Stepping Up for Year 12

Zoe Eyles reports on the Year 12 Step Up Program.

With Year 12 finally upon us, the school year started differently than most. For the Step Up Program, we stepped out of the classroom and headed to the Elwood Sailing Club on the foreshore. 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 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, 2017 graduates Liza Clerehan, Jayde Elvey and Oliver Woods returned to candidly share their experiences of Year 12. We found their information really interesting and valuable as they spoke with frankness and first-hand 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 we 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 our last few years.

Later, we split into groups and did beach exercise with Ms Griffin and goal setting with Ms Hutton. We also learnt about the importance of support circles with Mrs McDonald. We then had fun brainstorming ideas for House and Year 12 events for the year.

Presenters from the research group Elevate also came to the school to give us tips on how to study effectively and manage our time. Elevate asks the top-performing VCE students from across the state how they achieved their scores, and then teaches students like us how to do the same. The presenters were 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 how we should study in order to get the best marks, a question I know many of us have had at the forefront of our minds. There was also guidance on how best to manage our study schedules while maintaining a healthy and social life.

We learned a lot in the Step Up Program and left with an arsenal of tips and a plan of attack for the year.  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 this program got us off to a running start.