Year 12 faces the most challenging HSC ever
For Year 12 students, the final year of school has been a wild ride – and not for the usual reasons. Many have been unable to access resources and the school facilities they need for their studies as a result of bushfires and COVID restrictions.
“Some people who needed equipment had to put their experiments on hold,” says Jemma Woldhuis, a Year 12 student who attends St Matt’s, West Pymble. “It’s definitely put more pressure on, especially before trials.”
The biggest challenge has been adjusting to changes. “We had systems set up at home, and then when we just got into the swing of that, we had to come back to school,” she says. “It’s been hard to keep up with the work and get that deeper knowledge. Our school did incredibly well to prepare us for when we were home, but I can imagine a lot of people would have extreme difficulty even just getting schoolwork finished.”
“I’ve learned so much about how much I value knowing that God is in control,” she adds. “When I felt confused or angry at being home or struggling with my schoolwork, I would remember that there is a plan much bigger than my own and that’s God’s plan. It’s bigger, and better, and that’s super-comforting.”
Preeti Jadav has also found her experience of Year 12 nothing like she expected it to be.
“I remember, before I started Year 12, going to Bible study and asking people to pray that I would still be able to prioritise God in my life instead of my HSC,” she says. “I didn’t think that God would make it this hard!”
On top of the stress of online learning, which Miss Jadav describes as “the worst”, her youngest brother was born prematurely and is in a neonatal intensive care unit, so she helps her family while her mother is needed at hospital. She also appreciated the extra time the lockdown gave her with her family, as her daily school commute involves two buses and takes an hour each way.
Miss Jadav, who attends church at Rosemeadow, finds comfort in Scripture. “My favourite verse is Philippians 4:6,” she says. “I’m already a generally anxious person, and I overthink any situation. God is willing to listen to you even though you’re so sinful and that you’ve turned away from him all your life. He still wants to help you and he is still in control.”
Paul Burns recognises that, for some, the past year has been unusually difficult – even without the pandemic. As the director of teaching and learning for Wollondilly Anglican College, Mr Burns has seen students bearing the burdens of drought, bushfires and floods, long before Coronavirus was a concern.
“This has been very unsettling for [students],” he says. “A real praise point has been for their resilience through this time, We’re proud of the cohort and how they’ve come together. But they’ve missed significant time at the college, which means they were unable to access resources and are playing catch up.”
He says that the winter holiday break will see many teachers give up time to help students get on top of major works and extension subjects.
Pray with us for the Year 12 students of 2020
Pray for energy and patience
“We are all so exhausted as we come to the second half of this year,” Miss Woldhuis says. “Pray that we would really be patient with one another. It’s important that we be there to support each other and help others stay optimistic.”
Pray for comfort in the disappointing moments
Many students grieve missed opportunities such as 18th birthday parties, sporting and other major events of their final school year. “Pray we would have comfort, and that when we miss out on things we would find joy in the other parts of Year 12 that we do have,” Miss Woldhuis says.
Pray students remember God’s sovereignty
“Pray that we would remember God is in control, even when it feels like he’s not,” Miss Jadav says. “Pray that he would use this as an opportunity for us to glorify him.”
Praise God for teachers
“I think a praise point has been that the teaching staff here have particularly supported and cared for students, and they did remarkably during the COVID period to foster and care for those relationships,” Mr Burns says. “[Praise God for] their ability to rally and support the students.”
Adds Miss Jadav: “This has helped me appreciate how hard my teachers work. I think students don’t realise how hard teachers work to make sure the HSC can happen, and now they’re working doubly hard. They were so on top of everything, they planned the entire term to be online. I wasn’t as scared as I should have been because I felt like our teachers knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t.”
Pray students will grow in faith
“[My church has] a Year 12 Zoom bible study,” Miss Woldhuis says. “Each week I looked forward to Bible study. It was the best time of the week. It's been a blessing to have that restful time to delve into God’s word.”
Adds Mr Burns: “Pray that the students would take with them the message of Christ. Pray they would know the peace that surpasses all understanding.” This is something we can pray for all Year students.