psychology and through La Trobe University Bendigo (LTUB), I’m studying a first year Law subject: Principles of Public Law.

“I hope to go to LTUB to study a double degree in Law/Psychology. I’ll probably go into Law but I’m also interested in Forensic Psychology. I guess my dream job would be to work in Human Rights law.”

Billie’s interest in global politics has a human rights element.

“I’m really concerned about a number of issues, but what is happening to refugees and asylum seekers is just not good enough. I know we can’t just have open borders, but we could help a lot more people.

“Australians are much more inclusive and friendly than our policies suggest. Our government is too conservative and not representing how most Australian’s think. Given the chance to make change, I would get all those people off Nauru and Manus Island.”

And, given the opportunity to travel back in time, what would Billie say to her 12 year-old self?

“At that time my school was cliquey and judgemental and I worried about being nerdy or not fitting in. I was neither sporty nor obsessed with how I looked. I actually found that the arty, drama, music kids were the most tolerant. So I would say: be yourself… believe in yourself.”