Recently, our Year 12 Captains were asked by local paper 'The Northern Star Weekly' to reflect on their experiences studying VCE during a global pandemic.
If there is one thing that this year’s lockdowns have taught us, then it is the fact that perfection is truly an illusion. At the start of this marathon, some called Year 12, like any other student, I held my belief in the illusion of perfection, assuming that this one year would be the most perfect school year. Perfect SACS, abundant motivation, the ultimate peak of my high school journey. Boy was I wrong! This year has not been like the ideal Year 12 I had in mind; in fact, it is far from it, but I guess it has shaken us up as humans and taught us that plans do not always work, and life, unlike modern humans, is not controlled by stringent timetables and calendars we impose on. Life in its natural state is unpredictable and uncontrollable and I guess that is what completing VCE in the middle of a global pandemic has taught me. Some days motivation does not come naturally and other days nothing seems more ideal than sitting in our warm rooms, sipping a cup of hot chocolate as we attend our VCE classes in our ‘oodies’. Year 12 this year has been crazy, but I guess we adapted to and normalised this abnormal way of life. I am sure in the end all our hard work and efforts will pay off.
Last year was tough, but since I was in Year 11, I wasn’t too concerned. Fast forward to Year 12, with Term 3 complete and the school holidays upon us - packed full of trial exams and last-minute revision lessons. The GAT in 4 weeks, and then my first exam 3 weeks later, all while getting VTAC applications sorted and deciding what to do with my future. So yes, studying VCE during a global pandemic has been a little stressful! The worst part is feeling unsure whether we will be coming back to school in a day or whether we will spend another week online. When it was announced that a few select subjects and students would return on-site, I was extremely excited. Then, a mere 2 days before my first on-site class, restrictions were extended again, and those classes were cancelled. When the State is going in and out of lockdowns, it can be difficult to stick to a consistent schedule, but the trick is to stay motivated. That could simply mean waking up, putting on clothes (other than pyjamas) and logging on to join a meeting. We also need to keep a positive mind and look on the bright side of life. For instance, you can sleep in a little longer, the food at home is amazing, you can have showers during Recess or go for bike rides at Lunchtime!
COVID-19 has been a massive hurdle for our cohort. Since the beginning of our VCE years in 2020, the 2021 graduate class has been trialled by the meandering nature of lockdown rules and being on and off school grounds; a crisis within a crisis.
Maintaining a bounded optimism in the face of stress of online learning has been difficult. Amongst the many challenges faced, the many feats of perseverance and ongoing battle of class-call connection issues, many of us have found solidarity within ourselves, whether it be spending more time with family, pets or engaging in your favourite hobbies. For me, the time spent in lockdown has allowed me to reconnect with myself, my interests and my goals as well as regain touch outside of social settings. The lockdown period has also allowed me to spend more meaningful, quality time with my family, a commodity that would have not been possible otherwise.
This critical period has also acted as a lesson of appreciation, ultimately refining, and deepening my gratefulness for the many things I took for granted prior to lockdown. The social opportunities, the presence of certain people in my life, friends, family, supportive and caring teachers and the daily opportunities for growth that are provided.
Like many people, when I first heard about the COVID-19 virus, I thought it would be over and forgotten about within a matter of weeks. Now, nearly two years on, we are in our sixth lockdown. Year 12 is meant to be the most memorable and fun year of our entire high school journey. Getting drivers licenses, going to parties, and of course spending hours studying for our final exams. Instead, we have spent most of the last 24 months in our rooms or at our desks, staring at a screen for six hours a day, five days a week. Completing VCE online has presented its challenges and has been a tough journey. No socialising with friends and less one-on-one teacher time. The uncertainty of when a lockdown may strike caused cohort-wide anxiety, as well as not knowing when these ‘7-day lockdowns’ will end, or if we’ll even have a Graduation Ceremony. Year 12 students have certainly had one of the toughest, if not the toughest, final years of school to date. Our final exams will signify much more than just the end of high school for me. They also signify the end of an extremely anxious, stressful, and uncertain two years of schooling, that I will never forget.