Jesus and Year 12, 2020 Edition
The HSC is something that plagues students’ minds from their first days of high school.
We’re taught to write essays and vaguely instructed to construct notes and study summaries. But coming from a public high school, my faith was not encouraged to be a focus in my final year of high school at all. School taught me some strategies to maintain stress and perfect time management. But faith and spirituality was never mentioned in our study sessions. This of course isn’t entirely surprising, and I was in no way expecting extra spiritual guidance from my school during my final year of high school. But it’s interesting to think of how my year would have been different if my faith was of higher regard. I obviously shaped my year off what my teachers suggested, as they have taught HSC courses for more years then they care to admit. However, my spirituality was not a priority in their teaching of time management.
Time management is obviously a major concern for all year 12 students. We are taught to schedule in study blocks and free time. Spiritual enlightenment and growth, however, never seem to be highlighted in the study lectures. Coming from a Christian background, before my last year began, I knew that Church was going to continue throughout the year. What I didn’t know was how cumbersome Church was going to become. And that wasn’t just because of the slightly judgemental comments of, ‘oh, you’re not studying?’ every week. It was similarly because my entire life had changed to conform to the education system, but nothing at Church seemed to have changed. You may call me selfish and self-absorbed for thinking this. I don’t blame you. But would it not be so encouraging for year 12 students if the place where they theoretically feel most at home, acknowledged their struggle?
The response to this may be that HSC isn’t such a big deal, and that students need to see that their spiritual journey is more important than some exams. It’s true, the exams don’t matter nearly as much as most students are taught. But the fact of the matter is, we still need to sit the exams. And, to an extent, we’re still expected to attend church.
Of course, the presence of COVID-19 did not help this at all. Youth groups were disrupted majorly which restricted mine, and my peers’, spiritual journeys and engagement. So with online school, virtual church, and year 12 stress, I can say with a great amount of confidence that many students have lost touch with Jesus throughout this year. Which leads to the general consensus that this year has been, if nothing else, a learning curve. We’ve learnt how important human interaction really is. We’ve discovered a nationwide reliance on toilet paper. And maybe, most importantly, we have learnt how difficult it can be to maintain spiritual health whilst isolated from our church communities.
What I would do differently, for those embarking on their final year in 2021, is to put Jesus time at the top of your to do list. Or at least up there amongst the essays and study notes.
A five minute devotional everyday has the potential to do so much good and I know that if I had maintained that, my year would have been at least a little bit less stressful.
Finally, I do not want to imply that students’ lack of spiritual progress in their final year of high school is due solely to the attitudes or actions of their Congregations. I only want to highlight how youth have so much more potential when backed by their community of faith. I additionally want to thank the Uniting Church and Pulse team for their ongoing support of their younger members.
As a recent high school graduate, I reach out to you all. I urge and encourage Congregations to support their year 12 students in any way possible. I congratulate my peers, who have survived our disaster of a final year and wish you luck in the immense change in front of us.
And finally, I pray that all students have the courage to let Jesus into their education experience.
Suzy Cornford has finished the HSC at Turramurra High School and looking forward to University where she is studying Communications.
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