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Bishop Mark recently recorded a message for Year 12 school students, encouraging them with a reminder of the unchanging truth that education is far more about the people we are becoming than the facts that we remember, which is why times of challenge can sometimes be our greatest teachers.

‘I’m well aware that 2020 has been a challenging year for Year 12 students in particular. You’ve experienced changed learning environments and faced uncertainty about assessments and end-of-year celebrations. Along with all this there’s been the background noise of a world that seemed to turn upside-down.

That’s why I am so grateful to hear from your schools and your parishes how you have faced these challenges with courage and with creativity. You’ve leaned into your support networks, you’ve stood by your friends and you’ve reached out for help when you’ve needed it. You’ve learned the importance of caring for the environment and caring for the vulnerable.

I want you to know that I admire you and that I am praying for you.

James 1:5 says that if we ever need wisdom we should ask God who gives to all generously without finding fault and that wisdom will be given to us.

In this season may you know the wisdom of God; the God who has entered into our world in the Lord Jesus Christ and the God who loves us not because of what we do but because of who he is.’

Watch the video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzhBk82HQ1s

We spoke to two Year 12 students to find out more about their experience.


HANNAH SIMON – RADFORD COLLEGE

Hannah has been a blessing leading the singing in the church livestream at Curtin.

Did you do school from home for long? What did that involve?

I did school from home for about five weeks, with a two-week holiday break in the middle. My online schooling was structured much the same as regular school days. We were required to follow our regular timetable and join the online chat (via Microsoft Teams) at the start of each class in order to receive instructions from our teacher and ask any questions. As senior students our attendance is monitored closely in a regular school environment, therefore in order to ensure records were correct, students were required to both:

  • Join the online chat, and say ‘hello’ or send a message indicating presence; and also
  • Show evidence of completed class work through email or loading into our other online platforms.

Did you find that difficult/ frustrating/annoying?

Personally, I greatly enjoyed working from home and being able to structure my time according to priorities. There were little distractions for me, so I managed to complete work quicker than usual, leaving more time for finishing other work and assessments, as well as taking time to exercise and be outside.

How has this year affected your assessment? Will it make a difference to university or other entrance procedures?

I completed a number of assessments while learning from home. These were modified to allow access to internet and external resources, as this is something that is difficult to monitor from home. Students were sent the task at a given time and were required to send back the completed task strictly within the time frame. Personally, online learning and the impact of COVID-19 have not significantly changed my tertiary study options. I have completed my ACT Scaling Test, which was held as normal on September 1st and 2nd, and have received two early offers to University.

Have a lot of other school activities been cancelled?

Yes! Our cohort has missed many of the standard year 12 events throughout the year, including many guest speakers, service trips and our swimming carnival. More recently, we have been able to engage in virtual presentations and were able to livestream our Year 12 Production. Our end-of-year formal and graduation have been altered to reflect COVID guidelines and will be held at the school with only students and limited teachers in attendance.

Did you have any extra-curricular activities planned this year that have been cancelled/postponed? Has that affected your future in those activities also?

My dance school was closed for an extended period of time, and as a teacher I was required to facilitate online classes and videos. Our end-of-year concert has been redesigned into a pre-recorded movie of dances and many modifications have been made to the operation of the school.

What about activities connected to church/your faith? Were many things cancelled for you? Was that difficult for you?

The annual CMS MMM camp was cancelled, which is usually a highlight of my year. Our church was lucky enough to livestream our services when people were not able to meet, and I was still able to connect with camp members through social media.

Do you think being a Christian has helped you respond to and/ or make sense of this year?

It has definitely been difficult not seeing the church seats fill up and not seeing how big the church has grown through the pandemic, and it definitely has! But I think that being able to still be connected to others through online church and virtual morning tea has helped to somewhat normalise the circumstances. Especially while learning from home, I felt a relief from stress, which allowed for more time to engage with my faith. Having the livestream, I have been able to re-watch the services later in the week which has been helpful as well.

Are there ways you think this year will negatively affect the future you had planned for the long-term?

I think there are many aspects of life that will be different in the long-term such as a greater awareness for social distancing and hand hygiene even when the pandemic is no longer a global issue. I know many year 12 students this year, including myself, were hoping to take a gap year to travel or work but as a result of the pandemic these have been challenged and more people are choosing to start tertiary studies next year in the hope of taking a ‘gap year’ of some sort in the future.


GWYLLYM YOUNG – ALFRED DEAKIN HIGH SCHOOL

Gwyllym has been working hard helping to produce the service livestream at Curtin.

In what ways has Year 12 been different to what you expected or hoped as a result of the pandemic?

We had no major testing at the end of term 1, and about half of term 2 was done from home. However, we had no big tests in that semester either, which messed up my results a bit. Instead we had a variety of assessment, which particularly messed me up for Chemistry.

Did you do school from home for long? What did that involve?

We missed seven weeks of school, two at the end of term 1 and the first five from term 2. During term 2 we had a shortened timetable and took classes on video and did assessment all online.

Did you find that difficult/ frustrating/annoying?

Yeah, I did. The software for some classes was a mess to use, especially for assessment. And the department did not do enough to help our teachers adjust.

How has this year affected your assessment? Will it make a difference to university or other entrance procedures?

The ANU changed their offer system so that we’d receive full offers based on year 11 results, rather than conditional offers. So that got me into the course I wanted.

Did you have any extra-curricular activities planned this year that have been cancelled/postponed? Has that affected your future in those activities also?

I had two International Championships for my racewalking cancelled, namely the Racewalking World Cup and World U20 Athletics Championships. Luckily the U20 Champs have been scheduled for next year, and I’ll still be the correct age group to compete. But it has changed the nature of my training over this year.

Gwyllym Young racewalking. Photo from Athletics Australia, used with permission.

What about activities connected to church/your faith? Were many things cancelled for you? Was that difficult for you?

I had Boys Brigade Queensland Leadership cancelled, which is disappointing as it’s certainly a worthwhile course. However I got to help out with livestreaming my church services which has been fun.

Do you think being a Christian has helped you respond to and/ or make sense of this year?

It has certainly helped me move forward with the year. It has especially helped me work through some of the mental hang ups that got amplified by the stress of lock down.

Are there ways you think this year will negatively affect the future you had planned for the long-term?

It will certainly change how my walking ends up, as it now appears I will have a major international championship to attend every year at least until 2024, rather than getting next year off to build up. This will affect my studies, but I don’t know to exactly what degree that will be.