Ocean Reef SHS - Independent Public School Perth

Alumni Stories

Where are they now?

Read about our amazing Alumni below and find out about their lives after high school.

Candice Bydder (nee Barnes) - Class of 2003, Head Girl

Ocean Reef SHS

After leaving school, I went to university and enjoyed a career as a broadcast journalist for 10 years, before “growing up”, that is, getting married, changing careers (to full-time marriage celebrant) and starting a family (my children are currently three and five years old).

I went about my studies in a roundabout way. I started studying broadcast journalism at Murdoch, but dropped out after less than a year as I was going through some personal issues. In hindsight, it was partly burnout, as I’d worked really hard and never really taken a break. I worked full time as a receptionist for a year to gain some life experience and do a bit of a mindset re-set, which proved to be just the thing I needed. I dipped my toe back into study via vocational training, completing a video production course through the Film & Television Institute (now absorbed into ScreenWest). From there, I jumped into an accelerated undergraduate degree course through the WA Academy of Performing Arts, earned my Bachelor in 12 months, and auditioned for the competitive Postgraduate Broadcasting program. The lecturers were people I’d watched on TV growing up, so was a bit starstruck at first, but by the end of the postgrad we were all good mates. That postgrad opened a lot of doors for me, and after a trial at Channel Nine, I started in the newsroom! Initially, I was a video journalist for WIN News, travelling all over the state and covering all sorts of stories. Meeting so many different people, who were going through so many different life experiences was very confronting sometimes, but it gave me a better appreciation of life and how precious it can be.

After I was promoted to Perth, I took on some weather presenting which I adored. All of the science studies at ORSHS really helped a lot there! It felt very surreal seeing myself in promotions, with hair and makeup done, knowing that the “real” me was much less polished than the person on the screen. Sadly, there were some big changes in the media industry around 2010 and there were massive cutbacks in the newsrooms. I was made redundant, which was one of the worst experiences in my life, and eventually found work in public relations – firstly at the Heart Foundation, then at Murdoch University. But, I still loved the adrenaline and creativity of news, so when the industry picked up again, I landed a job as the entertainment reporter at WAtoday.com.au. This job was amazing. Very high stress, very long hours, but I saw things and met people I never thought possible. We shared an office with Radio 6PR, which enticed me with some radio news reading, and eventually, radio producing. Talkback radio is… weird-but-wonderful. The news side of it is immediate, interesting, and full of surprises. The actual talkback you hear is only a fraction of the calls that come in, so it’s a real balancing act of responsibilities.

Around this time, I got a sense that the media industry had changed so much that it was barely recognisable to me. The news bulletins became increasingly negative, lots of “doom and gloom”. Some of the best rating news stories were trivial things, tidbits of gossip that showed the worst of the world, rather than a balance of light and shade. I also had developed a better sense of who I was, and what my values were, around this time. I started transitioning out of media for a few reasons. Firstly, I wanted to do something nice for people and experience the best of the world, rather than the worst of the world. Secondly, the money in media wasn’t that good. Becoming a marriage celebrant and starting my own business meant that I would have flexible working hours as I started my family, could set my own financial goals, make time to volunteer (which is very important to me) and do something creative, all while using my existing skills. It took a year of hard work to build to full time, but it’s been such a rewarding career choice, with double the pay and a lot more freedom.

Mr Vince Donnelly and Mrs Katrina Watson (nee Bonser) were beyond crucial in guiding so many of my life decisions – they would have no idea how deep their impact was. These two inspired me to seriously consider media as a career path and attending Miss Bonser’s / Mrs Watson’s wedding was my first real experience of what a wedding could look like. I’ll always remember how happy / excited / nervous she looked that day, and which parts of the ceremony and reception struck me as memorable. I regularly look back at those memories in trying to create amazing experiences for the people I work with. And it’s working! This year, I was super lucky to fly to Sydney to be named Australia’s best marriage celebrant and bring home a giant trophy for Western Australia.

For students, I want to remind them that it’s never too late to change your mind. You can set a new goal anytime. You can change your career anytime. You will never lose educating yourself. Gather as much knowledge as you can, whether it’s through formal study or through life experience. Don’t give up, because new doors open all the time, even if you have to knock them down yourself.

