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Excellence & Awards


VCE Leadership Awards

VCE Leader continues to show what young people can do

Dr Jane Goodall and Thomas King posing and smiling to camera

Photograph © Phil Hines, L to R: Dr Jane Goodall, Thomas King

Former VCE Leader of the Year Thomas King is on a mission to shift our food system and its impacts on animals, people and the environment. An experienced activist, campaigner and speaker, he exemplifies how young people can make a change when they commit to their passion.

In 2014, Thomas King was named VCE Leader of the Year for his dedication to animal advocacy and environmental activism. An avid conservationist, Thomas’s journey began 8 years ago when he created the website Say No to Palm Oil, to raise awareness about the impact of unsustainable palm oil production. The site has enabled a global audience to become ethical consumers, attracting over two million visitors from across every country in the world.

Now 21 years old, Thomas is considered one of Australia’s most influential young change makers, having presented talks at TEDx and worked with the Oaktree Foundation, Jane Goodall Institute Australia and United Nations youth division.

This year Thomas founded Food Frontier, an organisation dedicated to addressing the environmental and ethical impacts of large-scale meat production, by increasing the awareness and availability of new, innovative meat alternatives across the food system.

During a trip to Silicon Valley in the US, Thomas was exposed to ground-breaking innovations where meat is recreated using either plant proteins or by growing animal cells in a mineral culture. His mission is to accelerate the production and consumption of these healthier, more sustainable products, ultimately reducing our reliance on conventional, resource-intensive animal agriculture.

Thomas is looking to grow his new initiative across the Asia-Pacific region and is in discussions about aligning his efforts with world-renowned primatologist, conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall. He recently reconnected with Dr Goodall during her Australian Tour in June, where they discussed the potential of Food Frontier. He first met Dr Goodall in 2010, when he spoke at her youth summit in Melbourne. ‘It’s surreal having the opportunity to work with someone you’ve deeply admired for many years’, Thomas says.

For Thomas, it is important that young people are empowered to have a positive impact in their local and global community. ‘We all possess unique gifts and talents that we can use to create change in the world’, he says. ‘For students in particular, being of service can offer valuable insights, learning opportunities and connections that school can’t provide.’

When asked what being named VCE Leader of the Year meant to him, Thomas said it gave him credibility and recognition that was difficult to achieve as a teenager. ‘I was so grateful to be given a platform to further my advocacy’, he adds.

Do you know a VCE student committed to making a change at their school and in their community? Visit the VCE Leadership Awards webpage for more information. Applications close Friday 11 August 2017.

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VCE Season of Excellence

Top Screen 2017: People's Choice Awards announced

Young girl outside ACMI smiling to camera

Tessa Himpoo, Lauriston Girl's School

Congratulations to the 2017 Top Screen People’s Choice Award winner Tessa Himpoo from Lauriston Girls’ School. Tessa won the crowd over with her film [Insert child’s name here], which she shot entirely on her iPhone. The comedy is a fast-paced montage capturing the insight and judgement of an eight-year-old, reminding grown-ups not to underestimate children. As the winner of this year’s People’s Choice, Tessa took home a $350 voucher generously donated by Madman Entertainment.

The second most popular film was Proof or (The Tale of the Legendary Big Shrimp) by Tom Hughes from Northcote High School. In this short film, Tom explored concepts of the Australian family and beach culture by drawing on influences such as The Castle (1997), Muriel’s Wedding (1994) and Puberty Blues (1981).

Young boy outside ACMI smiling to camera

Tom Hughes, Northcote High School

Quiet, the third most popular film was created by Ben Head from Kardinia International College and provided the audience with an evocative and rich depiction of the experiences of British soldiers in the Second World War. The production of this dramatic short film was a personal experience for Ben, as the story was primarily based on his Grandfather’s memories as a soldier on the battlefields.

Tom and Ben received $150 and $100 vouchers respectively, courtesy of Madman Entertainment.

All the winners commented on the personal significance of participating in Top Screen.

Young boy outside ACMI smiling to camera

Ben Head, Kardinia International College

‘It was amazing to be part of something that celebrates creativity in the VCE and recognises students interested in media and film’, said Tessa. For Tom, the People’s Choice selection has encouraged him to follow his creative potential and cemented his commitment to filmmaking. The greatest reward for Ben was being able to share his Grandfather’s story with a larger audience and observe their reactions to his film.

