Sophie Drummond-Hall (Class of 2023) recently shared her experiences as an Academic Scholarship student and the many opportunities for learning at Caulfield Grammar. 

Excelling academically – receiving the University of Melbourne Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholar Award, The Brian Gedye Prize for Global Politics, The School Prize for English and Academic Triple Colours in Year 12 (re-awarded) – Sophie shares that the most powerful takeaways from her School journey are the people she surrounded herself with and the incredible learning opportunities made available to her.  

Sophie’s enthusiasm and contribution in all aspects of our School community – from leadership roles such as Sustainability Committee Captain, Debating Captain and Year 11 Peer Leader to participation in concerts and theatre productions, debating coaching and House events – saw her recognised with The School Encouragement in Music Prize, Music Triple Colours, Debating Double Colours, Mooting Colours and Service to House Triple Colours, to name but a few.  

Hear Sophie’s story or read below:  

Interview with Sophie Drummond-Hall – Academic Scholarship Recipient 

I received an academic scholarship to come here [Caulfield Grammar School] in Year 7, which was really exciting because Caulfield was so close and it is a great School that has so many opportunities, not just in the classroom but in Performing Arts and Sport. 

I did some of the productions, some of the musicals, even in my last year at school I did one of the Dance productions and APS Touch Football and Netball. Then I was involved with debating and mooting, as well as community service, the Sustainability Committee, and I also loved being part of the Music Department.  

There’s just an environment at Caulfield Grammar where everybody’s willing to give everything a go. People are willing to put themselves out of their comfort zone – teachers, students, friends – and I think that energy is really infectious. It really encourages you to take a step and do something that you’re not super confident in. 

There’s definitely been so many different highlights across my time at Caulfield, but one that really stands out for me would have to be the Year 9 Kakadu Program. It was just such an amazing experience and doing it in Year 11 [delayed because of COVID], I feel like it was really a great group of people that we were around. I met so many new people, made so many new friends, and it’s just such an amazing opportunity to go to an area of Australia that not everybody will get a chance to go to. And some of the opportunities that we got to do as a school group, learning about the culture and history there, was really special. 

I’m starting a Melbourne University Arts Degree in February, and I’m looking at studying Politics and International Relations. That was definitely inspired by doing Politics in Year 12 and the passion of my teacher Mrs Parker and all the things we learnt about – I feel like that really gave me a drive to want to be involved in that kind of stuff as part of a career. I just always found that really motivating and inspiring. 

Sophie also inspired current Secondary School students at the recent Caulfield Campus Class of 2023 Scholars’ Assembly, which celebrated not only the academic achievements of our graduates who attain a VCE ATAR score of 98 or above but also the broad and balanced co-curricular activities and contributions of students during 2023. Sophie reflected on the importance of community and opportunity during her school journey.  

You can listen to Sophie’ s Reflection or read it below: 

Scholars Reflection – Sophie Drummond-Hall 

Firstly, I’d just like to begin by saying it is such an honour to speak on behalf of a group of such hardworking, amazing individuals. I’d also like to thank the School Leadership team for all the opportunities that we have on offer here at Caulfield Grammar and all the staff for everything that they do to help everyone have the best experience possible.  

While looking back on my time at Caulfield to draft this speech, there were so many different ideas and memories that came to mind, but so many of them boiled down to one thing – the people that you surround yourself with.  

I have so many amazing memories of camps, formals and House events, but there are also smaller, quieter memories that I often return to when people ask me about school: mornings studying with friends at the library; meetings at recess that are nowhere near as exciting but reflect what has easily been one of my biggest gratitudes from my time at Caulfield; the support system that you have around you; and the people you get to share this experience with. 

VCE specifically is often pitched as a competition – for top ranking, for certain scores – and when things are getting busy and hectic it can be easy to isolate yourself, to have the mindset that studying is just sitting at your desk by yourself for hours on end working against every other student who is doing the same thing.  

But my biggest piece of advice is to flip this narrative and to work together with the people around you, collaborate with classmates, share notes and ideas, talk through essays together, be on the same team. Send your teachers a million emails, meet with them, give them practice work. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated the amount of support and assistance you get at Caulfield until I attempted to do my university enrolment by myself; so seriously, just don’t be afraid to ask for help.  

Study with friends – whether you are super productive or don’t even end up opening a book, simply spending time with people who ground you and remind you that the world is bigger than one SAC or exam is just as important as the time you put into studying; talk to someone you haven’t spoken to before, get to know new people; actually have a conversation with your parents when they ask how your day was.  

When I was trying to figure out how to put all of this into words, I came across a quote that really articulated the sentiment I wanted to express: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”  

Regardless of whatever stage you’re at with school or life in general, tackle it together with your own support system, allow people in, to be with you through all your highs and lows, and in return, be a shoulder to lean on for those around you.  

Some final things I wanted to briefly touch on. 

There is so much information out there about the “perfect” way to study, homework hacks, the secret to getting an A+ on your exam. And while I’d encourage you to try and absorb lots of different ways to approach things, it doesn’t matter what’s conventional, it doesn’t matter what works for someone else, the most important thing is what works for you.  

Don’t be afraid to try things that you are bad at. You never know where an opportunity may lead, so just say “yes” to as many things as possible. It is so freeing to let go of the need to be good at something before you start. Allow yourself to try a new activity or skill from the very first step – it is never too late to start. Join the club, try out for the sports team, join Upstage even if you can’t dance – that last one’s definitely from personal experience.  

A friend told me very explicitly: “Please don’t say all the cringy things about just enjoying the journey.” So I won’t do that. But I will say this: Appreciate every experience at school before it is your last – your last class, your last recess with friends, your last sporting match or last performance. The little moments really do all add up and they are things you will truly appreciate with the gift of hindsight.  

Good luck to all the Year 12s and I hope everyone has a great year!