Ocean Reef SHS

My experiences at Ocean Reef Senior High School helped to shape me greatly. I was the Head Boy in the Class of 2003 – a special year for us as we are celebrating 20 years since graduating later this year. I have great memories at the Arts Block, participating in the Rock Eisteddfod in 2001 and 2003, along with amazing times shared through camps and the school Balls in Year 11 and 12. I still have the videos! The opportunity to represent the school as Head Boy provided a great foundation and helped shape my abilities in public speaking, which now form part of my career as an MC (Master of Ceremonies) and Keynote Speaker. As a student I did not follow the ‘TEE’ (ATAR) pathway of studies however I gained entry to Edith Cowan University by invitation to their ‘Preparation’ Course. It was only 6 months and then I entered my course of preference.

I graduated University with a Bachelor of Communications in Film and Video and Creative Technologies, and I would like to thank and acknowledge the ORSHS Media Studies and Arts classes for helping me to embrace and love my creativity. I continued my tertiary studies further and now have a Master of Business Administration (MBA). In 2020 I started my own business – Rocket Launcher, which is a strategic marketing company – www.rocketlauncher.com.au Following the launch of my business I also developed the Perth Networking Club (www.perthnetworking.club) in 2021. The aim of the Perth Networking Club is to provide business networking opportunities that bring together corporate and not for profits organisations with the aim to continue the human connection in business, focusing more on connections, rather than sales. I was acknowledged for my work in 2023 with a nomination to the Business News 40 under 40 awards.

I am also proud to have been involved in helping to set up Perth Spectres Basketball Club – a club focusing on supporting LGBTQIA+ people get into sport and play basketball with friends (all people). I have recently become President of Team Perth which is the Peak Body for LGBTIQA+ sport in Perth, we want all people to feel safe playing sport. Further career and personal highlights are having been acknowledged for my art, including winning awards and being published in an art book, being nominated for Citizen of the Year by the City of Perth in 2022, Business News 2023 40 under 40 awards along with 2023 RKCC Mineral Resources Regional Business Awards in the Micro Business and Digital & Innovation Categories. In recent months I have also been nominated for 2023 WA Mental Health Award in the Diversity Category. I share more information about myself, achievements and skills on my website: https://justinkbarnes.com.au/

I would like to offer, through my own my life experiences, that I have learned there are multiple pathways to a successful career, especially if you follow your passions. I am a great example of someone who worked hard and followed the things I love which has led to the successes in my life including gaining entry to university outside of the traditional method and starting my own business. If you are feeling under pressure to know what to do with your life or what direction to take, then I encourage you to spend time reflecting on what elements of life empower you, and to pursue the things you love. If you feel like you do not understand your identity, speak to someone about it. We all feel overwhelmed at times but there are truly wonderful people around all of us and all they want to just see us happy. Tell them who you truly are and always follow your heart.

Ocean Reef SHS    Ocean Reef SHS

After high school I completed three successful years at Central Institute of Technology TAFE, achieving an Advanced Diploma in Screen Studies Majoring in Film Editing and a Minor in Directing. I edited two short films, “Assassin” and “Tournamental,” and worked on a total of five films, earning experience across post-production in the field. I spent two years as a freelance film and video editor, editing a few short films and building a clientele of corporate videos. I then enrolled into ECU’s film course at The Western Australian Screen Academy (WASA) in 2016.

During my studies at University, I was fortunate to meet and be inspired by industry legends:

– John Cleese – Screen Legend
– Donald McAlpine – legendary Australian Film Cinematographer
– Nancy Spielberg
– Jack Thompson
– Simon Baker

Since university, I have edited several award-winning films (Drama and Documentaries) and edited client based work that includes the short film “Quartermaine,” which won five Channel 9 Awards. I was the Assistant Editor for the short documentary “Deighties: Dating in your Eighties” which is now being adapted for a series on the ABC. I have worked on various client based projects for the Jackman Furness Foundation, along with a concept pitch video for Producer Paul Barron, making a total of 10 projects for the Academy.

I have edited a feature film “The Decadent and Depraved” which gained a global release, and am honoured to say, that I won the ORINIOS International Film Award for Best Editor in 2018. I was the Script Editor, Data Wrangler and Assistant Editor on my second feature film “Before Dawn,” which was shot in 2021 in Esperance, and is scheduled for release in 2024. I recently worked at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival where my friends Ben Young (“Devil’s Peak”) and Mason Fleming had their films premiere.