This year’s Top Screen program attracted close to 4,000 attendees across the 17 sessions programmed. Sessions included a variety of education programs and a chance for students and teachers to view the production design plans of the Top Screen films.

Top Screen, part of the VCE Season of Excellence, is a short film program comprising narratives, documentaries, music clips and animations produced by VCE Media students. To find out more, go to the Top Screen webpage.

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Season of Excellence survey reminder

Did you attend the 2017 VCE Season of Excellence? The VCAA would like to hear about your Season experience!

Your feedback is important and will provide valuable insights towards our continued improvement and innovative delivery of these events.

Complete a survey and you can be in the running to win a VCE Season of Excellence Prize Pack, containing every Top Designs catalogue from 2007–2017. To enter the draw, redeem a prize code at the end of your completed survey and email: seasonofexcellence@edumail.vic.gov.au.

The online surveys for Top Acts, Top Class, Top Designs and Top Screen have been extended until Monday 14 August 2017.

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VCAA Board Appreciation Awards 2017

Three people smiling to camera

L to R: John Firth, retired CEO VCAA, Briellen Ramsay, Chris Wardlaw, Chair VCAA

Briellen Ramsay from Galen Catholic College and Simon Han from Huntingtower School have been announced as the recipients of the 2017 VCAA Board Appreciation Awards.

The Board Appreciation Awards celebrate the talent, hard work and dedication of VCE students whose works are featured in VCE Season of Excellence exhibitions. Winners receive a certificate and $1000 to put towards their continued education and exploration in their chosen fields.

Briellen was recognised for her stop-motion animation the Life that Glows (2016), which appeared in the 2017 Top Arts exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.

Inspired by A. A. Milne’s classic Winnie the Pooh, Briellen’s stop-motion animation explores the magical world of children’s adventure literature. Her narrative depicts the journey of a boy wandering through a fantasy world created by his own imagination. To create the work Briellen constructed a stunning figure and landscape set using only paper, glue and wire. She then brought the scenes to life by incrementally moving the characters and photographing the animation frame-by-frame to produce the seamless illusion of movement.

Model of sustainable elevated apartment building

Cloud Forest by Simon Han

Briellen was honoured to receive the VCAA Board Achievement Award and be part of Top Arts. ‘It is a great privilege to have my work exhibited among some of the most talented young artists in Victoria’, she said. The acknowledgement and recognition have motivated Briellen to continue pursuing a career in the arts and animation.

Top Designs exhibitor Simon impressed the Board with his 3D architectural model Cloud Forest, which he created for VCE Visual Communication Design.

Simon’s model depicts a modern apartment building elevated over a field of trees so as to appear as a green cloud floating peacefully in the city. Constructed from foam and bamboo sticks, the piece seeks to revolutionise traditional apartment design by bringing together urban and suburban life. To accompany the model, Simon produced a detailed sustainability plan on how to incorporate the latest energy sourcing technology in the development.

The Board Achievement Award came as a surprise to Simon, who was excited to learn that his work stood out among the high quality of exhibitors at Top Designs. The inspiration to create an innovative and original design plan started when Simon visited Top Designs last year, ‘I was really encouraged to see that the VCE curriculum supports students’ creativity’, he said.

Chris Wardlaw, Chair of the VCAA, said it was wonderful to see the extraordinary works created by the young people exhibited in iconic Victorian venues – Top Designs at the Melbourne Museum and Top Arts at the NGV. ‘Briellen and Simon’s works were very popular choices this year, and are truly indicative of the high quality of work we see displayed in the VCE Season of Excellence’, he said.

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Focus On… Theatre Studies films ready for viewing

Young male actor performing on stage wearing a top hat and suit

Broderick McDonald

Teachers and students can gain invaluable understanding of the process of creating an exemplary VCE Theatre Studies performance through the new Focus On… Theatre Studies short films.

Focus On… Theatre Studies explores the artistic development of three students’ Top Acts 2017 performances, as well as interviews with their teachers, the VCAA Performing Arts Curriculum Manager, Helen Champion and the 2017 Top Acts Artistic Director, Dan Mitchell.

The films, created by Top Screen 2017 filmmakers Tom Hughes, Neha Shenvi and Shanon McKenzie, were produced as part of the 2017 VCE Season of Excellence. The actors featured in the films are Broderick McDonald from Swinburne Senior Secondary College, Flynn Smeaton from St Michael’s Grammar School, and Candice Farrugia-Roberts from Mount Lilydale Mercy College.

Young female performing on stage lying close to the stage delivering her lines

Candice Farrugia-Roberts

Broderick McDonald is grateful to have chosen VCE Theatre Studies, as preparing his performance exam helped him to develop unique problem solving skills, and improved his critical and creative thinking. In the film Broderick shares the artistic process that took place in crafting his character, and his top tips for nailing the performance assessment. Broderick’s teacher Mark Bailey, offers key insights into how he supports engagement and excellence in his students. Helen Champion and Dan Mitchell also explain the reasons Broderick’s performance stands out, and why he was chosen to take part in Top Acts.

Candice Farrugia-Roberts discusses how Theatre Studies opened her eyes to all aspects of the production process, and shares the primary reason she excelled in her assessment. Her teacher, Kamahl Russell, explains how feedback was used to make Candice’s character resonate on stage and how students should use guidance from their teachers to improve their work. Helen and Dan give helpful perspectives on the choices that Candice made for her character that elevated her work above other performers.

Young female performing on stage wearing an eleaborate gown and feathered head dress

Flynn Smeaton

A Shakespearean monologue is no easy feat for an actor to deliver. Flynn Smeaton explores the challenges he went through to bring the character of Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to life on stage, and how his research informed his acting and production choices. Helen examines how the use of space is an integral part of his performance, and the value that Flynn’s research added to his interpretation of the monologue. Teacher Scott Crozier explains how to respond to the different needs of students, and the importance of the process that takes place in the lead up to the performance.

To watch Focus On… Theatre Studies and other short-films featuring Top Acts performers from 2015–2017, or to order the DVD of Top Acts: Focus on… Dance, please visit the Top Acts webpage.

If you would like to receive regular Season updates straight to your inbox, please register using the form on the Season webpage.

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Plain English Speaking Award

Invitation to the 40th anniversary: National Final of the Plain English Speaking Award

Six of Australia’s most extraordinary young thinkers will compete in the National Final of the Plain English Speaking Awards (PESA) at the NGV International on Monday 14 August 2017.

Six young female high school students in a row smiling for the camera

L to R: Plain English Speaking Awards semifinalists Casey Williams, Cree Oliveria (State Finalist) , Nicole Teh,
Grace Arnold, Thalia Thirunavukarasu and Niamh Nolan (State Finalist)

PESA celebrates the perspectives of students aged 15 to 18, giving them a platform to share their ideas and perspectives in a public forum. In the Victorian State final, topics included modern feminism, reconciliation through education, the commercialisation of mental illness, regional Australian stereotypes, the consumption of online news and Australian intellectualism.

This year marks the national competition’s 40th anniversary. PESA has a rich history of uncovering Australia’s next great thinkers, orators and entertainers. Previous national winners include comedian, activist and TV personality Tom Ballard, producer and comedian Julian Morrow (The Chaser) and renowned journalist Peter Hartcher, who went on to win the international competition in 1982. Inaugural 1977 winner Dr Mary-Rose McLaren is a published author and currently a Senior Lecturer in Art and Education at Victoria University. Dr McLaren will be returning to the NGV this year to adjudicate the National Awards.

The National PESA champion will represent Australia in 2018 at the English-Speaking Union’s International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC) in London, the world’s largest youth public speaking event. Over 50,000 students compete worldwide to win the chance at representing their countries at the ISPC.

The 2016 national and Victorian PESA winner Luke Macaronas won the 2017 IPSC in May. Luke became the second student in five years to obtain a win for Australia at the international competition following Isabel Crawford’s success in 2013.

The VCAA congratulates Anand Bharadwaj (Trinity Grammar School), Fergus Dale (Caulfield Grammar School), Emma Darvas (Bayside P–12 College), Shahani Munaff (Al-Taqwa College), Niamh Nolan (St Leonard’s College) and Cree Oliveira (Nossal High School), who will compete in the upcoming Victorian State Final on Wednesday 26 July. The winner of the State Final will go on to represent Victoria in the National Final.

To book your free tickets for the National Final, please visit the VCAA website by Monday 7 August.

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