for "year 12" - the final year of secondary school here - came out yesterday.
There was the usual photograph of a group of high achieving students in this morning's paper. I do not know any of them.
I do know other students who did year 12 this year. The Senior Cat gave some study skills assistance to three of them. I did some casual tutoring too . All of them have passed at about the level we expected and will probably get into the courses they have applied for.
It will be a relief for them and their families and no doubt they will now enjoy the seasonal festivities more than they have for the past few weeks.
But there are problems ahead too. One student I know was told he "must" do certain science subjects. He would like to do maths but his father wants him to "do something more practical". Another has been told that the course structure and content has been changed this coming year - cutting out the very thing he was particularly interested in. The father of another student has just accepted a promotion but that means moving the family interstate - away from the university of choice and her friends. So far her parents are refusing to allow her to remain here - even if it means not going to university. And yes, she may be legally an adult but the reality is that she does not have the financial means to leave home and her parents think she is "too young" to do so.
I don't envy these students. Those who have excelled are going to be expected to go on excelling. Those who are under pressure to do courses purely for employment purposes or because their course of choice is no longer available may grow to love the alternative but there will always be at least a faint memory of "what if...?" and what if you have the choice you worked for taken from you by other circumstances?
Year 12 is difficult enough without any of those things. Even the most able students at the Whirlwind's school are encouraged to complete, as you can, the Year 12 certificate over two years.
I am about to head off to the supermarket and the Post Office. There will be at least two more Year 12 students working in the supermarket when I get there. I have read essays for both of them all this year and I expect they will have done well. Both of them have needed their part-time jobs in order to even stay at school - one because his father lost his job and another because his father has been in hospital for months. It hasn't been any fun for them. They have had to grow up fast - too fast perhaps. They deserve to do well.
It's a reminder that not all teenagers are irresponsible or lazy or lacking in motivation or any of the other negatives they are sometimes accused of. These students are not perfect. They have made mistakes and bad choices and their "love lives" can be awkward but they also deserve a break. I hope they get one.