A rocky road ahead for our Year 12 students

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Year 12 is usually a time of celebration for our children. It is a hallmark of one’s high school years and also marks childhood coming to an end. With these celebrations also come a lot of tests and trials for our Year 12 students who not only have to face their final year exams but make some of their first decisions as adults on how they will start the next stage of their life.

However, going through this challenging phase definitely becomes a rockier road for Year 12 students when a global pandemic is thrown in the works. A lot of our kids are also very aware that everyone has been hit hard in many ways by COVID-19 and may keep their worries to themselves so as to not burden anyone further.

It is important to acknowledge that the usual concerns that the average kid in Year 12 has are still completely valid, especially during these times as they have to make serious decisions about their life in a very unprecedented world. To help understand these heightened anxieties, we have highlighted some common concerns that Year 12 students may have this year.

Final year exams

Many Year 12 students are wondering what is happening with final year exams?

Given the huge amount of disruptions that the school year has already faced, it is an understandable question to have. We have seen schools get shut down after one student tests positive, so what if this happens in the middle of the exam period? If a student wakes up on the morning of an exam with an itchy throat, what are the new protocols when you have to miss an exam? There are also concerns about how these final exams will be marked and affect a student’s final results, will there be an extra level of consideration?

In Victoria, there has even been a growing petition to cancel VCE exams due to the challenges Year 12 students have experienced in completing their final year during this pandemic. This has prompted the Victorian Government to make fast changes on how a student’s final results will be determined, which will now focus on individual assessment and special consideration.

End of year ceremonies and events

There is a common feeling among students of being underwhelmed and deflated with end of year celebrations being cancelled due to social distancing issues.

Graduation ceremonies, formals and the like are sentimental events for Year 12 students as they provide a sense of reward for finally getting through that last hurdle of high school. It makes it extra difficult for Year 12 students to get through this final stretch when they don’t have these celebrations to look forward to at the end of the finish line.

For example, students even within Queensland will not be able to continue with Schoolies celebrations due to high risk of COVID transmission. However, school captains across NSW have successfully campaigned to allow COVID-safe formals and graduation ceremonies, making a strong point that if people can gather in pubs and stadiums then a socially-distanced event to celebrate these key milestones should also be allowed.

Life after high school

A huge cloud of uncertainty comes over a lot of Year 12 students when they think about what life is going to be like after high school.

While it is natural to not know what you want to do after high school, short term plans such as taking a gap year are off the cards and finding a job looks a lot harder now that Australia’s unemployment rate is at an all time high. There is a sense of hopelessness for our kids as they transition into a world that seems quite grim and many of the opportunities they thought they would have are not available for the foreseeable future.

Many year 12 students have expressed frustration about their delayed independence because of the many restrictions that prevent a lot of the plans they had after finishing high school.

To get further insight on the common concerns of Year 12 students, the Age has released a podcast ‘What does the future look like for the class of 2020?’ . It also discusses the lessons our children can take from this experience and how to help them cope with the fears and anxieties they have for the future ahead.

All of Year 12 deserve recognition for the perseverance they have shown in getting through their final year during these tough circumstances. While this year has written off a lot of ritual activities when turning 18 and finishing high school, it is a unique coming of age that past and future generations will never experience.

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