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Dear Year 12,
And here you stand at the very beginning of the final journey, the last rites, the last hurrah, the apocalypse…whatever you see it as. You’re here. You never thought you’d make it, did you? There were days where the feeling was mutual, believe me. I’m half totally proud, and half completely terrified at the concept of you as a Year 12. Okay, possibly 53% proud…
You arrived on our doorstep with 4 inches too much shirt sleeve or pant leg, far too much hair product in your hair, or concealer that actually revealed where all your bourgeoning pimples were, rather than covering them up. You did the Bambi-eyed look for a day and then slowly, slowly you started getting streetwise. I’ll be honest, plenty of times I did laugh…at you…for your honesty which still smelt of Year 7 innocence, for your dorkiness disguised as cool, and for your terrible attempts at covering up your nerves, which were off the charts, with ill-fated man-nods, or quasi-sexy hair tosses that looked more like hiccups gone wrong.
What I’d like to say to you is that where you are now, the beginning of the final part of your journey, is amazing. Some of you have glided through the Year 8 to 11 rite of passage as easily as butter on pancakes; some of you have gotten stuck in every imaginable pot-hole, some self-created, or been so beat-up by the experiences of high school that we wanted to bubble-wrap you. And ourselves, for YOUR safety and well-being.
But no matter what your path, know this…you are SEEN, VALUED + LOVED for exactly who you are.
Every time you’ve exceeded expectation, yours or mine, every time you’ve surprised yourself, every bloody yard duty or detention you’ve received, every time you thought you’d gotten away with truanting, and I had to collect you from the Coles or BP down the road…all of this is a part of you, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the cringe-worthy. Every time my heart swelled because the words that came out of your mouth overwhelmed me with their authenticity and grace…that’s you too. You really ARE amazing. But I’ll also be content with a, “Nice to see you’ve scaled back on the hair product this year, sir!”
You matter. You matter completely…I hope you know that.
All these quirks bring you to life and make you indescribably you. It doesn’t mean I won’t be thoroughly pissed off when you rock up to a 7:30am Concert Choir rehearsal at 8:02am in pj bottoms and your school shirt and give you grief about it for all eternity…that’s my prerogative as a teacher. (I love my job!) But my goodness, you change the momentum of my day by being in it and constantly motivate me to evaluate my teaching methods, question my approach + refine my values.
You make me good, did you know that?
(And no, I won’t repeat that for you to record on your iPhone. You’ll play it back to me when I’m contemplating dissecting your spleen in frustration.)
But that’s something you should definitely know.
Be you…completely and utterly. Think your thoughts, they have value and resonance. They are yours and only yours. Try to let your ideals be affected and shaped by others. Invite new ideas in + keep the ones which you like the sound of, and are in line with your values.
You are not your final exam mark or your ATAR score. That’s not to say you can live in the Land of Disney if you do not get the mark that you hope for…yes, you may well have to yell, punch many pillows, kick things, cry, and share your grief with your family + closest friends. You may have to grieve a year’s work that did not go the way you planned. But the fact remains…while a mark gone wrong is disappointing, it does not define you.
You are not a number.
You are…the time in Year 8 you came up to me, face pale from worry, when you didn’t understand Primary + Secondary Triads perfectly the first time. You cared enough about the work, and less about your pride, to come and ask me for help.
You are…the time I had to extract myself from my only double free to go and grab you by the scruff of the neck and walk you out of the quadrangle and back into the Musicology class you were supposed to be in. What an idiot for missing a lesson and NOT HIDING. What an even BIGGER idiot for usurping my food + sustenance break. Oh, you’ll feel the effects of THAT mistake, my pretty.
You are…the time that you totally nailed your Solo Performance. And by nailed, I mean that you made it through without bursting into tears, you had phrasing that was musical, you didn’t sound like you were hyperventilating, and you stood your ground. Actually, you lit up the stage. You remembered to indicate me as your accompanist, and you even bowed. You got in the B band (“Proficient” for all you New SACE wannabes), but it might as well have been an A+++ for its worth. You achieved what only a day ago was impossible.
You are…the time you managed to tie a fabulous windsor knot for a Concert Choir performance, with the right end being longer. For the first time ever, you walked on stage with a tie, not a granny knot, around your neck.
You are…the Year 11 who sat down next to the Year 8 on the landing who was stressed beyond stressed, and helped them assemble their clarinet for Beginner Band when they were running late when only 6 months ago, you probably would have had the care, but not the courage or inclination, to be that sort of person. Now you do.
You are…the kid who point-blank refused to sing in Year 8 Girls Choir, who, if looks could kill, I’d be dead and buried or a pile of ash, simply by just BEING your choir teacher. And now…you are stepping up to sing for your year level choir assessment in Year 10 STAB Choir…and did I just see the faintest bit of swagger in your walk?! You are proud of what you’ve achieved with your voice, even if it’s not winning any opera aria competitions. You don’t need it to…it’s a musical tool which helps you access the learning you need. It takes all my self-control not to do the happy bum-wiggle dance then and there, in front of the whole choir. Sometimes, I don’t care, but for your sake, I always check that I have stockings or pants on before I do.
You are…all your terrible jokes, all the times you’ve annoyed the hell out of me, the weird hair trends of Year 9, and the slightly emo-ish eye-shadow episodes of 2011, the tears when you didn’t make school captain because you cared so much, the stress of telling me that you wanted to move out rather than come out, the vibrant, living person in front of me.
You are so, so much.
Please remember that, you bit-of-a-legend Year 12, as you embark on this year.
Love from Ms Kwokkie