When Dominique-Dee Jones logged on to check her 2020 VCE results, she couldn’t quite believe her eyes. Along with her fellow 2020 VCE students across the state, the Melton Secondary College school captain had endured a tumultuous year as strict COVID-19 lockdown measures and school closures sent education into an unprecedented tailspin.

But Dominique-Dee’s determination and dedication had carried her through to a remarkable score of 99.75. “It’s pretty surreal because you always think about this number for the whole of year 12, then when it comes you don’t know what it’s going to be – it’s quite overwhelming,” she said. “I had woken up at 6am, I logged in and I was pretty taken back by it.

“Throughout the year I had had my mind set on getting something above a 90, but never did I expect to get something in the 99s.” Dominique-Dee last week received a hoped-for offer to study a bachelor of arts at the University of Melbourne, where she intends to pursue her passions of politics and Indigenous studies. “It’s the learning aspect I’m interested in at the moment, but I definitely do have ambitions to work with Indigenous issues in the policy setting, to better their experience,” she said. “Learning the subject within the school opened my mind to social issues and the injustice that goes on in society.”

Melton Secondary College had five VCE students score 90 or above in all, a result that curriculum and enrichment director Rachel Barney attributed to the students’ following their interests and passions. Sasha Bolster received 95.3, Alliyah Mendoza scored 94.4, Noah Collins 91 and Jessica Harrowfield 90.

Dominique-Dee said the school had been remarkably supportive during the year, which included long periods of remote learning due to the COVID-19 lockdown. “I think it was definitely different and obviously something we never expected to happen,” she said. “I think my mindset stayed the same and I still had my goals and ambitions and to achieve them I had to stay positive and determined. “I definitely think the support our college and teachers and the support staff gave us was a tremendous help in navigating this thing that nobody has ever really experienced before.”

Benjamin Millar, Star weekly