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VCE Exams at MECS

VCE Exams at MECS

Thursday, 10 November 2016  | Emma - Senior School Coordinator
This year for the first time, all MECS Year 12 exams are being completed on site, here at MECS. Michelle Smith has worked extremely hard over the last couple of years to ensure all elements of our facilities and procedures allow us to do an excellent job of hosting our Year 12 students for their end of year exams.

As anyone who has either been through Year 12 or recently had a child complete Year 12 can tell you, exams are stressful! They are the culmination of years of hard work; a final test of their ability in order to achieve a result that reflects their dedication, and maybe even a determining factor in being able to study their course of choice. Under the pressure of limited time, a vast amount of information to remember, and anxiety from a heightened sense of importance, many students approach their Year 12 exams with a certain degree of trepidation. It has been great to see the positive responses of students and teachers to us being able to minimise at least the stress of sitting these exams at another school.

It is a strange experience being a VCE teacher. Each year a new set of fresh faced Year 12s lay claim to the Year 12 study centre, step into the role of leaders of the school, and to an extent, find a special place in the heart of each Year 12 teacher. It is a new set of students that you pour your time, energy, support, knowledge, love of a subject, evenings spent marking, and encouragement into. There is a certain intensity to teaching a Year 12 class that seems more emotionally invested, and therefore draining, than most other classes. You ride the waves of the year with your students. The highs of excellent results that reflect hard work and dedication, and the lows of disappointing outcomes or debilitating stress. In many ways you are privy to seeing your students’ hopes and dreams for the future unfolding in a more immediate sense. The question “What do you want to do when you leave school?” suddenly becomes a confronting reality for them. At this time students start making decisions about who they are, who they want to be with, where they want to go, relationships, faith, values, and so much more. At times witnessing and being part of this journey can be heart-breaking, exhausting, frustrating, and challenging. It is also immensely rewarding. It is such a humbling experience and a privilege to be invited to walk alongside these incredible young people at such a formative time in their lives.

In the weeks leading up to exams there is a flurry of emails, of practice exams to mark, study sessions to attend and individual support to provide. When the day of the exam arrives you experience the flutters of nervousness alongside your students and embrace the anticipation of another year about to be finished. Immediately before the exam you meet with your students to check their stationery, organise the seating arrangements and pray for them. Then they walk in silence into the exam room, and you stand there, and watch.

There is an odd feeling of helplessness, a letting go of the reins when the moment of the exam finally comes. So much preparation and build up. So many conversations to calm, inspire or spur on. Yet as they walk into that room, it is time for them to step out on their own. A moment of independence that parallels their imminent departure from the security and familiarity of school. As I release them into the scary world of exams, and from there into the wide and wonderful world beyond, I think about what I hope the students have learnt from their time here at MECS.

While I obviously hope they have learnt the subject knowledge for their exams, I also dare to hope that it is much more than that. I hope the students have learnt the resilience to overcome adversity and setbacks. I hope they have learnt the value of community and friendship in supporting one another through the good and the bad in life. I hope they have learnt to strive for excellence, not that which is defined by a grade or the expectations of others, but a faithful application of the resources one is blessed with. I hope they have learnt empathy; to care for others beyond themselves, even when it comes at a cost. I hope they have caught a glimpse of the wonder of God’s incredible creation and the immense value of each person within it. I hope they have learnt to be discerning and critical thinkers, equipped to sift through the plethora of ideas and worldviews they will be confronted with. Above all, I hope that they know that they are loved. By us, but even more so by a good and loving God.

An exam will never be able to test these lessons and understandings. Yet as our Year 12s navigate this tumultuous time of exams, and set sail towards new horizons and adventures yet unknown, this is what we hope and pray for. In a few short weeks we will be celebrating the students’ final moments at MECS with the Graduation, and shortly after that commencing Year 12 classes for 2017, ready to begin it all again.
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