Speaking to some of our Year 12s on the weekend, I noticed a variety of attitudes, with only about 2 weeks left before the Moment of Truth.
Some students seemed pretty relaxed – either they know they’ve got it in the bag, or they don’t care, or they’re pretty good actors. Others though, were definitely showing the signs of beginning to crack up. So I thought this time I might see if I couldn’t bring a little cheer into this momentous period of their lives. If you’ve already been through all this, please let your younger fellows know that there IS indeed life after the HSC…
Now some of you may be aware (I don’t mention it that often) that I very strongly believe in that profound Biblical doctrine that is best summed in these words:
EXAMS ARE FUN
You will immediately recognise that my main Biblical foundation for this dogma is James 1:2
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials
Now some have very foolishly doubted the link between this verse and the HSC, but it seems as clear as the nose on my face to me (please disregard the times when there is a pimple on my nose and it is anything but clear). “Trials”, as you all know, are the last set of exams Year 12 students do before sitting their major Final Exams. That St James, back in the First Century AD, was aware of this is made very obvious if we consider some more verses from his Epistle. For example:
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: (1:1) is a very obvious reference to the HSC, being a test for Year “twleve”, which is conducted all over the state, with some students even sitting the exam at overseas centres – hence, scattered abroad. Later, he writes:
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience(1:3)
Ahhhh. What is it now that produces patience? “testing”!!! How much plainer can he make it? Clearly this word, “testing” is to be identified with exam centres, and supervisors, and exam papers – all that stuff we associate with the word. And there’s more:
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. (1:9-11)
This is obviously a reference to the total worthlessness of your HSC mark once you have left school. Employers don’t care too much about it, and even universities are now steering away from using it as the criterion for choosing their students, preferring instead to depend on more accurate measures like UMAT (= Unrelenting Mental Agony and Torture) exams or interviews. Yes, the richest of UAIs will quickly fade away like a beautiful flower burned by the hot noonday sun of competition in the real world. Isn’t that a comforting thought!
Why, then, I hear you ask, must we suffer this pain? What’s the point?
Well, the point is actually more: the points. Here are my reasons for hanging on, doing your very best until the end, and diving over the line as hard as you can:
1. For many of you, your UAI will decide your future. Sorry. That’s life.
2. You might surprise and amaze yourself with what you can actually do if you really have to. Believe it or not, what you have to learn for the HSC is pretty measly compared with what you are going to learn at Uni, TAFE or work. The only thing that makes it seem so hard is the pressure of what’s riding on it. Take that away, and you could do it with one hand tied behind your back, with a blindfild on, and while rubbing your tummy and patting your head whilst all the time whistling “Bananas in Pyjamas” in Croatian. (please don’t comment on that sentence. It makes no sense to me, either).
3. You will learn a lot more than calculus and chemistry. You will actually develop really useful things like character, inner strength, faith, patience, calmness under pressure, stamina, self-confidence, resilience and much more. Some of the most important lessons you learn in Years 11 & 12 DON’T appear on your certificate.
4. You will enjoy your holidays an awful lot more if you don’t have a miserable dark cloud hanging over your head and following you wherever you go, with the words “You didn’t try very hard, did you?” stamped across it. It can really take the fun out of everything you do. Including sleep.
5. Many others have trod this path and run this race before you. They stuck it out to the very end – are you gonna let them get away with thinking they’re better than you??!!??
6. God loves you, no matter what.
7. We love you, no matter what.
Is that enough? I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the HSC Liturgy this Saturday 6th October 8:30-10:30an, followed by our traditional pre-exam HSC breakfast (sort of like the Grand Final Breakfast, hey?). The Fathers will be there to offer you their words of encouragement and support (and take any last minute confessions!) and to resuscitate anyone who conks out.
The days to come won’t be easy:
But there’s nothing to prevent them from being enjoyable…
By the way, for a little light entertainment, you might enjoy the following:
But don’t spend too much time watching – you’ve got work to do!!!