The Year 12s have just started their mock exams and at the end of this term will have Grad’s Day and their Graduation Dinner. The end of this part of their education journey is close at hand. Suddenly the weight of external exams weighs heavily on the students who have chosen that pathway and the reality of the world beyond school is more focused than before. Some students are planning what they will do for leavers (“Stay safe and responsible” is our hope!); some are planning for their Service Tour to India and others are planning time with parents and friends on short fishing trips! Within weeks, the Year 12s will be back here for the final Awards night.
At a time like this, it is easy to make decisions informed more by impulse and excitement than good sense. All of our students are fine young people. As parents reflect back to the end of their schooling, you may have shared stories of the antics of your Year 12 group with your children. You may have deliberately not shared stories in case your child mistakes that sharing for permission!
In the run up to graduation, I expect every Year 12 student to treat the School and the School community with respect. In the decade that I have headed the Secondary School at Duncraig I have had the privilege of being able to proud of the conduct of our Year 12s. Years ago I was placed with the unfortunate position of having to report vandalism to the police, barring some students from Grads Day and having others write their exams at another venue. I expect our Year 12s to look after each other and to have the strength of character to re-direct any foolish and impulsive decisions that might be made by a friend. This is true at School over the next months and this is equally important at Leavers. You have come this far and no tragedy should change your future. Be safe, be careful and make good judgements as you celebrate. Our students come from fine families who have chosen St Stephen’s because of their shared values. Our students understand that they are the holders of the reputations of their families and of the School. Each of our Year 12s deserves more than to be let down now.
As our ATAR bound students prepare for exams, I would encourage each student to maintain their energy. The people around us are powerful in shaping our mood and our enthusiasm. This is the time to work hard, to work cleverly and, when appropriate, to work with other people. Study with a friend, work through old papers, answer a question and then swap and get another opinion on whether what you have written is good enough. To use a metaphor, you are on the final straight: your legs will ache as you keep pushing forward and keep your speed up. The time to sit back will be after you cross that finish line marked by that last exam. Eat well, sleep well. Apply the advice so many people have given you. The best you can do now is to give all you possibly can.
To the class of 2017 – you are entering an adult world and you now carry adult expectations. You have youth and energy to forge forward in a world that needs each of you. I hope that the exams treat you well and that you have the opportunity to show all that you have learned with confidence and joy. On behalf of all those who have taught you, I wish you every joy and success.