BSSC Year 12 student, Noah Bentley, has some sage advice he would love to be able to go back and give to his younger self.

“Don’t worry about stuff so much—about mistakes,” he says. “Just let them go.

“… And in Year 11 you’re going to meet a girl named Eden. Make sure you talk to her straight away, she’s going to be a great friend.”

These days, like students across the world, Noah is mostly at home. He says things are “not too bad” and he feels he’s keeping up and is reasonably resistant to the distractions of remote learning.

“I have no plans to become a couch potato,” he laughs, “even though I do use TV for some breaks.”

Exercising for around 90 minutes each day has kept his fitness on track—even though he is carrying a knee injury that is restricting him to lifting weights at the moment.

Noah plays football for South Bendigo, but with no games to play and few to watch, he is finding the lack of football in his life pretty disappointing.

“Although it’s probably giving my knee a chance to fully recover,” he says.

Noah expects his knee will come good in the next couple of weeks and he looks forward to getting back into running—and, once the social distancing restrictions lift, back into football.

Being at home has made Noah realise the important place BSSC has in his life. Not only is he missing the daily contact with his friends and constant access to his teachers, but he says he has a new appreciation for resources such as the library—and even the canteen.

Motivation, he has also realised, is so much easier to hold onto when you are with hundreds of others with a similar focus.

So what’s his approach?

“Mostly I’m sticking to his set timetable,” he says, “but I’m breaking up my day in ways that are most productive for me.”

Noah came to BSSC pretty much because it was the next logical step from BSE and his older brother had also attended BSSC. But the real insight about “just how good it is” hit home once he started Year 11.

Noah insists, even if you had other choices, “you’d be crazy not to go to BSSC given the things you have access to. Like the range of subjects and the resources on offer.”

BSSC has also been ideal for Noah in an unexpected way.

While many students with practice-based subjects are being severely impacted by the social distancing required to limit the pandemic, Noah is in the incredible position of being able to continue his School-Based Apprenticeship (SBAT) because he is working in the building industry which has not been shut down.

Noah joined the SBAT program halfway through Year 11 and describes it as a part-time apprenticeship—and he earns first year apprentice’s wages for his hours on the job.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I imagined myself as being either a builder or a police officer,” he says. “In Year 10 I did a work experience placement with local builder, Tim Ripper, and I just loved it.”

Noah already knows he doesn’t want a nine to five job. In both the careers that have long-held his imagination, he is drawn to the inherent variety that the jobs offer.

“I don’t believe work is just about money… I want to drive to work knowing that I’m going to do something I really want to do,” he says. “I know there are bits of any job that I won’t enjoy, but that’s just life.”

So, while most students have to hit the books every day, each Tuesday Noah gets his construction gear on and goes to work with Tim. He also spends a couple of days at TAFE every few months and has workbooks to complete related to training in the building industry.

Noah also works with Tim during the holidays and some weekends.

This work, and a few hours at Maccas each week, have provided a real insight into the demands and expectations of the workforce.

“When you stuff something up on a building project, there are time and money consequences,” he says. “And while I really like my workmates, and we all get on really well, it’s made me realise how much support you get at school.”

Noah could have optioned to go straight into a full-time apprenticeship but he chose against this for two reasons. One, his parents instilled in him the idea that education is important. The other, is that he has not abandoned the aspiration of one day joining the police force.

“For now I want to finish school and then do my apprenticeship,” he says. “While I don’t need a high ATAR, I really want to get the best marks I can.”

This commitment to his studies is balanced by a belief that some people take their VCE results so seriously they lose sight of what Noah identifies as “the most important stuff in life”.

For him, this includes knowing how to relax, and having realistic expectations about life and yourself.

In the light of this, Noah’s ‘hot study tip’ is to be careful about a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to study tips.

“I think you need to make your study style as personalised as possible,” he says. “We’re all different and we shouldn’t try to be like everyone else or just blindly do what we see everyone else doing.”

In the time of COVID-19, Noah is convinced this is even more important.

“One hundred percent,” he insists, “we have to work in a way that’s best suited to us. It should be fun!”

Noah likes to keep up with the news and has taken a keen interest in the way the pandemic is being managed and reported.

While he acknowledges there are personal implications for people in lockdown, Noah is also concerned about restrictions being lifted too soon.

“I know herd immunity is important, but I think we need to wait—even though there has been such a massive impact on everyone personally and on trade and the economy.”

Noah now views health workers and the emergency services with even greater admiration than before the pandemic.

“These people are really sticking their necks out. They have families they often can’t see for long periods because of their work and every day they face up to something that is much bigger than they are.

“I don’t recall who said this, but I think it’s true: ‘People run away from danger, but emergency service workers run towards it’.

“I greatly admire that.”