25 September 2022

COVID-19 cohort will be more capable, determined: School leavers

Isabella Cassar is a Year 12 VCE student at Hume Anglican Grammar who is looking forward to becoming a primary school educator. Image: Supplied.

Kirralee Nicolle

10 September 2022

Missed opportunities were a major challenge during COVID-19, school leavers say.

The Melbourne Anglican surveyed VCE and VCAL students from private schools across Melbourne and Geelong about how they had found hope amid the pandemic.

Many students surveyed said that missed opportunities were the hardest part of the last two years. Other answers were remote learning, having COVID-19 or trying to avoid getting it, burnout and isolation from friends.

They also said that they experienced a lowered capacity to concentrate in class, had difficulty maintaining friendships and struggled to get back into routine.

But there were positives. An anonymous student from Beaconhills College said that they believed the pandemic had prepared students better for the world.

“I think that this cohort of students will have more reliance and determination,” they said.

Students also cited an increased ability to work from home and a better work/life balance as things for which their unique experience of schooling had prepared them.

We also asked them about what they hoped to offer the world, their sources of hope in this time and what they were looking forward to as they finished their schooling.

Here’s what they had to say.

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What do they hope to offer the world once they graduate?

“I hope to share my love of learning, especially when I become a primary school educator” – Isabella Cassar, Year 12, Hume Anglican Grammar

“A loving and compassionate member of the community” – Anonymous, Year 12, Beaconhills College

“Individuality” – Anonymous

“I hope to learn more about myself and my passions and hope to contribute to the world” – Caitie, Year 12, Geelong Grammar School

“I hope to offer the help and support me as a nurse can provide to others” – Bridget, Year 12, Shelford Girls’ Grammar

Peter Waterhouse is a chaplain at Hume Anglican Grammar.

Mr Waterhouse said that he sought to instil in his students a sense of broader purpose.

“I always encourage them to think about not just their own growth but what will they offer,” he said.

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What have been their sources of hope in this time?

“Church community” – Charli, Year 12 Camberwell Girls’ Grammar School

“Whatever you eat you drink whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” – Isabella Cassar, Year 12, Hume Anglican Grammar

“Being with my family” – Anonymous, Year 12, Beaconhills College

“My friends, because [they] would be in the same situation as [me] and not being able to fly back home, so we would just spend a lot more time with each other and make the most of it” – Cassie, Year 12, Geelong Grammar School

“My mum – she has always been there for me and reassures me” – Caitie, Year 12, Geelong Grammar School

“Online communication apps such as Discord which have made me feel included in the online world without feeling isolated” – Bridget, Year 12, Shelford Girls’ Grammar

Mr Waterhouse said a focus of his work in this time had been to remind the students that life was about seasons. Mr Waterhouse said that sometimes those seasons were out of the students’ control. He said that when students were following Christ, He walked with them in the difficult seasons of life.

“Jesus doesn’t promise a smooth flight, but he promises a safe landing,” he said.

“Now we’re coming to a season where we can dance and embrace and speak to each other face to face.

“We should now be rejoicing in this season and adjusting back to a sense of reality.”

Anglicans Peter and Jo Waterhouse are both school chaplains at Melbourne private schools. Image: Supplied.

What are they looking forward to as they leave school?

“Going to university” – Amy, Year 12, Geelong Grammar School

“Following my dream career path of becoming a nurse” – Bridget, Year 12, Shelford Girls’ Grammar

“To be able to choose my life path” – Caitie, Year 12, Geelong Grammar School

“Going to uni and just having a lot more free time and making [decisions] for myself” – Cassie, Year 12, Geelong Grammar School

“Having a flexible timetable so that I can exercise during the day, rather [than] just on weekends or after school” – Anonymous, Year 12, Beaconhills College

“To go to University and meet new people” – Isabella Cassar, Year 12, Hume Anglican Grammar

“Exploring places I haven’t been before” – Charli, Year 12, Camberwell Girls Grammar School

Mr Waterhouse’s wife Jo is also a chaplain at Methodist Ladies’ College in Kew.

She said that though it could be easy to be apathetic in a demographic which often experiences privilege, that was not typical of students at MLC. She said that for example, students at the school were learning to knit blankets for the elderly experiencing disadvantage.

“What I have seen in our students is that it tends to be what they are naturally passionate about what they are drawn to,” Ms Waterhouse said.

“You really do see that the students have their passions that they follow.”

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