There are many occasions throughout the life of a student that mark significant milestones in their journey that can feel quite overwhelming when they arrive. The past few weeks have signalled just that for our senior students: our Year 11s finally shuttled their way to the snow after years of COVID cancelled trips, which forced them to persevere under some trying weather conditions to master their triumph over the slopes. Similarly, in this past fortnight, Year 12 students have embarked on their Trial HSC exams, which are their final school-based assessment tasks to secure their rank and nominated result before handing over the moment to the external exams.
It feels surreal that we have reached this time of the year again so quickly, as though it was only a few short months ago that we were in the throes of consistently remapping the exam strategy for our 2021 HSC students. I remember this time vividly as it lived large in my household; having two boys of my own in Year 12 who were impacted by the rolling suite of government decision-making on the run, ongoing limitations placed on the College in the flexibility of delivering Trial exams and whip-lash from the indecision around the nature of the final HSC exam timetable, this was a truly an exhausting time, mentally and emotionally. I felt like I understood it on all fronts: as a concerned parent, a weary decisionmaker and through the lens of stressed Year 12 students whose futures seemed to be out of their control or influence.
So relentless was that time that it seems almost unimaginable that we have arrived back at this season with our current 2022 cohort, who now have their own challenges to face. No longer is it an exam room where the tissues are passed liberally from desk to desk to triage the ubiquitous winter cold, or declarations signed to state they have not been in contact with any COVID positive case in the past month. Now, the stifled sniffles timidly accept tissues with apologetic looks of reassurance that they’re not really “sick” and the occasional empty desk signifies a positive case amongst their peers.
Meeting with our Alumni at our inaugural reunion this past week has been a reminder that this exam season is just one small part of God’s much grander plan for our students’ worlds. Whilst they had all experienced the stress and challenge of exams that felt so significant at the time, and could recall their emotions vividly, hearing stories of their adult adventures and achievements since Graduation reinforced the truth that the exam season is but one leap along the meandering pathway to adulthood. The fact that we are now one year hence Online Learning reinforces that the seasons of hard will pass: we adapt, upskill and pivot.
Ecclesiastes 3 confirms that there is the season for everything under the sun. “He has made everything beautiful in it’s time” (3:11) It’s an important reminder to us all that when the season feels overwhelming and relentless, there is no need for us to feed into our children’s stress and anxiety but put our faith and trust in Jesus that this season will pass. We know that He doesn’t put before us anything that we cannot bear and so, too, for our children - this will pass. We are assured there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh” (3:4). May there always be time for more laughter!
Linda Hogan Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning