Arriving at the end of 13 years of school calls for a lot of retrospection. Most of us have only spent about 5 years of our lives not attending school, and of course, we don’t even remember most of our days of drawing pictures of people that look like happy potatoes and adults letting us think we were master hiders in hide-and-seek. School has been a constant since what feels like forever.
I’ve been thinking back to the beginnings of our high school days, when secondary school was a massive, confusing, exciting and slightly frightening undertaking. Those were the days of worrying about finishing our ‘How to make me’ recipe CATs, unironically adoring Macklemore, playing Minecraft on our sweet new Acer netbooks and the peak popularity of the asthma-inducing Hello Kitty bubblegum spray. The older year levels seemed… just so old, and tall, and scary. You see, back in our day, Year 7s feared Year 12s. Nowadays, these kids have no respect for their elders, and maybe the fact that they outnumber us 3 to 1 has something to do with it.
Let’s return to the year 2013 for a little bit – I know what you’re thinking, in any other circumstance, I’d rather not either.
Many of us are obsessed with the ‘big kid’ smartphones e’ve recently acquired. Flappy Bird is a raging success, and those who still have it downloaded on their phones are the lucky ones amongst us. Primadonna Girl is an absolute banger. Stealing someone’s lock from their locker is the ultimate flirting and/or tosser move. Not buckling up your T-bar shoes is, apparently, cool. Gene Millar makes his class listen to Skrillex for a specially-requested sort of ‘show and tell’ in Music class. Our Instagram usernames are almost too embarrassing to mention in 2018. Galaxy-printed leggings are the height of fashion.
It has often been said that by the end of high school, a year level becomes much closer. I’ve found this to be true. In Year 7 I think I speak for the majority of us when I say that there were students in our year level whose names we didn’t even know, and many we had never spoken to. As a general rule, we tended to stick to our chosen friendship groups. But this year, there’s a beautiful camaraderie amongst us that seems so much stronger than it has in the past; we’ve been brought together by our experiences and perhaps the many stresses of our Year 12 lives. But if I may risk inflating our egos by flattering us a little, I think this year’s Year 12s are a bunch of great people. We’ve come so far over the last six years and have developed into kind, intelligent, fun-loving and engaged individuals. You should all be very proud of who you are both as individuals and as a collective. Dubbed the ‘golden year level’, it is common knowledge that we have long been the teachers’ favourites. We will be missed, and we know it.
Over our time at Elwood, we’ve accumulated a lot of priceless memories, from the hilarious to the outright bizarre.
When something strange happens, often you’ll hear someone say, ‘at least you got a story out of it’. This applies to our entire Elwood College experience in the best possible way.
Our teachers have made up an irreplaceable part of these experiences, both in terms of being great educators and subjects of humour.
All that aside, we have a lot to thank our teachers for. They have spent so much of their time marking our work, replying to our panicked emails sent late on a Sunday night, preparing lessons, and suffering through our dreadful creative writing pieces. More than just being good teachers, so many of them go above and beyond the call of duty. I’m talking about the teachers who check in with us when something seems off, who ensure that the entire class understands a concept before moving on, who care about us as people first and students second. We really, really appreciate all of you, and we’re so thankful for what you have done for us, which hopefully makes the fact that you’re not paid enough for the time and effort you put into your profession sting just a little less.
Of course, we must also recognise the supportive parents, guardians and families who have gotten us to this point. Thanks for being our test audience for speeches, reading out cue card prompts and proofreading our essays, but most importantly, thanks for just being there for us.
In and outside VCE there is a strong emphasis on academia. Success and failure supposedly correspond with high and low ATARs respectively. Regardless of ATARs, life goes on.
The truth is that no matter how our exams go, no matter what scores we receive in a couple of months’ time, the most important thing will always be to be our best selves.
This means embodying our values, chasing our dreams and doing what makes us happy.
Let’s always take pride in who we are, and be true to ourselves rather than trying to please others.
Let’s each be someone our younger selves would have loved to grow up to be.
Thank you everyone, it’s truly been a pleasure.
I sat down to write this poem
Thinking that I was quite smart
That the ideas they’d come a flowin’
But damn it was hard to start
So I turned to the people around me
Like so many times before
I said let your memories surround me
They did, so here I am, therefore
Do you remember your very first day
Fresh clothes, new books and no pimples
A tremendous desire to go run and play
Coz back then things were more simple
There was a thrill in having new lockers
And our own line in the canteen
There were kids playing footy and soccer
And the boys playing Dota on steam
The Years 12s back then I had feared
Because I had to look up to see
At their tired eyes and their beards
But now time has caught up to me
I remember the art block
Smashed windows let in the breeze
Going through mountains of card stock
Despite Mr Carlin’s unease
I don’t think I’ll forget the terrible smell
Of the canal on a hot summer’s day
And I don’t think Lauren will forget when she fell
Into that brown waterway
Do you remember the donuts
That Orlando would get from the bin
I knew it was bad for my own guts
Nevertheless I tucked in
These friendships we formed are unbreakable
Undying in their perseverance
A cohort so very capable
Of acceptance and coherence
You’ll forget about lessons and speeches
Who cares about essays, protractors
But I know you’ll remember your teachers
Like Burto, or Rhonda or Maccas
I’ll remember the art teacher banter
The puzzling convos that we had
And I doubt I’ll forget alexander
Because that is nothing to sneeze at
If you are plagued by trouble or strife
If you are feeling quite tender
Wherever you are in your life
Take a moment, sit back and remember
Remember the times that were great
Remember the times that were rotten
Remember the love and the hate
These things should not be forgotten
These memories, they teach us lessons
The teachings of life and control
Our recollections are a blessing
Not of the mind, but the soul
I’m not crying my eyes are just sweaty
Knowing my fate is not set
For my future I know I’ll be ready
Because I will never forget