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What has Tonbridge taught you? Our Upper Sixth leavers give their views

‘Tonbridge Portraits’: Some of our Upper Sixth leavers reflect on their Tonbridge days, and also look forward to the next stage in their educational careers and in their lives.
 

Tommy Walker
Boarder, Hill Side

"A PhD in Astrophysics would be really cool"


A-levels 
Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
I’ve really enjoyed Physics: a fascinating subject in its own right, but getting involved in the super curricular programme offered by the department is what made it so special. We were given so many opportunities to carry out practical work of our own choosing, beyond the A-level syllabus. This was both hugely exciting at the time and has been useful in preparing me for further study. 

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice? 
Durham – I really like the community that a collegiate university creates, and the city itself seems like a great place to be a student. I will read Physics with Astronomy: the departments at Durham produce lots of fascinating research, and I’d like to be a part of that.

What are your career aspirations?
I’d like to do something technical, finding out how things work, so a career in engineering sounds appealing. 

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
I think a PhD in Astrophysics would be really cool. 

Is there one particular highlight?
Performing Holst’s The Planets with the School’s Symphony Orchestra (in March 2019) is a standout moment for me. It was a great example of months of rehearsal all coming together to great effect. The atmosphere in the Chapel that evening was really special, and it will remain with me for a long time. 

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
A lot of the opportunities you are presented with here are unique, so make the most of as many of them as you can. When will you get another chance like this?

 

Jeremy Suppey
Day boy, Smythe House

"Winning House Music has to be one of the biggest triumphs"

A-levels 
Pre-U Music, English, Politics.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
In various ways, I have enjoyed all my subjects. Politics, because I enjoy current affairs, and you often see the things you learn in class happening around you in the real world. English, as I have enjoyed studying various texts, from Paradise Lost to A Clockwork Orange. I love analysing music and always having an opportunity to perform is enjoyable. 

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice? 
The University of Manchester, to read Music. It’s a top university for the subject academically and it has a lot of musical opportunities, including with the Royal Northern College of Music and across the city.

What are your career aspirations?
I’m not sure yet, but I think in some way I will be involved in the music industry. There’s lots of things I could do so it’s a matter of time.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
It really depends on the career path I find myself on. If music, I would love to be playing concerts, recording and touring around the world.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? Can you say what the best aspects have been?
My time at Tonbridge will stick with me forever. The opportunities have been great, but it is the day-to-day interactions – with a teacher, just walking around the school, my housemates or with my classmates – that I have enjoyed.

Is there one particular highlight?
Winning House Music this year has to be one of the biggest triumphs for me. We were so close in winning the Best Acoustic Prize the year before, and this gave us that extra drive to push for the top award.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
Although it’s good to be independent, friendship is so important. Get involved in things, be sociable and enjoy those moments.

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Five years goes so fast, so get stuck in as much as you can!

Anything else you’d like to add …?
I will miss Tonbridge a lot. I have had some amazing experiences and moments, and I am grateful for them.

 

Hiro Pakdeevutitam 
Boarder, School House

"I cannot wait to start a new chapter of my life in the capital" 

A-levels 
Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Economics.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
As a double Mathematician, you obviously spend a lot of time doing Maths and I have embraced that over the past two years. The breadth of content covered across Maths and Further Maths – from calculus and complex numbers, to various areas in mechanics and statistics – has really challenged me, and equipped me with the skills to tackle the initial parts of my course at university. I have also enjoyed studying Economics, which has given me a good grounding in real world matters and what makes the world economy tick. 

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice? 
Imperial College London. It is one of the premier Science institutions in the world and it is also a leader in the field I would like to study, which is Engineering. Beyond that, a campus in the centre of London really appealed to me and I cannot wait to start a new chapter of my life in the capital. 

What will you be studying?
Engineering, specifically Mechanical Engineering.

What are your career aspirations?
After I finish my degree, I would like to travel around the world working in large engineering firms such as Shell and Hitachi, in order to gain experience and technical knowhow, before eventually settling down and starting my own firm in my hometown of Bangkok. I haven’t quite figured out what the firm would do yet, but the area of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy, is intriguing and has great prospects. 

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
I’ve always thought Tokyo would be a really cool place to work in, and many of the leading engineering firms are also based in Japan. 

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? Can you say what the best aspects have been?
Unforgettable! Being a Tonbridgian has taught me so many important life skills outside of the classroom, and the relationships I’ve built at the school will undoubtedly be carried with me for the rest of my life. 

Is there one particular highlight?
I would say the opportunity to be Deputy Head of School and work in the team of Praes has been a highlight for me. It was an honour and an experience which will have a lasting effect on the rest of my career and life. 

What has Tonbridge taught you?
Tonbridge has taught me to never be afraid to seek help and guidance from others when you face a challenge. You are seldom alone when you face a problem, and I feel that remembering this will take you a long way. 

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
Take advantage of all the opportunities this school has to offer, step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Never take anything for granted and, despite being at a top school like Tonbridge, always remember to remain grounded. 

 

Hector Day-Lunn 
Boarder, Manor House (Head of School, 2020-21)

"I’ve learnt a huge amount, both in and out of the classroom" 


A-levels 
English, RS, History.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
English is the obvious choice, as it is what I will be studying at university. However, I can honestly say that the complementary nature of my three subjects has made my Sixth Form academic life hugely enjoyable. It feels as if I have received a holistic education in the humanities, rather than merely a tripartite one that might be expected from studying three subjects.

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice? 
I am going to take a gap year with a view to reapplying to Cambridge. Quite simply, I see very few other universities in the world that provide such a fantastic, multi-faceted education in my subject, and so I have strong a desire to go there.

What will you be studying?
English Literature.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
Hopefully some sort of travelling, having finished my degree. It would definitely be nice to come back and visit Tonbridge too!

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? Can you say what the best aspects have been?
There’s very little I’d change about my time here. I’ve learnt a huge amount, both in and out of the classroom, and have made some memories that I will look back on with great affection – House Music, our house trip to the football, and the plays I have been in are definite highlights. 

Is there one particular highlight?
In Michaelmas this year there was an inter-house rugby tournament. The final day of fixtures fell on a Thursday evening under the cover of darkness and in torrential rain, and there was a palpable sense of drama amongst the thirty-or-so boys huddled together in the freezing cold. 

There was a moment during one of our matches when I realised that there were only very few occasions left where I would be able to play house sport with my fellow Manorians – we all just got stuck in and ended up winning our section of the tournament. I will look back on this moment with great fondness.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
To be thankful for what you’ve got, and to make the most of opportunities available to you.

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
Try it! Whatever it is, whether it be playing Rackets or going to a society in Pursuits, just go ahead and try it – it’s so easy to just tell yourself “next time” and then never actually do it.

 

Ben Gardner
Day boy, Cowdrey House

"The breadth of opportunities is what makes Tonbridge special"

A-levels 
Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Music.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
I enjoy Maths, and at Tonbridge, we’re fortunate to have an incredibly strong Maths Department, which doesn’t shy away from providing plenty of extension material for the upper sets. The breadth of the Music course has appealed to me, developing my creativity, critical thinking and essay writing skills.

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice? 
I’ve had an offer to read Maths at the University of Oxford. I am lucky enough to have been offered an organ scholarship at Balliol College, which will be a great opportunity to develop skills accompanying and directing the choir.

What are your career aspirations?
I’ve not decided which career I’d like to pursue, although I think it’s important to find a job which you enjoy and which gives you the chance to work with brilliant people.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
I’d like to be doing something fulfilling, where I can make a difference, whatever that may be. 

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? Can you say what the best aspects have been?
I’ve had an incredible time here and I’m very grateful to have been given the chance to be at Tonbridge. For me, the breadth of opportunities is what makes Tonbridge special, be that playing in Symphony Orchestra, attending Ruston, being part of the Rocketry Society or playing Fives.

Is there one particular highlight?
Returning to school after the lockdowns has definitely been a highlight for me. There’s something special about the buzz of school life, which just isn’t the same online.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
Tonbridge has a very strong sense of togetherness, which shows me the importance of community spirit. I’ve also learnt how to manage my time within a very busy schedule, through hard work and forward planning.

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
The first term of Novi can be fairly exhausting, but it’s important to try to make the most of the opportunities you’re given.

 

Sam Oteng-Ntim 
Boarder, School House

"You can all achieve the incredible"


A-Levels 
Further Mathematics, Mathematics, Physics, Design & Technology.

Which subjects have you enjoyed the most and why?
I particularly enjoyed the Further Maths course. Initially, the content was a difficult jump, with unfamiliar new areas such as complex numbers. However, I later began to appreciate learning this wider range of knowledge and liked developing a deeper understanding of each topic.

In retrospect, I’m thankful for Dr Wang’s lessons in the Lower Sixth, which showed me the fun in tackling the hardest questions. I also really enjoyed Physics, which becomes especially interesting when going beyond the syllabus.

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice?
I have an offer for Cambridge. Apart from the engineering course being excellent and world renowned, at Cambridge the intellectual diversity will be second to none. I’ll be surrounded by some of the greatest and most ambitious minds. I’ll embrace this opportunity and hope to be in a good position to fulfil some of my own ambitions following on from the course.

What will you be studying?
General Engineering.

What are your career aspirations?
I tend to focus on one thing at a time and avoid obsessing over the future. I trust that when the time comes, I’ll choose to do something that is meaningful for myself, something I’m passionate about and enjoy. That is what’s important to me.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
I wish to use the potential of engineering to provide society with solutions, not only in terms of infrastructure but how it can inform healthcare innovations and help to save lives, especially in developing countries.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? Can you say what the best aspects have been?
I really appreciate the amazing time I’ve had at Tonbridge. Taking advantage of the extra-curriculars here and pushing out of my comfort zone is when I enjoyed myself the most. Moments I particularly cherish are flying, during my time in the RAF, and performing in House Music. 

