Do you remember your last school year?
For most Australians, Year 12 is their final year of high school, the year almost everything seems to change. Most 12th graders celebrate their 18th birthday and discover how much they regret celebrating on a school night. Driving licenses are obtained, application documents are sent out, gap years are planned and jobs are considered; Every experience is individual, all involve countless changes.
For the Class of 2022, these 12th graders faced unprecedented challenges during their high school years and had to adapt to online learning as COVID-19 disrupted face-to-face learning.
Over the past year, the number of students graduating from 12th grade across the country has fallen to its lowest level in years, falling to 1.79 million in 2021 from 1.9 million in 2020; Victoria has seen the sharpest drop overall as 56,100 fewer Year 12 students will complete their final year in 2021 than the year before. The last time year-12 completions fell below 1.8 million was in 2017.
While the dates for 2022 grade 12 graduations are not yet complete, the focus is on the thousands of local 12th graders who are nearing the end of their high school careers.
Catholic College Sale’s Year 12 students bravely overcame the odds of online learning and returned to full-time classroom instruction for the final year of school.
While the return to face-to-face teaching was a fresh and widely welcomed shift for Sale Catholic college students Charli O’Loughlin, Ella McCubbin, Ryan Beale, Gaby Stephenson and Harry Gravener, who were making their way back to a pre-COVID routine presented an unexpected challenge.
“I found it quite difficult to adjust to the workload,” Charli said.
“Because it was slightly adjusted because of COVID, it took about the first two months to get used to [face-to-face learning]like to get back into the rhythm of it.”
Charli, Ella, Ryan, Gaby and Harry all agreed that going back to a ‘normal’ school life, which is by far the most challenging in 12th grade, especially for those doing VCE, was the most challenging aspect of their senior year . However, with no goal other than to overcome the adversity they have faced over the past two years, the Catholic College students have quickly focused on the positive. Friendships new and old, teachers praising them, and the myriad services offered at the School of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion and the Marist Brothers.
“Continue learning on a regular basis to find the motivation to learn [after COVID] was the hardest part,” Harry said.
“But I love coming to school because you have all your buddies and I feel like you’re even closer to your 12th grade buddies when you’re here, as a cohort we’re all closer together , so it’s more inviting to come to school.”
Gaby also thinks the Catholic college sales class of 2022 has grown closer together as a result of the struggles they’ve been through together during the pandemic.
“Getting out of COVID, getting into a routine and a good study habit and learning how to do that for a whole year because our introduction to VCE was very disruptive in years 10 and 11 was definitely the hardest part,” he said Gaby.
“I know it’s probably a cliché but studying is tough but like Harry said when you have your buddies around it makes it easier and we’ve definitely gotten closer as a year, that’s for sure.
“Also, we have great facilities here, learning centers, so we use them, and our teachers are so dedicated. The way they do everything for their students really helps.”
On the subject of Catholic College Sale teachers, Ken Holmes, Director of Senior Studies, and Andrea Sim, came up repeatedly in conversations with this year’s 12th graders.
“I had Holmesy for PE this year and last year,” Harry said.
“He’s really good. He makes it very interesting, so does Ms. Sim; They are probably my favorite teachers.”
Gaby says it’s no coincidence that Mr. Holmes and Ms. Sim’s classes are their favorite and best-performing because of the effort, dedication and support they bring to their students.
Mr. Holmes began teaching at Sale Catholic College in 1986, introducing physical education as a subject in the 12th grade. After beginning his teaching career at Catholic College Sale, Mr. Holmes moved away for 10 years before returning to the local school where he has taught Physical Education and Psychology for many years.
While Charli Scott has credited Fitzgerald as one of her most influential teachers, not just in 12th grade but throughout her school years, and Ella Ann Roth, the pair share an affection for teachers Jane Robins and Julia Morton.
“There are so many great teachers,” said Ella and Charli.
Catholic College Sale Associate Principal Cindy Foat and Mr. Holmes have commended the Year 12 class of 2022 for their resilience and ability to weather the odds of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve had disconnected years the last two years, this year we’ve been all year, and personally I think it really brought this group of Year 12 students together,” Ms Foat said.
“They were there together; They really understood what it was like not to be together. We have a 12th grade study room which we call the Ratisbonne Center and we haven’t seen it used so much since we broke up.
“Every day this space continued to be used; We are in our third week of exams and will still have large groups of students and teachers up there and the students are still very attentive to what others have to say.”
“What I would say about this year’s 12-year-olds is that they really appreciate and support each other. The level of care and respect they have for each other and the staff is great.”
In his senior year at Catholic College Sale, Mr. Holmes welcomed the return of an uninterrupted school year and all the prospects that came with it without limitations.
“The best part of the year was the fact that we were all back together,” Mr Holmes said.
“We had gatherings again, we had crowds again, we got to use the facilities again, these brand new facilities that the kids haven’t been able to fully use for the last two years.
“For me, that was the best part of the year, just having the kids here all day, every day, with no breaks.”
One of the highlights of Mr. Holmes’ final year was the Performing Arts Day at the Catholic College Sale.
“Every year we have a performing arts day that we haven’t had for a couple of years and you just had to be there,” Mr Holmes said.
“It was just the most amazing thing, certainly during my time here, to watch these kids, how they react to the performers and how they help each other; it was sensational.
“Performing Arts Day really encapsulated 12th grade for me, and it encapsulated this place; it was just awesome.”
As the Catholic College Sale bids farewell to the 12th class of 2022, leaving Mr. Holmes, Charli, Ella, Ryan, Harry and Gaby a farewell for the 12th class of 2023.
“Start taking notes early and try not to worry so much about your ATAR because there are so many other ways,” Charli said.
“Don’t put things off until the last minute; Start over, even if it looks like you won’t need it for the exams, you will need it for the exams and keep your notes,” Ella said.
“Don’t worry too much; Find your study habit early and stick with it,” Ryan said.
“Start studying early, but don’t get too stressed if things don’t quite go your way at first,” Harry said.
“Have fun; It’s probably the last year before a lot of stress so make the most of your time and branch out, meet new people, talk to people you wouldn’t normally, build friendships you never would have thought of “That you would have her, it can be really, really good in your senior year knowing you came out of it with a lot more friends than you went in,” Gabby said.
Click here for the 2022 vintage.