Students attending their final year of primary school in 2020 have had an unusual year. They have had to draw on their incredible talents to stay connected with friends, fellow students and teachers. Some have stayed at home with their families, some have been in school as parents work in essential services. We asked the School Leaders from the parishes primary schools to reflect on their Year 6. Here are their stories…
Julian – Our Lady’s School Captain
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In a tough year with lots of unique and different learning experiences some things were harder to do than normal including assemblies which were led by the School Leaders and Ms Hicks remotely.
My experience of remote learning was fairly positive. Although it was slightly difficult I persevered through and I would imagine that many other kids would have done the same.
It was a very challenging time but I think that it made everyone stronger and it helped to build resilience in all of us. I think that it was a negative experience for some, but I know that it gave many of the students lots of skills around matters like this.
Being a School Leader in remote learning was definitely one of the toughest leadership experiences of my life. This is because of the recent global pandemic being Coronavirus. Despite all of this I had the most wonderful help and support from my family, teachers and of course my fellow School Leaders and I think that myself and School Leaders have shown immense resilience through remote learning and have accomplished many great things.
Sadly we had to postpone the Year ^ Confirmation this year which is a bit sad but I am happy that we get to celebrate this very special event with the Year 5’s.
My Year 6 highlights for this year were definitely excursions, like hearing from Andrew Plant and celebrating Book Week. This is just one example of the fun things that we have celebrated in what was a very challenging year for all of us.
Some special events this year were celebrated differently because of COVID19 which included assemblies, whole school meditations and lots of other special events too. It has definitely been a whole new learning experience for lots of people and I am still trying to enjoy them even if they are to be executed at a distance.
Some advice that I would give to my February self this year would be to persevere and be resilient and patient. I would give this to myself to prepare for the Coronavirus hiatus. I would also advise my past self to definitely stay in contact with my friends and to try to enjoy the middle part of the year because I doubt that I would ever re-live a time like this ever again in my entire life.
Isla – Our Lady’s School Captain
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During Remote Learning, some challenges I faced were not being able to do the things we take for granted, like going to the park or to the shops. The benefits were that I could spend some more time with my family and watch movies all together and having no rush to get to places for sports and parties
The experience of being a School Leader during Remote Learning was hard but my mum and dad helped me think of ideas for what we could do during this time. Postponing Confirmation was hard but I knew it was for the best and to keep everyone safe and doing it next year means I can see my friends from primary school again which will be great
My Year 6 highlights were going back to school to see my friends and my teachers after lockdown and getting back into the swing of a little bit of normality. Another highlight was hearing that we had 0 cases one day and our scattered play times, where the Preps to Year 2’s went out early and Years 3 to 6 went out after.
Having Mass and church celebrations online was very different and there were a lot of technical difficulties such as glitching out or not being able to join but we were all used to it after a month or so.
If I could tell my 2020 February self I would say that even though things will get canceled or postponed we had a once in a lifetime experience and that all the restrictions will be worth it in the end.
Nickie – Our Lady’s Year 6 Leader
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2020 has been quite the year.
Being a School Leader during 2020 has been one huge rollercoaster. We had to do so many things that only a number of people will get to experience.
We got to do assembly from home during a google meet, we had to do prayer through a google meet and we had to make sure that everything was done in order to make sure that we were ready.
During Remote Learning I was challenged by the fact that I couldn’t talk to the people in my group. However I loved the fact that I was in my home and I was able to work at my own pace. Communicating with the other School Leaders helped a lot. We were able to go on google meets to talk to each other and work on the projects that we still had.
My Year 6 highlights were just being able to see my friends and teachers. I like to surround myself with people who are kind and appreciate me.
If I was giving myself advice for next year I would tell myself to make sure that I don’t get in my own head. I tend to overthink a lot of things and I don’t want to lose an opportunity because of me getting in my own head.
Jack – Our Lady’s Year 6 Leader
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If I could describe Remote Learning in one word it would be ‘difficult’!
Every single morning I would wake up and get ready for my weird and wacky online day of work. I loved it at some points but at some points I felt like smashing my computer in half.
When they announced that I was School Leader I was ready for a year ahead of ups and downs and fun assemblies in front of nearly 200 kids!
One time I was in class and people were talking about Covid-19. I did not understand or know what this Covid-19 was!!! When I knew we were going to work from home I was gutted that I couldn’t do assemblies and also see my friends at school.