Is there one particular highlight?
Breaking the school 4x100m relay record. I appreciate the discipline and healthy competitiveness in the sprint team, it means we all motivate each other to push to our optimum, especially when training with the likes of Zac Nwogwugwu.

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
Get involved and do take advantage of the amazing opportunities here! It is important that you take your potential into your own hands. Being in a school with so many talented people means that you can easily feel like an imposter, but be ambitious and maintain your self-belief. You can all achieve the incredible. 

 

Jack Richardson
Day boy, Oakeshott House (Junior Foundation Scholar)

"Tonbridge has taught me to persevere in whatever I do" 

A-levels
Latin, Greek, Geography, German.

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
Latin and Greek – not only has the language side of the course helped me appreciate the English language and how I use it, but the literature I’ve studied allows me to explore the ancient world further. The Latin and Greek societies can be both very different and similar to our own modern society, and it’s fascinating to investigate them because of their huge impact on how we think today.

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice? 
I’m hoping to read Classics at Oxford. The city, the university, its learning environment (the college system) and the quality of teaching are all very appealing. Oxford also has a very good and challenging Classics course, which will allow me to study the two languages and their literature in more depth.

What are your career aspirations?
Classics has so many applications, but a career in law, teaching or academia are all possibilities. I would also like to use my German in later life, so being a translator or working in Germany also sounds interesting.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
A Master’s degree in a more specialised area in Classics would interest me greatly, but I would also like to travel a bit, since I won’t be having a gap year.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? Can you say what the best aspects have been?
My time at Tonbridge has been an incredible experience. There is such a wide breadth of opportunities which Tonbridge offers and taking advantage of them has created so many great memories. The staff at Tonbridge are also amazing and offer so much support, whilst Tonbridge’s facilities are also a great part of the school, since they facilitate the learning and extra-curriculars at the school.

Is there one particular highlight?
There have been two stand out highlights. First, the school trip to Rome in Lower Sixth – the city has a fascinating amount of history to explore, and the food was also great! The second is competing in the National Qualifiers for the England fencing squad – although I didn’t do very well there, the experience was amazing.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
Tonbridge has taught me to persevere in whatever I do, because the effort will always be worth it, and also to develop my intellectual curiosity. 

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
Take advantage of all the opportunities you may get, even if they’re different or seem uncomfortable, since you may never get such opportunities again. And don’t panic – sometimes life at Tonbridge can be quite hectic, and so slowing down can be beneficial.

Anything else you’d like to add …?
Just enjoy everything that Tonbridge can offer you!

 

Damjan Lalovic 
Boarder, Parkside

"I hope one day I’ll manage my own company"

A-levels 
Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Further Mathematics 

Which subject(s) have you enjoyed most, and why?
Definitely Chemistry. The course is challenging but interesting, and the teachers really did their best to make it approachable and easy to understand. Doing practicals was also one of the highlights, as these would often help us understand concepts which in theory could be very difficult to grasp.

What university do you hope to go to – and why is this your choice?
I’ve a place at King’s College London. Coming from a small town, life in the big city filled with people from many different backgrounds sounds very appealing to me, which is why I love the idea of studying in London. The course, Biochemistry, is really what sealed the deal for me. 

What are your career aspirations?
I hope one day I’ll manage my own company/lab and get involved in healthcare, as there are many issues that the sector is currently facing. I might go into politics as well!

What would you like to be doing five years from now?
After I finish my PhD, I would love to work at DeepMind, a company which specialises in simulating 3D structures of proteins. Integrating IT and robotics into biochemistry is a big movement now.

What has your time at Tonbridge been like? Can you say what the best aspects have been?
It has been an amazing experience. I met many friends and even, perhaps, future business partners. I got to learn from some of the best teachers in the country and do sports I have never done before, such as fencing. It was a bit challenging at times due to the pandemic, but Tonbridge has found a way to maintain a high standard of learning and keep us in touch with each other through virtual gatherings and events. 

The best aspect of Tonbridge is that you get to have a busy but very fulfilling day and you get to do all of it with your friends. Besides that, Tonbridge has the best library I have ever seen.

Is there one particular highlight?
For my Wednesday Activity I am part of Tonbridge Community Action, and so I go to a local school and help the teachers there. Those kids never fail to make me laugh and I’ll always remember some of the things they said. Another highlight is learning British slang. The phrase ‘Bob’s your Uncle’ hasn’t left my daily vocabulary since.

What has Tonbridge taught you?
To be a part of Tonbridge I had to learn how to be organised. I learned to plan my day and to fit in everything I needed to do.

What advice would you give to a boy starting at Tonbridge this year?
Try to say yes to things more often than not. If your teachers ask you to be a part of something, just say yes! It will probably be a very useful experience for you. Things like school plays, Community Action activities and clubs helped me to meet a lot of people and gain plenty of skills.