Year 11 student, Chloe Chappel, was born into a farming family whose academic focus was science and maths. In contrast, Chloe is into literature and knows that her future will involve writing in some way. Her ultimate goal is to be an author.
Growing up on a farm about an hour north of Bendigo, life was fun and Chloe says she had a great deal of freedom. The nearest neighbours—her grandparents—were just a very large paddock away.
“I just loved the open space,” Chloe says, smiling at the memory. “And I loved being around our dogs and cats.”
When Chloe reflects on her first year at BSSC, her overall impression is of being treated as an adult.
“Although I came to the college with a group of friends from BSE, and I was really excited about my subjects, it took me a little while to find my way around,” she says. “Not having to wear uniform and calling my teachers by their first names both took some adjustment.”
Chloe’s friendship group has expanded as she’s connected with like-minded people in her classes.
One of the things she’s found most beneficial is the Study Centre sessions, allowing her to keep on top of her homework and establish good revision habits.
“I found it a space that really helped me get into that mindset of study,” Chloe says. “It wasn’t extra work, it was an opportunity to catch up or keep up to date. I would go in there and be in study mode straight away.”
Her ‘hot study tip’ is to start making summary notes from the very first day you arrive at BSSC.
“Find ways to express things in your own words so that it makes much more sense later,” she recommends. “It can be annoying, and I still do it begrudgingly sometimes, but it’s worked amazingly for me.”
Chloe’s diverse subject choices include 20th Century History, English Literature, Biology, General Maths and German. A highlight has been learning about the technological advancements of the 20th century in Ian Kellett’s class.
Although she acknowledges some monumental disasters during those hundred years, she admits to being something of an optimist.
“I like to look on the positive side,” she says. “For example, the way planes have developed and changed our lives; the way communication—especially phones—have improved our connection to each other.”
English Literature is also a particular favourite.
“Dave is very engaging and I really enjoyed studying ‘The Great Gatsby’ where we looked at both the book and the movie—and the movie was a pretty good reflection of the book.”
Chloe has always loved reading. She has discovered various apps on her phone that enhance her opportunities to do this and found some awesome true crime podcasts. However, studying Literature has also helped confirm how much she loves writing.
“When we get the chance to do some creative writing in class I feel like I just go mad!” she says with a laugh. “I recently rewrote the plot for a short story we were asked to use as a jumping-off point for a creative writing exercise.”
This insight about the importance she places on literature, reading and writing, and its central place in her future, began with a realisation about what she didn’t want to do.
“I had studied Biology since Year 9 and always really enjoyed it,” she says. “I was doing work experience at ACE Laboratories—which I was also enjoying—but something just clicked in my head and I said to myself, ‘this is not for me’. It was really valuable to realise this.”
This experience affirms the advice Chloe would give herself if she could go back and talk with her 12 year-old self.
“Don’t be scared of failing—or of trying something and saying ‘no’,” she says. “It’s a really important way to learn things.
“I now understand that if I get something wrong I will probably get it right next time, and failing actually opens up more options.”
Her ‘fails’ have led her to be clearer about what she does and doesn’t want to do.
What is still not clear to her is how to make the jump from school to author. She expects it will probably be via a university course.
The present plan is to take a gap year so she can get some more experience in the workforce—make some money—travel a bit—write a bit—and no doubt read a lot more than she has been able to while she is immersed in VCE.
Outside of school, Chloe spends around eight hours a week working at Woolworths and likes to walk or catch up with friends to have a break from study.
“Sport is not my thing,” she says. “I’ve tried a few different sports, but it’s just not my cup of tea.”
Comedy, however, is something she connects with—not just for the escapist nature of a good laugh—though she enjoys this too.
“What I really love is the way comedy can remind you of the dark stuff, without being super heavy or serious,” Chloe says. “To make fun of what’s going on in the world without being really disrespectful.
“Social acceptance—and intolerance—of people is one of the biggest problems we all need to face up to,” Chloe says. “Racism, attitudes to the LGBTIQ+ community and the unfair distribution of resources are really serious issues.
“There have been improvements,” she acknowledges. “And there are people such as the US drag queen, RuPaul, who is fantastic at drawing attention to issues by giving voice to first-hand accounts—for example—of those who were witnesses or victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
“We need to accept everyone for who they are.”