But instead I have had to greet them with an out of time good morning. The School Leaders had a first School Assembly. I was so excited. It was hard to do them online but after a couple of them I got used to them. I highly thank Ms Hicks for her help to the School Leaders during Remote Learning.
I was sad when I heard that the Year 6’s could not do Confirmation because I really wanted to complete all sacraments in primary school. But when I heard that we could do it next year I was very happy because I felt like I could come back and still be a part of the school community.
There were a lot of Year 6 highlights when I went into Remote Learning. I thought we would not have any celebrations but when we came back to school we had graduation to prepare for. We had toasties at school which was fun. I was sad that we can’t have Confirmation but I know when we have Confirmation next year I will come back and feel part of the community.
Prayers were very hard on google meets because I felt like I couldn’t connect with my classmates. I couldn’t nudge the person next to me if I didn’t know a word. It was hard but when I came back and did prayer at school it was much more fun than home learning prayers . Assemblies were very hard because we couldn’t be there together and some of the School Leaders dropped out because of connection but at school you can’t drop out because you’re not on a computer.
If I could write to myself in February I would say this……
Dear Past Jack,
This year will be the craziest of your life, you will work from home on computers! But don’t worry it won’t be as hard as you expect just focus and have resilience. There will be ups and downs but just pick yourself up and keep going. You will come back to school in late October, it sounds a long time away but home learning goes quickly so cherish it as much as you can. DON’T GIVE UP AND STAY FOCUSED!
From November Jack.
Angus – Our Lady of Good Counsel School Leader
2020 has certainly been a different year for all of us. As OLGC Leaders, it was sad that we were unable to fully experience the opportunity entrusted to us by OLGC and the Parish. There were however some awesome things that we never expected.
Early during remote learning there was a lot of thinking and planning with Ms Dustow (Deputy Principal) and our leadership group on what we could do to contribute to the school and make an impact. This resulted in myself and Audrey leading virtual assemblies, our leadership group launching and judging online OLGC MasterChef and the OLGC’s Got Talent competitions, which were great fun. Whilst things were different in 2020 this taught us to be leaders in a different way which was a great experience.
Remote learning was an opportunity to learn new things and experience a completely different way of learning. Some of the challenges with remote learning were not being able to interact with others or have your teacher provide answers to your questions as easily as in the classroom. Remote learning definitely had benefits such as learning how to use technology to work together and also changed the way we were able to think about new ways to interact even though we were not able to see each other physically. The OLGC Community stayed connected and our teachers were amazing in being able to keep us learning and engaged.
Whilst we were not able to physically attend Mass for much of this year, we were able to reflect and celebrate as classes and as a school community. It was important that we prayed together so that God could give us strength and hope that this would end.
If I gave my February 2020 self advice for this year it would be, things are going to be different, stay connected with friends and sometimes things will get tricky however it will pass.
2020 has been a year of ups and downs, twists and turns and a year I will never forget.
Audrey – Our Lady of Good Counsel School Leader
I once heard a quote “No matter how hard the past is, you can always begin again”. Little did I know that this quote will resemble my 2020 school year.
The year 2020 was a completely different year for all. A s I would view the news all I would see was two words COVID-19 and cancelled. As each day went past more and more things would get cancelled and more and more people would be lathering sanitiser on their hands. As online learning commenced it was difficult to adapt to the several changes but like many students I was able to get used to a ‘school environment’ at home. A huge help was the many teachers who encouraged us all to work hard and made learning fun and engaging. I really don’t think the staff members get nearly enough credit for being able to also adapt to the many changes and still come to our meetings everyday enthusiastically ready to teach us.
Leading in remote circumstances was quite challenging but the OLGC student leadership team and Miss Dustow did a fabulous job. We scheduled meetings weekly trying to incorporate creative ideas to connect with our peers from other grades. We started first with our virtual assembly. Pre COVID we would do assemblies every Fridays so bringing it back (virtually) resulted in some normalcy. Furthermore, we also connected with our two programs we created which were OLGC’s MasterChef where kids could show off their cooking talents and OLGC’s Got Talent where they could show off any of their talents. Learning in general was unique, especially learning about the sacrament of Confirmation. It was different but luckily it didn’t make me feel any less connected with God. A huge thank you to Father Trac who joined us for one of our lessons. This definitely helped us all to deepen our understanding of the sacrament we are going to undergo. Even though many school masses were not available, as a class we would say a prayer every morning and afternoon. I feel as though my connection with God has strengthened because I’ve been able to notice the little things in life.
