Well before he got to BSSC, Jonah Zoch, had already seen more of Australia than many people see in their entire lives.
He’s not quite sure what first inspired his parents to sell the house, buy a caravan and spend around six years travelling extensively through the western half of Australia—but he’s so glad they did.
Jonah has lived in Alice Springs, Darwin, Broome and Perth, giving him and his sister an incredibly diverse and rich extra-curricular experience as they moved through primary school.
He credits these experiences with creating an appreciation and respect for cultural diversity and firing his desire to travel more widely.
Back in Bendigo for his 7-10 college years, Jonah has now been at BSSC for one term. However, he is quick to respond with the word ‘opportunities’ when asked about his experiences so far.
“I would definitely recommend BSSC to anyone thinking about their VCE,” he says. “If you’re committed to your studies, want to understand things better and you’re willing to ask for help from your teachers you can really do well at this college.”
While Jonah suspects his classmates will remember him as someone who didn’t seem to take life too seriously and was always telling jokes, he also hopes they will recall that he worked hard and was serious about keeping grounded, and resisting being peer-pressured into things he’d later regret.
When he got his results from his first round of SACs, Jonah saw the evidence that his efforts were paying off and realised he can pursue anything he wants to if he works hard.
“I’m taking six subjects and considering a number of career options—Psychology, pilot in the RAAF or the Law—and I feel like I’m going to be well set-up for any of them.”
The option of studying psychology at a tertiary level appeals because, as far back as he can recall, Jonah has had a deep curiosity about how the brain works and why people do what they do.
In the light of the current and growing awareness of issues around attitudes to women and some of the complex youth social problems Jonah observes, he finds himself asking such questions.
“I want to be a good person who is respectful towards women and girls,” he says. “I know I would never abuse anyone, but the guys who do give us all a terrible reputation. Why do they do it?
“I also wonder what has happened in the lives of young people who are getting into trouble with the police or who have awful attitudes to other people.”
Alongside this curiosity about people and interest in human behaviour—and a subject workload that may sound daunting—Jonah is also a serious musician.
“I began playing guitar when I was in primary school,” he says. “When I got into Year 7 I had Ash Bird as my teacher and we just clicked. I began to take it much more seriously.”
In Year 9 Jonah began having lessons with Ash outside of school. These days Ash is Jonah’s Music Performance teacher at BSSC.
“I love the way I can express myself through guitar—especially with classical pieces,” Jonah says. “My favourite is Leyenda written in early 1890s by Isaac Albéniz.”
But Jonah’s taste in music is as eclectic as his life experience.
“I also love The Fray, Kings of Leon, The Killers… and Vivaldi.”
Asked for his most memorable musical experience, Jonah describes playing to a packed Melbourne Arena a couple of years ago during the Victorian State Schools Spectacular.
“There were just three of us on stage…. two singers and me on guitar,” he remembers. “I was so nervous, but it was awesome!”
This year, assuming Covid remains under control, Jonah will again be performing in the Spectacular. Rehearsals fill every weekend and he’s made some fantastic new friends and met some impressive young musicians—l like the 10-year-old pianist who he describes as “crazy good”.
In the small amount of time left over, Jonah is eating, sleeping and working part time.
However, work and life in general has been pretty tough lately after the recent death of his close friend and workmate.
“If I could talk to anyone in the world it would be him,” Jonah says. “I never got to say goodbye and I really would like to know he’s—somehow—okay.
“We got on so well and used to have such an awesome time working together. We would be forever cracking jokes, then trying to be straight-faced when a customer came in.”
This experience, along with watching a good mate struggle through a family breakdown, has sharpened Jonah’s appreciation for his own family’s good fortune.
“I’m so grateful to them for so much,” he says. “Being in Alice Springs and having such amazing experiences as I was growing up and experiencing Aboriginal culture close-up has inspired me to want to meet people from all over the world.”