It’s a brave new virtual world for Victoria’s Year 12s who are not only missing out on peer interaction and face-to-face classroom teaching, but also forfeiting important rites of passage such as school formals, 18th birthday celebrations and class graduation.
Dubbed ‘Generation COVID’, these Year 12s may be learning remotely but they are maintaining their all-important social connections virtually. School News canvassed a number of Victorian school principals and senior school students about how they planned to keep school social activities alive during lockdown and mark those celebratory milestones along the way.
Robert Johnson, Head Senior School City, Haileybury Private School Melbourne said: “We had to reinvent the activities we normally provide and implement activities doable from home. Instead of team sports we have home workouts, online running clubs, board game challenges, art classes and cooking classes. Some of these are run by staff, some run by students. We also modified the extracurricular program with a focus on mental health, financial literacy and media literacy.”
Katrina Alford, Head of Year 12, Haileybury added: “We have had zoom quiz nights and today we are holding our first online senior school assembly, which is being run by the school captains. We are providing the students with a range of opportunities to keep mentally and physically healthy during this incredibly difficult time.”
Lucy Gowdie, deputy principal, Peninsula Grammar said they had also moved their wellbeing processes online through the school’s mentoring systems and Positive Education program. She said their prefects have shown “extraordinary” resilience and determination to keep their cohort united during the lockdown.
“It is our hope, and we have every intention, of ensuring that our Year 12 finish this year as they began it, together,” says Lucy.
Karen Snibson, principal, Phoenix P-12 Community College said the school’s Year 12 leaders had designed strategies to connect with their peers including virtual assemblies, peer challenges, peer mentoring, videos and personalised care packages.
“At a time like this, we have so much to be proud of and grateful for, most especially our wonderful students and staff,” says Karen.
“They have accepted the ‘current normal’ with a sense of determination and purpose. They see the role that they can play in reducing the spread of the virus and accept that responsibility maturely.”
Karen Terry, principal, St Helena Secondary College said the school captains and student leaders had been active on social media organising and running competitions. Of the school’s other initiatives, Karen said: “We send out a daily workout via email that often has mindfulness and other activities as well. Our Northern Youth Performing Arts program has been running weekly remotely with guest artists paid to run virtual workshops. We are also developing a Docu-Musical.”
While the STEM and LEAP activities and events Haileybury runs are limited at present, next week the school will still have a range of activities offered to celebrate STEM week including virtual tours of institutions, e-sports and various challenges and competitions.
‘Quaranteens’ was a newsletter and podcast, which Haileybury’s Campus Prefects, House Captains and Vice Captains instigated and produce.
“These provide commentary on local and global events, individual student profiles, film or game reviews as well as weekly challenges and trivia,” says Robert.
The resilience, grit and determination of Victoria’s Year 12s was best summed up by Lucy from Peninsula Grammar:
This year has brought with it more problems than solutions, but if anything can be learnt from the lessons of the last few months it is that the unity of community, the resolve of the individual and the power of positive thought can overcome even the most confounding of obstacles.