For the class of 2020, their final year of school has been challenging in ways they never imagined. The global pandemic has disrupted their education and preparation for final exams and upended many of those “rites of passage” moments that create memories for life.
“Year 12 is this grand spectacle of an occasion that all your parents and your aunts and your uncles and all the older students always build up for you. You're always told that you live life for moments like you'll get in year 12, you know? Your formal, your graduation day.” Joseph, Year 12 student, Sydney
On Monday, students from across Australia open up about this year of uncertainty and disruption. Filmed mainly on their smartphones, these young Australians explain what the year of coronavirus has been like for them.
“It was just really shocking, I guess that I couldn't believe that this would be happening in my senior year.” Seleena, Year 12 student, Mount Isa
Some found themselves at the epicentre of the crisis and experienced first hand what it means to be in a hard lockdown.
“Everyone started to panic, they're like, ‘What's going on?’ …There was (sic) officers all around the estate blocking all the entrances and exits of the buildings, telling us we can't leave.” Nada, Year 12 student, Melbourne
Others found themselves trapped at boarding school on the wrong side of a state border with the prospect of months away from their families.
“The school was told, if you can go home, you've got to go home. Once that happened, a lot of people left and we got put into the house, which we nicknamed the orphanage.” Barney, Year 12 student, Bourke
Many found themselves questioning their future career plans as they watched the nation fall into recession, and saw the impact of the pandemic on their loved ones.
“We stopped asking questions about ‘can I pursue my dreams?’ and we started asking things like, ‘is there even a dream for me to pursue?’” Joseph, Year 12 student, Sydney
“Both my mum and my dad have lost their jobs to redundancies…it was an emotional toll because you can see that the loss of their jobs has impacted them both.” Zoe, Year 12 student, Melbourne
These eloquent young Australians are already reflecting on how 2020 has shaped them.
“This year has definitely changed me as a person. I think this year has really made me more driven, a bit to reach my goals and it's made me want to reach those goals, and it's made me not take things that I took for granted.” Zoe,
Despite the mental and emotional toll, they want Australia to know that they are ready to face the future.
“It's not going to be easy. No one said it's going to be easy but I think that it hit the right group of young people, because we're fighters.” Nada, Year 12 student, Melbourne.