I have worked with Stephen Peacocke, Myles Pollard, Ben Young and other film talents representing Western Australia, and have established relationships with everybody in the Perth Film Community. I am currently being mentored and lectured by Industry Film Editors Lawrie Silvestrin, Jonathan Rowdon and Meredith Watson Jeffrey. I am presently working with Producers and companies producing edited client based work, in between films in that are in development.

During my time at Ocean Reef I learnt a lot about what interests me and what my passion for my future career in life was. I leaned   towards the Creative Arts and excelled in Photography, Drama and Media.

Mr. Brian Loxton who taught my photography class develop my determination and   a strong work ethic. I learnt a lot about how to tell emotion with the camera and find a point of view on life through the lens. He was a patient, caring and generous teacher and mentor. For five years I earned an “A” at least once in each subject except Mrs Loxton’s class, where I earnt a B+ consistently. I finally earned an A+ in his class in Year 12 after I threatened to repeat the year!! To finally get one for Photography in his class, in Year 12, was a real monkey off my back. At my Year 12 Graduation Mr. Loxton awarded me the “Best   Photography” Student Award to ensure I didn’t come back!!!

Mr. Vincent Donnelly taught the Media Class for Years 8-12 and I’m pleased to see is still currently teaching. He inspired my current role in my profession. I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of actors and filmmakers who inspired me by their work. However, Mr. Donnelly encouraged me to take up Editing. I had a basic understanding of the craft and Mr. Donnelly nurtured my   developing skills and talent throughout the five years I studied under his stewardship and professionalism. I also learnt the importance of storytelling, and the power to develop a voice and creative vision within the craft for visual storytelling. Most importantly, I cemented my passion for the craft and experienced the joy of entertaining an audience through filmmaking and this medium. I am proud to represent Mr. Donnelly in each work I do and have to thank him for being instrumental in developing my successful career since my graduation.

Ms. J Hotop taught Drama in Year 11 and 12. Ms. Hotop was a very passionate teacher of the Arts and Performance and expected nothing but the best from her students and certainly from me. She saw great potential in me as a performer and I learned how to be a great success in this art form through determination and hard work under her mentorship. Through her love of drama and promoting successful acting and performance skills, I learned the importance of discipline and commitment in learning lines and putting the time into this art form through rehearsal and preparation of paperwork. Most of all I gained the joy of learning the craft as she was very professional and esteemed in her approach to teaching the craft of acting. I learned how to bring a script and character to life and be a part of a team and ensemble. I am very happy to have made her proud in the well-received Year 12 Christmas performance drama night and my good results for my end of Year 12 practical exam. These momentous occasions are a memory and pleasure I will never forget. I have kept that hard work ethic and positive attitude towards my work ever since.

When I look back at the teaching staff I had the privilege of being taught under, Mrs. Hesford Career Education, Mr. O’Kaine Vice-Principal, Mr. Donnelly, Ms. Hotop, Mr. Loxton, Mr. Lalor to name a few, I acknowledge the professionalism I experienced and the passion and commitment they had not just for the work and legacy but the respect they had for the School and more   importantly the students they were responsible for. They all brought out the best in each of us and inspired us all to be the best that we could be.

It’s very appropriate that the symbol of Ocean Reef Senior High School is one of a ship – it takes great leadership to “Sail Forth” to where you need to go to in life. For five years I was blessed to be a part of a special group of students and staff who I hope I have made proud as a graduate, as I am most proud of being a graduate of Ocean Reef Senior High School.

The greatest gift you can ever give a student is your time and inspiration. I got that and more from Ocean Reef.

Favourite memories from your time at Ocean Reef SHS:

  • Drama Class Yrs 8-12.
  • Christmas performances Yr 11 and Yr 12
  • Photography Class Yr 8-12

What advice do you have for Ocean Reef SHS students?

When I was a student at Ocean Reef I learned the importance of hard work, responsibility, commitment and perseverance.

You, as a student and young professional have a great future ahead of you and only you as an individual can make your future a bright one. You are the only one that can walk through the door of success and opportunity, so take every opportunity to get your   foot in the door and learn the job. I encourage you to be committed to learning your chosen craft or career to the full. Achieving your goals requires commitment and earning a place in your desired field is a life pursuit. Making connections in your chosen field will also hold you in good stead throughout your career.

Please also know success and opportunities take time to materialise, don’t give up or let fear hold you back – embrace the fact that you have a strong spirit.

Share your Story.

We invite former students to contribute to our Alumni Stories to help us connect with our past students and provide inspiration to our current students on life’s opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you!

Alumni Stories

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