Mackenzie Smith says being a Year 12 student during a global pandemic comes with an array of emotions.
On the one hand, says the teenager, you feel an uncertainty about the future, but on the other hand there’s the joy that comes with having toasted sandwiches for lunch.
The All Saints’ College, St Mary’s Campus Maitland student says, while graduation ceremonies, sporting events, a formal and fundraisers are now ‘on hold’, she has learned that what matters most this year is focusing on the positives.
“Year 12 is an important year,” she said.
“Truthfully, I am a little disappointed that we have missed out on a few of the social side of things.
“I am heartbroken to think that, after 13 years of schooling and my parents by my side, they won’t be able to attend my graduation.
“Even now it remains a challenge and, whilst we are trying to make the most of it with Zoom assemblies, it just isn’t the same.
“[But] we understand that the teachers and school community are doing all they can to ensure we are celebrated and congratulated for our efforts.
“They really did try endlessly to make online learning enjoyable and keep us motivated.”
As school leader of social justice, Mackenzie had been making plans for a sleep-out as part of a Vinnies Winter Appeal, however, this event was cancelled because of the pandemic.
“[But] I am so grateful that we were able to go on retreat (camp) at the start of Year 12,” she said.
“It is such a shame that many schools would have missed out on this opportunity to bond and socialise with their cohort.”
The virus itself presents its own level of stress for this year’s graduates, with the fear of a second wave never far from their thoughts.
“The so-called ‘second wave’ that has seemed to hit Victoria and Sydney is a little too close to home,” Mackenzie said.
“What we thought was getting back to normality, which is difficult to remember, is not [happening].”
However, like most Generation Z’s, Mackenzie and her friends are finding new ways to seek out the positives.
“A few of my friends and I started doing workouts and movie nights via Zoom as a way to maintain interaction and keep in touch,” she said.
“We’re also trying to get students to take pictures of what they liked about isolation so we can add them to our end of year highlights.
“For me, I loved having my own study space and I loved getting to make a hot lunch every day.”
It may be a new tag this “class of COVID” are adapting to but, according to Mackenzie, it comes with the territory.
“This is the year that has been like no other,” she said.