Getting back to school

Mount Lilydale Mercy College captains Melinda Virgona and Sam Green were excited to get back to school and be around their classmates for their final weeks. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Mikayla van Loon

After weeks of remote learning, Year 12 students have finally returned to campuses across metropolitan Melbourne to spend their last few weeks of school life with their friends and teachers before heading into exams.

For Year 12 students at Mount Lilydale Mercy College (MLMC), getting back to onsite learning on Wednesday 6 October was not only about having face to face contact but also about reviving their motivation.

School captains Melinda Virgona and Sam Green said had the lockdown only been a couple of weeks, they think their fellow classmates would have coped better but when it kept getting extended, that’s when motivation teetered off.

“I felt like I was really motivated through last year’s lockdown and early this year as well. I was so productive and everything and happy with where I was at, unlike a lot of other people in our year level,” Sam said.

“But even myself towards the end of lockdown was just losing all motivation and not being able to complete any tasks properly or anything.”

These Year 12 students have had a rough two years completing their final and most important years of schooling at home.

As most high school graduates would say, the final year of school is one of the most challenging but fun years to go through and Sam and Melinda said they do feel like they have missed out on some of those milestones that Year 12 offers.

“It’s nice to be back and I’m really happy that we even just get these few weeks to make up for it somehow,” Melinda said.

“Our teachers are already trying to make things as fun as possible. We had macaroons this morning and our teacher brought cake to class, so it’s just nice that we’re all back together.”

MLMC’s Year 12 coordinator Andrew Leaumont said the feeling among staff and students is really positive and everyone is pleased to be back at school.

“We’re very proud of them, not just myself but all the staff here at the college, they’ve done a fantastic job. It was great to see them yesterday and today and it’s something that we have certainly been looking forward to,” Mr Leaumont said.

Keeping students in the routine of school was important for MLMC and that’s why the structure of classes remained in place.

“Just to keep that routine and the expectations and to try and keep them in those habits and not fall into bad habits of sleeping in, to keep them lesson by lesson, focusing on it like they were at school, so trying to keep that routine as normal as possible in a really difficult situation,” Mr Leaumont said.

Year 12 students have two weeks of classes before they head into exams and while normally this time would be spent dedicated to revision, Mr Leaumont said it will also be about figuring out what students still need to cover.

“This time of year, it’s usually all about revision but normally, you will have seen them for the entire year so you’d have a little bit more, I suppose, understanding of where revision needs to be, whereas now it might be going back and trying to fill in a few gaps as well as revision.”

Melinda said being back on campus has made her and her classmates more focused on their learning because being around their peers and teachers makes it that much easier to do the work.

Both Sam and Mr Leaumont agreed that the Year 12s will most likely use the school facilities to their full potential while studying for exams to break up the mundane feeling of being at home.

“I think those last couple of weeks, or even the week of exams, where students have the option to come into school and study they might be more inclined to do that, to focus on their learning rather than staying at home,” Sam said.

“Last year, and what I’d imagine this year as well, they will prefer to get up in the morning, put their uniform on, come to school and study by themselves, with their peers and seek out their teachers,” Mr Leaumont said.

But being back on campus, around their friends, with the support of their teachers, has made this Year 12 cohort grateful for the ability to learn and what going to school provides.

“It kind of just makes us grateful for school and being able to go to school and everything, rather than being stuck at home trying to learn.”