With a dad whose career is in lighting for stage productions and a mum who has both performed on stage and worked as a stage manager, perhaps BSSC Year 12 student, Alice McKellar, was always destined to tread the boards?

Her first experience of the theatre was at just one week old, when her parents took her along to a show they wanted to see.

A few years later it was Alice’s turn on stage as a three-year-old in a ballet concert.

She’s since been part of the ensemble for ‘Fame Junior’ as a ten-year-old. She followed up BSE’s ‘Me and My Girl’ and ‘Annie’ with Tribe’s ‘Cats’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

With local theatre company Nexus, Alice has appeared in ‘Oliver’, ‘Shrek’ and ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and is presently in rehearsals for ‘Cinderella’ where she has a major role.

In a perfect world Alice’s future will include a role—or roles—in West End Musicals.

The path to this dream will probably include a Bachelor of Musical Theatre at a university offering this course—even possibly one in the UK.

Alice is considering a gap year too—although chances are it would be filled with rehearsals and performances.

“I’m really proud of the person I’ve become and am becoming,” Alice says.

“My confidence has grown so much over the last few years and I feel I owe this to the Bendigo theatre community who have supported me so much.”

Yet, it hasn’t been a free ride for Alice to reach this place of relative contentment.

When she was in Grade 6 the family moved from the Mornington Peninsula to Bendigo. It was a huge adjustment for her.

Alice remembers feeling lost in a huge dark storm. She says her twin brother was her ‘saving grace’ as she tried to make new friends, adjust to a new town and a new school, and make the jump from Primary School into her 7-10 years.

“You don’t realise when you are just 12 that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Alice would love to be able to go back and comfort her 12-year-old self and say, “Hold on! Everything is going to work out fine”.

No doubt the great relationship Alice enjoys with her family, who she describes as “the most supportive family in the whole world”, was critical during these difficult years.

However, it seems she was right about the light at the end of the tunnel: Alice says being at BSSC is the best and happiest time she’s had in her entire education.

The word ‘opportunity’ best describes BSSC for her and—unsurprisingly—she recommends the college “definitely and 100%”.

“When I first came here and saw the incredible array of subjects, it was almost too many to choose from. But everyone here is very supportive of the Arts as well and kept me aware of opportunities beyond the college too.”

Attending plays with her Literature class gives Alice the opportunity to see professional actors and makes her very excited about her VCE studies as she considers that, for many of them, it was only a few years ago they were also in the midst of VCE.

“It reassures me this is a legitimate pathway.”

Being able to see her friends every day at Senior is a bonus for someone as busy as Alice, who has rehearsals as well as dance and singing lessons outside of school.

Year 12 can be quite a step up from Year 11 and Alice has found the increase in workload somewhat daunting. She says being organised is essential and, for her, this involves a lot of sticky notes.

“It works really well for me to jot down things immediately and attach them to my notes or a pinboard I keep specifically for things I need to remember.”

This year she is studying Literature, Musical Theatre, Music Repertoire, Drama and Art. It’s a perfect subject blend for this talented singer and actress who is on a trajectory towards a career in musical theatre.

Her favourite subject? Well, this is in constant flux as she loves different aspects of each, and it all depends on the particular topic of the day.

“I think the biggest challenge is that I can be so self-critical—endlessly comparing myself to others. It grinds me down and makes me anxious,” she says. “even though I know at the end of the day your ATAR doesn’t really matter, this year it’s playing on my mind.”

Alice uses two methods to de-stress when the pressures of VCE get too much.

One is to sit outside in the fresh air and disappear into a great book. The other is to head out for a walk along the river with her beautiful dog—a perfect cure for ‘stuck-in-study-brain’ mode.

Alice also sets a timer and works in 45-minute blocks with breaks between each session.

Time—and managing it—might be big in Alice’s life at the present time, yet she is not oblivious to global issues that will probably increasingly impact her life.

“Climate Change is massive for me,” Alice says. “At home we try to do our best, although I feel like we are doing the minimum. I was shocked to visit someone last year who only had a rubbish bin and everything was sent to landfill.”