Like many graduates reflecting on their time at BSSC, Toby Clarke says the freedom given to students best describes his experience of the college.

“I’ve tried to use those freedoms to study,” he says. “I’ve been free to surge ahead if I want and free to take a break when I need it.

“For students who want to do well in their area of interest, BSSC is perfect. It’s the best school I’ve ever been to.”

Toby recalls being one of those students who liked to ‘coast’ during his 7-10 years.

“Although I felt the change to Year 11 was massive, I still didn’t really lift my game,” he reflects. “When I got only 26% in Methods at the end of term one I considered dropping the subject.

“Then, over the holidays, we went to a sailing regatta on Lake Boga. I was reflecting on my Maths result and thought, ‘you can do better than that’.”

Some people might call this an ‘epiphany’ and to Toby it felt like that, but he’s also really proud of following through on the thought.

“I came back at the start of second semester and committed to working really hard,” he says. “I got 68% at the end of the year—then picked up Physics for Year 12.”

Alongside Physics and Maths Methods, Toby has also studied Biology, English and Business Management.

Asked for his hot study tip, he says having music as background noise works well for him and he uses VCE Checkpoints and practice exams as his main revision methods.

“I can study anywhere, but I’m definitely not a morning person,” he admits.

Toby has also been impressed by his teachers and the more relaxed interaction style he’s experienced at BSSC.

“I feel like students and teachers connect on a more adult level here,” he says. “I felt really comfortable approaching and talking to my teachers and I’ve enjoyed learning from them.”

Now, with all that hard work behind him, and with the Year 12 exams in progress, Toby says keeping up momentum right to the end of the year was a challenge.

“My family are a great support,” he says. “I want to have a career in Biomedical Engineering and this also keeps me focused.”

Toby’s interest in Biomechanics revolves around developments in prosthetics.

He’d love to see prosthetics that can be operated by the brain. He recognises this could be a real game-changer for people with spinal cord injuries.

Another innovative scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, is a person Toby would choose to have a conversation with if it was possible.

“He was such an intelligent man who came up with great concept ideas,” Toby explains. “One of his thought experiments turned into satellites.

“I’d love to ask him if he knows why he could think the way he did.”

Despite the pressures of VCE, Toby still enjoyed heading out for a pizza with his great group of friends.

He’s also a competitive sailor and part of a family who love to sail.

“Dad’s been to world titles,” he says, “and Mum was part of a crew that won national titles.”

Toby was in Grade 2 when his Dad first began to take him sailing on Lake Eppalock.

“We were soon entering races,” he says.

While Toby’s done some ocean sailing, including competing in state titles on Port Phillip Bay, these days a ‘Wing Foil’ is his craft of choice—a board and separate hand-held sail used in a similar way to a windsurfer or sailboard.

“It’s really good fun and I mostly use it at Eppalock,” he says.

In contrast to demanding water sports, Toby took up the piano in 2019 and decided to start at Grade 6 because he “wanted good songs” after finding the easier and earlier grades a little boring for someone his age.

“I’m loving having my license and being able to get into town whenever I want to.”

“I’m also very grateful for the way I’ve been brought up. Mum and Dad have been very strict about technology. We were allowed an hour’s screen time each day.

“I never had an X-Box which I thought was a bit tough at times, but now I see I didn’t really need it.

If Toby could go back in time to when he was 12-years old, and offer his young self some advice, his message would be simple.

“Do what you enjoy and always have a go when opportunities come up.”