Class of 2021

Year 12 students across the country are preparing to sit their final exams.  In Victoria, the pandemic has seen students facing the challenge of lockdowns and online learning for much of their year 11 and 12 studies.  We share reflections from three parishioners who recognise that despite the challenges of the past two years, the Class of 2021 have much to be proud of…

Calming of the Storm – Ella Redman, Year 12 Student

Laptop screens, postponed SAC dates and another extended lockdown release date.  These are the three main parts of my VCE life once again.  To have the constant change of settings of lockdown, to partial freedom is making me feel seasick, in a storm of 2020 and 2021.  My Texts and Traditions teacher once said in a prayer that we are in a storm, and everyone has individual boats of different kinds.  Some are cargo ships, taking us through and slowly but strongly carrying their cargo to their destination with some on board as well.  Others are little rowboats, tiny and hard to spot with them only clinging on as water starts to swell by taking one wave at a time, like some struggling people are taking one day at a time.

I’d like to think that everyone has a different version of boats, but we are all in the same storm.  Just like the 12 disciples in Luke’s Gospel, being professional fishermen, they have been through this countless times, however, they themselves were fearing for their lives.  I understand as well as you, that we have been through this before, but now my boat is pretty battered from last year.  A lot of the time when I feel like I’m drowning in my anxiety of SACS and school I feel ashamed, because I see people sailing through the same thing much easier than through my little gunboat, and I try to remind myself that even they could be taking in water too.  I shut myself out, let the storm clouds hide my personal struggle and instead create the illusion of my tiny boat tugging along just fine, so then my close loved ones believe it as well and they themselves must keep up with my illusion of being ok, they hide it too.

The 12 disciples didn’t stay silent, they woke up Jesus from his slumber and cried out truthfully of their worry.  I feel like we have to do that too, understand and accept what we are going through and understand everyone is being affected in a different but negative way as well.  All I’m feeling from the Year 12’s of 2021 is that they are just gritting their teeth through all the work they have to do just like any other year level did.  We all need to accept (including myself) that we can’t perform as we did before this virus.  We all need to open up to our troubles, no matter how small, to each other as well as to God.  Together, we will get through this, we will see each other again and the sea will be calm once more.

A Parent’s Perspective – Carol-Ann Wong


“GOMO” Get Over it and Move On.  These words, shared many years ago with me by the wonderful Rose Urquhart, who taught all three sons at Our Lady’s Primary School, has been our family’s mantra over the past 18 months.  No more so than for our youngest doing Year 12.  We had hunkered down into lockdown last year – fortunate each family member could work or study from home and had access to technology which enabled lessons to continue and assessments completed.  Christmas celebrated with family and friends seemed to indicate a promising return to normality.

Come 2021, there were Year 12 Rites of Passage: school leadership appointments, a dedicated area at school, hoodies, special ties, planning for the Formal After-Party, BBQ get-togethers – all hinted towards a year that seemed almost a return to normality.  But it did not come to pass and by late May we had pivoted back into on-off lockdowns.  For us, reality hit a bit harder than most when a school teacher attended the MCG and put all students, staff and families into a 14-day quarantine.  Yet school life still had to go on and all had to adapt – some better than others.

Through it all, the GOMO mantra continued.  The school community rallied.  A Year 12 Care Package was delivered during the term three holidays with parents and the school community generously contributing money, goods and time.

Like any household, harmony hasn’t always reigned, and keeping sight of the end goal of Year 12 has been tricky.  But, as parents, we know there are many pathways in life, and if it takes a few twists along the road for our Year 12, and others like him, to get to the right path then so be it.  GOMO.

Dr Michael Davies, Principal St Bernard’s College, Essendon

Signs and symbols are important in our Catholic tradition.  They remind us of simple truths, of who we are and who we can be on our best days; they are aspirational and inspirational.  When we design college campuses and spaces within them, we think of what we want to teach and how we want to teach, how we want to interact as individuals and as a collective.  The learnings we take away from our shared experiences go far beyond the three R’s.  These learnings, spiritual, temporal, physical and emotional, form who we are and who we will be into the future.  Each experience colours the lens through which we will make decisions in life – our personal epistemological stance.  At St Bernard’s College the first statue to greet our young men are two young people, one supporting the other.  Colloquially known as Eddie and Bernie after Edmund Rice and St Bernard this statue extols the virtue of reaching out in support of those who need help.  It is a constant reminder that that person may be sitting in the seat next to you or oceans away.  A little further into the College facing the queue for the canteen is a large sign with the Nguni Bantu word Ubuntu.  Ubuntu meaning “humanity” is sometimes translated as “I am because we are.”  Wherever you turn throughout the College you will see the EREA (Edmund Rice Education Australia) touchstones calling all in the community to commit to offering a liberating education based on gospel values within an inclusive community dedicated to solidarity and justice.  In each room a crucifix: Christ’s sacrifice for us all.  Signs and symbols.

Our challenge as educators in leading our young people during the time of flexible and remote learning goes beyond the acquisition of facts and figures, beyond successful demonstration of academic skill and long after the day when an ATAR score fades in importance.  One of our challenges has been to take all those lessons derived from our physical signs and symbols, these silent sentinels, that teach our young people every day.  As a community, it has been incumbent upon us all to remind our young people to look left and right, to check on each other like Eddie and Bernie.  In a time when the remoteness of the learning trumps the flexibility, it has been a source of immense gratification to see our young men care for each other in inventive and meaningful ways.  They have shared the hardship of remote learning and shouldered the responsibility to be intentional in seeking out interaction, they realise the I am because we are.

The Year 12 students speak of the legacy they will leave behind.  They worry that because they haven’t been on-site in a physical sense, they haven’t passed down the lessons and examples they learnt from those who went before them.  They understand how much they grew in watching, listening to and absorbing the example of others.  I contend, and have elucidated to our young people, that the example they have set in these two most difficult years has surpassed what we could hope for in setting an example.  They have not only proven themselves to be outstanding men in the easy times, but they have also grown through the struggles of these two years and proven themselves extraordinary examples of fine Catholic young men in times of stress, uncertainty and fear.

As we reach that time of the year when we reflect on the journey of our most senior students, we judge ourselves as an institution on the men they have become.  There is a deeper appreciation of their achievements far beyond the messages of a reductionist league table.  We mourn the loss of the rites of passage, the drama productions, sporting and social events, the valedictory assemblies and wish this was not so.  But, in a time of a global pandemic, we as educators can but marvel at the stoicism of our young people and we would sincerely have it otherwise.  Whilst they have spent time away from our College, missing those silent sentinels, we understand clearly that our students go out into the world as our signs and symbols and we couldn’t be more proud.


VCE written examinations commence this Wednesday, 27 October.  Please keep all Year 12 students and their families in your prayers.


Coronavirus My Daily Bread


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