Exams are over and there’s no more school so what’s next? Is it just celebrations or does the community have a continuing role?
Schools are focusing on organised celebrations. Police, emergency and social and community services provide information on the dangers of alcohol and drugs and parents urge their children to be responsible and lookout for mates.
Even the media appears to be making less use of the phrase ‘muck-up-day’ so hopefully these messages are being heeded.
Nobody wants any accidents or bad behaviour but considering thousands of students and the many end-of-year farewells, the number that could go wrong is small. One accident, bad behaviour or property damage is distressing but the vast majority of schools and final year students enjoy happy and memorable rites of passage.
Rites of passage are not new.
Independent schools prepare to ensure that the last week of the year is structured with parents and students being informed about the program and schools’ expectations.
Many follow the same format each year to establish a tradition and to reduce the opportunity for out-of-hand creativity by students. Often the Year 11 students take part as observers so they know exactly what to expect the next year.
In this way, schools are treating departing students as young adults and individuals, supporting a positive self-image to encourage responsible behaviour and individualism and instil personal and community values.
Schools build on the role of parents who teach their children good manners and community respect. Working together, schools and parents are supporting the adults of tomorrow so that they can understand and embrace the attributes of civil society.
At the same time we acknowledge that many young people face social, emotional and health challenges sparked by materialism, pressure to achieve and perfectionism. Adults can play a part in the rite of passage by ensuring young people are confident about discussing their own responses to these issues.
They were students yesterday, today we need to nurture their confidence and optimism so that they can fulfil their role in an Australia of high personal and community standards.