Zoe Eyles reports on the Year 12 Step Up Program.
After our longest school holidays yet and with Year 12 finally upon us, I think it’s safe to say that coming back to school this year felt especially cruel for our year level. Luckily for us, our school year instead started at the Elwood Sailing Club on the foreshore, where we took part in a two-day Year 12 ‘Step-Up’ program. During these two days we were given advice on how to tackle our studies, ways to deal with the stress we’re all looking forward to and the benefits of maintaining a healthy study/life balance.
On the first day, Ms Bentley spoke to us about pathways after VCE and the vast range of options out there. She highlighted the availability of many specialised and/or unique courses that we might otherwise overlook. Who would have known there were more options than general Arts, Science and Law degrees? Talking about our goals beyond Year 12 made our real-world dreams feel that much closer. Following this, three of the 2017 Year 12s, Liza Clerehan, Jayde Elvey and Oliver Woods returned to candidly share with us their experiences of their final year. We found their information really interesting and valuable as they spoke with frankness and firsthand knowledge. After a break, Mr Kinch took us through a presentation on stress management, meditation and some of the mentalities to avoid in Year 12. Many of us have talked since about how we’re getting to sleep much quicker after employing one of the mindfulness tricks he taught us. That day we also wrote letters intended for ourselves after finishing Year 12. We silently and earnestly scribbled away at our paper, the task being a very personal one requiring more thought than initially expected.
The next day, we continued the Elwood College Year 12 tradition of creating ‘memories bunting’. This involved writing down our favourite memories from throughout our years at Elwood on triangular pieces of paper to create a garland we will hang up. Making these with friends allowed us to dig up experiences we had forgotten all about. Unlike our letter-writing activity, this one was not at all silent – we had a good laugh remembering bits and pieces of our last few years. Later, we split into three groups and did beach exercise with Ms Griffin, goal setting with Ms Hutton and were taught about the importance of support circles with Mrs McDonald. Next, we sat in our house groups and brainstormed ideas for house and Year 12 events for the year. There were calls for cooking competitions, ‘Damper Day’, ‘Bring Your Dog to School Day’, and more, some completely outrageous, some more tame that the teachers nodded their heads in approval at. After lunch, Ms Griffin gave us her final tips for the year in a speech that left us all blushing. We learned a lot over the course of these two days and left with an arsenal of tips and a plan of attack for this year.
As part of the program, we also had presenters from the research group Elevate come to the school to give us tips on how to study effectively and manage our time. Elevate is an organisation that asks the top-performing VCE students from across the state how they achieved their scores each year, and then teaches students like us how to do the same. The presenters from Elevate are recent high school graduates themselves, meaning they also brought personal knowledge and firsthand advice. From these two sessions and the booklets we left with we received explicit, targeted information on howwe should study in order to get the best marks, a question I know many of us have had at the forefront of our minds, and how best to manage our study schedules as well as maintain a healthy and social life.
Now it’s up to us to tackle this so-called ‘big year’, as only we can determine how much we achieve. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that this program got us off to a running start.