STAWELL Secondary College's Myles Gellie topped the VCAL class for 2021 with the highest marks for his work throughout the study year.
Despite Myles finishing school early to take a traineeship at GWMWater, his top marks came from his dedication and the 'extra mile' he put in for his classes.
For one of his tasks, Myles coordinated and hosted an emergency services expo at the Secondary College to help bring awareness of jobs and roles to his peers.
Myles said he was surprised when he received a phone call to say he was awarded the school's highest honour for VCAL for the year.
"Talking to other people and they weren't surprised I got it," he said.
"I thought I would be scrubbed off the books because I left to take up my job."
Myles said a lot of people referred to VCAL as a cop-out of VCE, but explained it wasn't.
"It's a lot about self-motivation. The way I put it into perspective is that in VCE your teachers get assessments from the Education Department that say you've got to make up a task for the students within criteria.
"They say you've got to read a book and do an essay about it.
"In VCAL as students, we have to do what the teachers are doing."
Myles said VCAL students are given the criteria and offered examples of what they could do to meet those criteria.
"I'm most proud of the Emergency Services Expo that I coordinated," he said.
"It took half a year of planning and of course, COVID-19 lockdowns didn't help.
"I got a lot of messages from teachers saying they felt it was really good and one of the best VCAL products they've had in a while.
"I had a lot of people from emergency services saying it was wonderful to meet other volunteers and workers - some that you might see at a scene but never meet outside of an emergency call out."
Myles started working for GWMWater in August as a water service operator trainee.
"I really enjoy it," he said.
"I did a plumbing course and really enjoyed it. I said throughout the year if a job opportunity came up and it seemed like the right fit I would apply and go for it."
Myles said he would miss seeing all his classmates and friends every day.
"You don't realise it at the time but it's a big change going from seeing everyone every day to maybe seeing them once a week at the weekend if you are lucky," he said.
"One piece of advice I can offer any VCAL student was to pick a focus and something you are interested in and passionate about - it makes it a lot easier."
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