We are delighted to announce that Mentonians Charlie McFarlane (Class of 2022) and Jevons Wang (Class of 2022), along with Jiahao Qian (Year 12) received accolades at last night’s Premier’s VCE Awards ceremony on Thursday 27 July 2023 for their exceptional VCE results in 2022.

Charlie was recognised for his outstanding achievement in Creative and Digital Media VCE/VET (Teacher: Peter Zerman), Jiahao for Further Mathematics (Teacher: Jodi Shepherd), and Jevons for Visual Communication Design (Teacher: Michele Gill). This places them amongst the most outstanding VCE students in the state for 2022.

These awards serve as a fitting tribute to the dedication and hard work these students have put into their studies and attest to the high quality of teaching and guidance they have received at our school.

Charlie McFarlane (Class of 2022), who is currently pursuing engineering at Monash University, mentioned that studying Creative & Digital Media (CDM) during his VCE was an excellent fit for him, as the course included technology, visual design, and programming. However, the subjective nature of visual design made it challenging for Charlie, but he overcame this by utilising many resources like practice exams to interpret designs accurately. Charlie also highlighted the importance of Mr Zerman’s support, “I can’t thank Mr Zerman enough as he always answered my questions in class and on Teams which helped me further broaden my knowledge of the subject.” 

Getting the top score in the state was an unusual feeling for Charlie, “I was unsure of myself after the final exam. So this was a good reminder to not doubt myself, especially when I had worked hard throughout the year to achieve this score.” 

The collaborative environment of the CDM classes played a significant role in Charlie’s learning experience. “Our workstations were arranged to allow all computers to face each other, making it easy to view each other’s work-in-progress and collaborate.” In Peter Zerman’s class,  students are encouraged to work together, share ideas, and collectively enhance their skills and knowledge. This setup closely resembles the collaborative workspace of a design company. 

CDM Teacher, Peter Zerman, takes great pride in observing the achievements of his students. According to Peter, “Charlie demonstrated exceptional performance through his dedicated preparation for exams. He utilized all the resources provided and actively worked towards enhancing his grasp of the curriculum.” Furthermore, “Charlie’s light-hearted approach to the subject added an enjoyable and vibrant atmosphere to the classroom.” 

According to Peter, who has aided 10 students to attain the Premier’s VCE Award, there are numerous factors that contribute to their success. These include “having high expectations for my students, providing various resources, promoting collaboration, having in-depth content knowledge and experience, and encouraging students to develop practical skills that they can utilise for the practical section of the exam and in theory questions.” Based on his experiences, Peter has noticed that students tend to retain knowledge better through practical experience rather than simply memorizing facts. 

Jevons Wang (Class of 2022) is pursuing a Bachelor of Design at The University of Melbourne, specialising in architecture and graphic design. He credits Visual Communication Design (VCD) with enhancing his proficiency in analogue and digital visualization. While considering factors such as ATAR scaling and managing two portfolio classes, including Visual Arts “I firmly believe that picking subjects you enjoy leads to better results and a more enjoyable learning experience.” 

Jevons expresses his pride in receiving the Premiers Award, stating “It was a goal of mine to attain this award, so it’s rewarding to work so hard during the year and be recognised for it.” However, now looking back on his Year 12 studies, he stresses that success in the design industry is not solely based on grades and academic assessment. Instead, “subjective ideas, effective communication, networking, and the ability to differentiate oneself are integral to succeed in the field.” 

According to Jevons, Mentone Grammar supports students in achieving their goals by providing them with all the resources they need. “After-school studio sessions are available, materials and supplies are provided and the Visual Arts Department are there to help,” he said. “The teachers gave up their lunch times and after school to help me succeed. They were always willing to support students who strive for creativity and personal growth.” 

VCD Teacher, Michele Gill,  said that Jevons consistently went above and beyond. Michele commends Jevons for his willingness to absorb feedback, his commitment to regular check-ins, and his unwavering consistency in his work. “ If I had to use one word to describe his work ethic, it would be passionate. Passion drove him.”

Notably, Michele holds the title of Head of Visual Arts at Mentone Grammar and has successfully guided five students to obtain the prestigious Premier’s VCE Award. She sets high expectations for her students and strives to create dynamic, challenging, and diverse lessons. “I love surprising my students with unexpected challenges and delight in being a part of their creative journey. Seeing my students flourish, acquire new skills, and take pride in their work brings me immense joy.” Collaborating with Jevons was a pleasure for Michele, as his dedication to the subject was unmistakable.

As well as winning the Premier’s Award for Visual Communication Design, his sculpture named ‘Where Your Faith Lies’ has been featured in the annual Top Arts Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Top Arts 2023 celebrates the outstanding achievements of Victoria’s most gifted young artists. Drawn from a range of media, topics, schools and students, Top Arts is part of the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority’s annual VCE Season of Excellence.  (Read more here)

Visual Arts Teacher, Kim Wootton commented that “Jevons’ selection for the Top Arts Exhibition is a remarkable accomplishment, as only 44 pieces created by 38 students made the cut. The selection panel had to evaluate over 1400 entries and sought works that demonstrated considerable creativity, originality, technical mastery, and aesthetic thought. Jevons’ selection is a significant recognition of his work and highlights Mentone Grammar’s strong commitment to contemporary art and arts education. 

Jevons’ advice for younger students wanting to pursue a Visual Arts subject is “follow your interests and passions, choose a project which genuinely gets you excited to work on, rather than choosing something you think is ‘best’, or what markers want. If you want to pursue design in the real world, there are budget constraints, strict briefs, and ensuring others’ satisfaction, so enjoy creating something purely for yourself and maximise your potential.” 

The entire Mentone Grammar Community is extremely proud of Charlie, Jiahao, and Jevons, and would like to congratulate them on being the recipients of such a prestigious award!

Jevons Wang - VCD submission #1
Jevons Wang - VCD submission #2