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Memories, Challenges, Opportunities Post School – Jennifer Oaten

Year 12s at last assembly 2023

As young students, we spend our entire school lives desperate to break free from school. However, as graduation approaches, mixed emotions are felt by each student. The excitement of entering the next phase of their life is mixed with the realisation that their school days are coming to an end. But little do we realise that life at school isn’t as bad as we sometimes make out when we are there.

Graduation marks the beginning of a new journey, but it also means saying goodbye to the familiar Mercy corridors, the comforting six-period day, and the community to which they belong. While many may feel some sadness at leaving, others who have faced challenges at school will be more joyful and glad to be on their way.

In this blog, we explore the aspects of school that students often long for once they graduate. It’s undeniable that life really does change forever.

1. Close Friends

One of the most cherished aspects of school life is the friendships that are formed. School friends often become lifelong companions, sharing joys, challenges, and secrets. Graduates often find themselves missing the easy conversations of school, the inside jokes, late-night chats and study sessions and the shared experiences that make friendships in school so unique. Some students will have made friends in Year 5 who are still close now, while others have developed friendships over the years and others will have cemented one or two very close friends during Year 12. 

Loneliness can sometimes be challenging post-school before new friendships are established, so ensuring connections with school friends continue, gives that stability and feeling of belonging. It is also important to make an effort to develop out-of-school friendships. However, many past students share that often Santa girls who were not friends at school connect post-school because of shared school experiences.

2. Routine and Support

School provides a structured routine many students find comforting. Waking up at a certain time, attending classes, and participating in College events and activities creates a sense of order. After graduation, the absence of this structured routine can leave students feeling a bit lost trying to establish a new schedule in the absence of school timetables, routines and break times. No more Consent2Go, lunch boxes, signing in at student services or uniform infringements.

For many, school is a safe haven—a place where they feel protected and supported. The absence of this safe environment can make the transition into the real world feel overwhelming. Graduates miss the feeling of security that comes with a familiar environment.

While many graduates have dreamed of independence, losing that little comforting knowledge of people all around looking out for them can be confronting. Time is now their own, where they need to select work shifts, times for tutorials, exercise or sporting opportunities and the many other aspects that will make up each day. Where they go and when is now their choice. Life is all up to them now, and they will soon be faced with decisions that they alone have to make. The decisions they make will define who they become.

3. Connections with Teachers

Most students will depart school with memories of a teacher who had an impact on them, even if they don’t realise it at the time. This may be a Homeroom teacher, a subject teacher, a coach, a music tutor, a boarding staff member, a member of the support team or a retreat or camp leader.

Dedicated, caring teachers often leave a lasting impact on students. The guidance, support, and mentorship provided by teachers are invaluable. The opportunity to engage in discussions, debates and group tasks and to share their passions can be a loss post-school.

Staff are often familiar with students’ backgrounds, strengths and challenges, whereas in life beyond school, this is something that takes time for people at work, University or TAFE to get to know and sometimes will never know your struggles. After graduation, students often miss the wise advice, encouragement and the belief staff had in their potential.

4. Sense of Belonging

Participating in co-curricular activities such as sports, drama, and music, not only develops skills but also creates a sense of belonging. Graduates often miss the performances, fixtures, competitions and the spirit of working together with others who have similar passions.

School life is also dotted with various events and celebrations, such as Purple Bra Day, Mercy Day and the Year 12 Ball. These events create memories that are cherished for a lifetime. After graduation, students might find themselves reminiscing about the excitement of these events and the sense of unity they fostered with their year group.

Finding your tribe who share your interests and passions beyond school enables this sense of being valued for your strengths and talents while also providing a deep sense of belonging.

Year 12 ATAR students are currently reviewing exams and preparing for their final WACE exams. We know they have shown incredible commitment throughout the year and hope all girls are able to perform their best on the day.

The College community wishes all Year 12 ACCESS students all the best as they commence work, apprenticeships, TAFE or University pathways. We hope that the opportunities you have engaged in during your time in the ACCESS program will enable you to thrive in your future pathway.

Our community will be farewelling our Class of 2023 in the coming week. While the journey after graduation opens up new opportunities embracing the future, it’s natural to experience a bittersweet longing for the days left behind. The friendships, teachers, sense of community and daily routine create unique experiences that are irreplaceable.

As students embark on their next chapter, they carry with them cherished memories of their school days. These memories serve as a constant reminder of the solid foundation upon which their dreams will take shape.


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