Senior School Report
June 10, 2022
by Director of the Senior School, Mr Hamish McCrum
Our Year 10s and 11s are currently doing exams and Year 12s will have a significant number of SACs to do over these next few weeks. Assessments can be a stressful time. It is OK and even a bit normal to feel stressed and anxious as you go through this process. When you come out the other side you will feel that bit stronger for having taken the journey. It is a time to consolidate and even improve your understanding of content taught during the semester. We all have potential for growth, and every time we study we will improve our thinking skills. If we do this consistently the growth becomes noticeable. We don’t just get better marks, we become a bit smarter. A letter was emailed to parents of Year 10s and 11s this week outlining student expectations for the exam period and hints for studying effectively for exams. Students are reminded that classes for Semester Two will commence in the week between exams and the holidays: they need to be here. Some advance notice; our Unit 3/4 practice exams will take place in the first week of our Term 3 holidays (September 12 – 16) It important that any students doing scored 3/4 Studies are present for these.
We are hearing much in the media at present about the concerning levels of mental health in our society, attributed to COVID and the shutdowns of the past two years. This is quite real for adults and for students. All schools including ours are seeing this manifest in a number of ways: student’s decreasing attendance, students discontinuing their studies, and a general increase in students accessing counsellors and psychologists internally and externally. This is the case for us and for most if not all other schools and is not vastly different to problems in adult sections of our communities. My best guess as to why this has occurred could be categorized as things caused by COVID and shutdowns and things we did in lockdowns. Things to some extent out of our control were the stress caused by the threat or actual illness or death to those we cared about and the missing out on face-to-face social contact and activities such as playing sport. We are social beings, we need to interact and we need to belong. Things within our control were the activities we increased: for some these included e-cigarettes, computer gaming, gambling, pornography or just too much Tik-Tok; these are all designed to be addictive and anxiety and depression tend to follow addiction.
To this end I would suggest it is important that we try to control what we can control. In terms of mental health, we need to get out and socialise face to face in healthy ways. We encourage all our students to belong to a few groups, play some school and club footy, get involved in one of the music bands, chess club, drama club, join our Vinnies group, SAGERS, play some badminton, form your own homework club, etc. Even by taking pride in being a Paddy Boy gives a sense of belonging which can be helpful. Being involved is a very good start. Finding ways to do worthwhile things for other people is also a way to grow our own mental health and sense of self-worth. Get outside and into the elements for some time each week, even when the weather is as bad as it is now. Another often neglected aspect is the amount and quality of our sleep, in fact, sleep and anxiety can affect each other. Being active enough through the day so as to turn off fight and flight responses if stressed might be useful if you are having trouble sleeping. Being regular with the time you go to bed and get up in the morning is key. This has implications for our resilience levels (for all of us, not just those with debilitating anxiety). We all need to nurture and grow our mental health if we are going to thrive and be better able to assist those around us.
The quality and amount of our sleep also has an impact on more than our mental health. This week our Year 10s and 11s watched (suffered through) part of a Ted Talk by Matt Walker titled “Sleep is your Superpower”. It can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MuIMqhT8DM or by putting the above description into Youtube. This brief talk described how the amount of sleep effects: testosterone levels, effectiveness of our immune systems, rates of heart disease, cancer rates and development of dementia. He also talked about the importance of sleep before and after you try to learn something, so very relevant for the students currently studying for exams. It was at least as scary for the adults in the room as for the students. I recommend you view it and hopefully you will be encouraged to prioritize sleep more highly than you do now.
Enjoy the long weekend and may God Bless your families.