BSSC Year 12 student, Katie Copeland, has always loved the outdoors.

Recently she slung on her backpack and spent five days hiking across the rugged escarpments and dense vegetation of the magnificent northern Grampians (Gariwerd National Park).

Outdoor Ed teacher, Sam Gibbs, told Katie and one of her friends about the trip and she says they were instantly “super keen”.

“Most of the people on the trip were third-year Outdoor Ed students from La Trobe Uni. Part of what made it great was the feeling of freedom and getting to know the others on the trip.

“Some of the highlights included making it to the top of a rocky mountain in rain and fog and eating lunch in the rain—and having the best hot chocolate at nights after we’d finished hiking.

“Seeing eagles fly past as we walked the ridgeline of a mountain; finding giant earthworms everywhere; visiting waterfalls and feeling the water splash us on the hot days and the relief of getting to our campsite.

Katie says she learnt so much about clouds and plants–including moss and orchids.

“Hearing the birds call at sunrise in the morning and sitting up watching the stars on the last night—it was so cool.”

For a student whose favourite subject is Outdoor and Environmental Studies, it was no surprise to hear Katie sum up the experience as “amazing”.

While she is not sure about long-term career plans Katie knows she wants to take a gap year and work on a cattle station next year or perhaps do a stint on the ski slopes over the winter.

She wants to keep her options as open as possible. However, she expects she will study Outdoor Ed at uni in future—a course that will lead to wide choices.

Her big dream for the future is to get into wildlife conservation.

“I’m baffled by the blindness people seem to have for environmental problems when there are so many important issues we need to address.

Asked to name an achievement she’s proud of, Katie names getting better at realising how important it is to grab every opportunity that comes your way.

“I so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had—and taken—and also for the fantastic group of friends I have at the moment.”

Despite these positives, Katie would love to go back and tell her 12 year-old self to enjoy the journey more.

“I’d say, ‘You’ll struggle at times but it will all work itself out’.”

Meanwhile, Katie’s focus is on making the most of Year 12 and keeping a balance in her life between study and her other interests.

Katie and her brother really enjoyed setting their own agenda during the Covid lockdowns. They’d get up very early, knock over all their schoolwork by lunchtime and head outside for the afternoon.

Now back at school Katie is enjoying her time at BSSC.

She says the freedom to learn and manage her time in ways that work best for her are the things she most likes about the college.

“There are so many subjects to choose from and so many opportunities for extracurricular activities.

“Because the college is so large and your classes tend to be with people who share your interests, it’s also really easy to make new friends—you find your people quickly at BSSC.

She says she would definitely recommend the college.

Katie completed a 3/4 subject last year—PE—lightening her load for Year 12 to four subjects.

“I do still struggle with the workload and time management but I’ve put up this big calendar on my wall to help me stay on track—I can see when SACs are coming up and when other work is due.

“I believe it’s really important to keep a balance in life and the calendar lets me to see where the gaps are so I can look forward to doing some artwork, catching up with a friend, practicing my guitar or heading out to the horses.”

One hot study tip she recommends is to challenge yourself with practice questions and past exams.

“I also use word association to help me remember important facts. So, I use the ‘no’ in el nino to remember there’s ‘no’ rain in such weather influences.”

Katie works as a casual staff at Zambrero’s but when she’s not a school or work, she’s likely to be outside and possibly off on her horse.

Katie’s been part of Pony Club for years and competed in numerous horse trial. In fact the idea of being able to combine her love of horses, new experiences, and the outdoors inspired Katie’s idea to work on a cattle station during her gap year.

Katie is interested in doing up old cars. She bought one a while back and then realised her skills were not up to what this car needed—so in her spare time she’s on the lookout to sell what she has and buy something she can really enjoy tinkering over and restoring to its former glory.