Hear From Some Of Our Year 11 Students...
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, SGGS Year 11 students have shared their thoughts and feelings via a series of blogs. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing excerpts from these written submissions, illustrating and exemplifying this unique and unprecedented time.
I’m writing this sitting in the beautiful sunshine on the lawn in my back garden, having just finished another chapter of Wolf Hall. Although these relaxed mornings are now the norm, during the early stages of lockdown, I found it harder to adjust to the excess time I had on my hands. At the beginning of March, my focus was principally on preparing myself for upcoming exams: both GCSEs in the Summer and an ATCL piano diploma recital at the beginning of April – in hindsight, a fairly intense combination and not necessarily my finest moment of planning! Nevertheless, I was determined. In a matter of days, everything had been cancelled and so I went from 60mph to 0mph, or at least that’s how it felt at the time.
Since March, I’ve fallen into a steady routine and found ways and means of filling my time. I started tutoring my grandparents in piano, one a complete beginner, the other more experienced. I find this really rewarding and it gives me built-in time every week to FaceTime them for a catch up. My sister, back from university where she is in her second year studying Primary Education, is proving useful for teaching tips. Having her around so much makes me realise how much I miss her (and her Disney trivia - seriously impressive and/or slightly concerning) when she’s not home. We try to make the most of being together as a family; so far we’ve played games (movie Pictionary and Cluedo), watched films (Ocean’s 11 - 13 in a pretty mammoth viewing-marathon) and had themed foodie nights (fajitas and margaritas – for everyone except me, I hasten to add - whilst blasting Spotify’s ‘Latinx Party Anthems’).
Probably the hardest thing about not actually sitting the exams is that they are now completely out of our control and we can’t do anything else to affect the outcome. For the most part, I try not to think about Results Day although naturally there are anxious moments – at the end of the day, I’ve done all I can and that’s going to have to be enough. My aim is to come back to SGGS Sixth Form in September to study French, German and History at A Level. I’ve been immersing myself as much as possible in those subjects through film, music and books (hence Wolf Hall). I’ve made a habit of dipping into Le Sel de la Vie by Françoise Héritier a little bit every day. I can also recommend the English edition, The Sweetness of Life, if you prefer, as it is a soothing reminder of all the little things we can and should appreciate, which I think many of us need in these challenging times.
It has been a massive change to go from preparing for imminent exams to effectively completing our secondary education over the course of two days. There is an irony that what we have been systematically working towards for the past five years is now out of our control, however I think it has given me a clearer perspective; showing me how something seen as an inevitable rite of passage is still subject to unpredictable circumstance. Obviously, GCSEs are far from the only thing affected, but to me this has been the most pre-eminent reminder of how quickly ‘normality’ can change.
I now have more time to read- whether it’s around my chosen subjects or just for pleasure, and I am trying to improve my Spanish. I’m watching a lot more online; at the moment I’m loving ‘Killing Eve’ and ‘Normal People’. The highlight of my days would either be getting to go outside for daily exercise and being able to talk to my friends either online or by having letters arrive in the post. Lockdown has definitely made me realise how grateful I am to be so easily connected with friends and, although I miss the things we used to be able to do together, we will appreciate them more once life begins to return to some sort of normal.
Whilst results day won’t be as we had imagined, it’s now something that I’m looking forward to for different reasons: meeting friends that I haven’t seen in real life for months, getting our Leavers’ hoodies and getting together as a year group one last time.
Lockdown is a strange experience and very different from everyday life, however it hasn’t been as bad as I anticipated. Learning virtually has been quite an interesting thing to do and having something to do during every 50-minute period has helped to keep a good structure to the day. Having the time to read, relax, or do new things, has been both good and bad; I’m not missing the constant thought that exams are approaching, but not having them to work towards has been weird.
During isolation I have missed my friends and family, but when we are out on our daily exercise we’ve found so many new places that we had no idea were nearby and even passed some friends and a few teachers (at a safe distance of course!) The Thursday evening ‘clap for key workers’ has been great to participate in as well and we’ve been enjoying events online with friends, which makes us still feel close.
Results Day, Sixth Form, and life going back to ‘normal’ all seem a long way off, and isolation has given me time to really consider what I’m going to do. Although going back as a sixth former feels daunting, it’s also quite exciting as I’m looking forward to focusing on the subjects I enjoy.
As I am in Year 11, I have more time to try and fill. I am trying out many new skills, including teaching myself the guitar and cooking for my family once a week. Walking my dogs around the fields also helps me clear my head and get out of the house for some exercise. I am missing schoolwork and I was excited for the ‘Step Into Sixth Form’ program. I am also using online resources, such as Zoom, to keep up to date with all of my extra-curricular activities.
I think it is super-important to stay in touch with friends and family online. I try to FaceTime my friends every day and talk to my family every week. Keeping in contact makes sure that you stay connected with the people in your life even when you cannot see them in person.
It’s an odd feeling knowing that the next time I go to school, I might be a sixth former. The school did a wonderful job to give us a last-minute parting ceremony on the final day of school, but it hasn’t quite hit me yet that I could now be in Year 12. I am doing my best to prepare myself for Sixth Form, keeping up to date with my current knowledge and readying myself for the next phase of my education!