Many of us year 6’s missed those pinnacle moments/highlights but we were able to experience highlights that passed year 6’s would never. For example a few highlights for me would be when my teacher spoke on mute, or when she would forget to present her screen, or even that moment when we finally got back to school after staying at home forever! It’s important too that we realise the benefits this pandemic has given us. Moreover, this pandemic has changed my perspective on what a ‘successful’ year 6 year is. It’s not about getting to stand in front of a real audience and do assembly, or doing school tours but instead it’s about making a change and being grateful for the people you have around you and cherishing those little moments.
Now, as our year comes to an end and our primary school journey closes we finish this chapter to make a new one. “No matter how hard the past is, you can always begin again” so even though we did see each other over a screen in the past, and we were locked in our houses we now can begin again. Secondary school is about new opportunities so appreciate those tough, strange, happy and joyful memories and prepare to make new ones. Let’s head to the future!
Meg – Our Holy Redeemer School Captain
This year was unusual for everyone. Some of my friends stayed at home and connected with people via the internet, others went to school because they had parents working away from home. In the beginning, when we were told to stay home, I couldn’t lie, I was quite excited. It sounded like a holiday. Then the reality set in that I was unable to see and play with my friends face to face. I spent many dinners and fun evenings playing board games with my family and online trivia games. My family made me feel safe. I was so grateful to have my Mum, Dad and seven siblings with me to talk to and play with. As the weeks went by, I was unsure when I would ever go to school again. I began to feel uncertain about what was going on in the world.
As a school leader, I was asked to attend school and be involved in several video presentations, which I really enjoyed. It enabled me to get dressed in my uniform and see my friends, and my teachers. It was comforting to know school was still waiting there for me when things could return to normal. I really missed having my teachers right beside me to guide me. As the term went on, I figured out how to talk to my friends and teachers via Zoom and Google Meets.
It was disappointing to not celebrate our Confirmation this year but it does give us an opportunity to catch up as a class again next year after we have moved on to new schools. I can’t wait to catch up on all the ‘goss’ with old friends when we can gather next year.
This year was full of ups and downs but I was always told to look on the bright side. We have our health…we live in a great area…and we have great friends. There were so many highlights at school already this year like making our picture books, going on camp just before Covid, spending time with my family, and the biggest highlight was being School Captain of Our Holy Redeemer.
Some advice for this year is to be grateful for everything, family, good health, the environment…and just look on the bright side because things will get better. Hard times are not always bad times.
Bridget – Our Holy Redeemer School Captain
Covid-19 has affected many things and although there were benefits like being able to spend more time with your family, home learning has been a challenge. By not being able to do face to face learning with your teacher, this year was very different.
The first lockdown was difficult as we all learnt new skills such as how to use Zoom and how to submit school work online. For the second lockdown we were lucky enough to have our school tubs with our reading materials and resources which made it easier to complete our work. All our teachers were very helpful and encouraging especially by coming up with inventive ways to learn from home. Ms Dunne had us read and research a book set in England and France, so we were able to travel through a book when we were locked down at home.
As School Captain I missed many opportunities I anticipated for the year such as speaking roles, meeting special guests, and representing the school but what I really missed was supporting and helping others at school, even if it was just a smile and a hello. Being a leader during distance learning required us to think of new and different ways to lead, we did this through recording and leading virtual assemblies.
Never in a million years did I think we would be filming virtual assemblies and virtual Masses. It was very different not being there or able to receive Holy Communion. Class Masses and Class Prayer were cancelled and this was different because even though there are times to pray on your own, not being able to be together to celebrate and support one another felt distant and a little lonely. It was sad not to say goodbye to Father Mark in person and we are yet to formally welcome Father Brendan and Father Trac.
This year our Confirmation ceremony has been postponed and I was disappointed as it is an important faith milestone and a sacrament we prepared for and to share with our family, teachers and friends at school. Perhaps we can do it next year and we can celebrate it together, like a happy reunion.
This year has been unusual but things that assisted me along the way were my teachers telling me not to worry, it will all be over soon. I was excited we were still able to complete and make our Year 6 Picture Books. The highlight of the year was getting back to school after terms of home learning. If I could give any advice to anyone or to my future self, I would say not to worry about anything and just keep on going, we will cope and adapt.