Schoolies as a ‘Rite of Passage’

In November 2000 I graduated from high school. At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as…

In November 2000 I graduated from high school.

At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as you moved into adult life.

For me, that experience was a big moment I’ll always remember. A point of transition – a rite of passage.

Fast forward 20 years and our 2020 high school graduates are facing a very different rite of passage.

COVID-19 has limited numbers for events and gatherings, and is already influencing end-of-school processions with bans now in place for the traditional mass schoolies events on the Gold Coast.

While some think that Gold Coast schoolies events are a horrible ‘rite of passage’ for our high school graduates, the fact is that schoolies options available to previous cohorts have been taken away from the class of 2020. What will this mean?

Rites of passage have changed through the generations – but all support the same general premise: an event or ceremony to mark an important transition in someone’s life.

For Gen X and Gen Y some rites of passage included owning a first car, leaving home and getting your first job. For Gen Z and Millenials, who are staying home longer and studying/working simultaneously, there are fewer points that we can label as ‘rites of passage’.

This makes the milestone of finishing school an even more important marker for this generation.

If you’re a parent or mentor of someone finishing high school this year, here are some things I think are really important to keep in mind.

1. Talk talk talk!

Talk about the year – and ask them what are some of the symbolic markers they feel they have missed out on because of COVID-19. What are some creative ways they can experience these?

2. Help them to share their feelings

It’s okay to be disappointed – but allowing feelings to stay bottled up can have really negative consequences. Encouraging your teen to share what they are going through is vital to help them have a positive experience as they approach this key transition in life.

3. Celebrate with them!

Celebrate the successes of this year, and of the last few months of their schooling journey. Focus on the ‘lasts’ – celebrate when they finish their final assignment, final exam, etc. Help them plan a safe schoolies celebration with the friends they have valued through their schooling journey.

Regardless of the changes COVID-19 has had on our society, helping our Year 12 students to find positivity in the midst of all the things they have missed out on is key. Let’s give them the joy-filled rite of passage they deserve!

The good news for SU-Schoolies Sunny Coast is we have a COVID Safe Plan for our event, which we’ve developed in conjunction with Alex Park Conference Centre. This will allow us to proceed under the appropriate Industry Action Plan.

While this plan includes a cap on participants and restrictions on some activities, rest assured we are putting together a program that will allow you to still have the time of your life as you celebrate finishing your 12 years of schooling with your peers.

www.su-schoolies.com

 

About the author…

Beavs is a former High School Maths and Christian Education Teacher who has been working and volunteering with SU QLD Camps for almost 20 years. As Camps Specialist he supports volunteers and chaplains run camps and community outreach events throughout Queensland, reaching over 4500 young people. Beavs is married with 3 children, and loves coffee and watching sport.

Posted: 16/09/2020

You laid the path for Tim’s faith journey

Finishing school is the start of many big changes in a teen’s life. There’s a new level of independence, study and work decisions to be made, as well as…

Finishing school is the start of many big changes in a teen’s life. There’s a new level of independence, study and work decisions to be made, as well as the choice to leave home or not. With all this going on – faith is often left behind.

In fact, one recent study found 66 per cent of teenagers who regularly attend church will stop coming for at least one year between the ages of 18 and 22*. Many never return.

For Gympie teen Tim, this could have been his story.

“I wasn’t good at reading the Bible and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to live my faith out in the real world after school,” Tim says.

“Schoolies was a stepping stone in my faith journey to where I am now. I learnt how important it was to make time for Jesus – to prioritise him and not to be ashamed of that.”

Tim says he found comfort in being able to talk about his faith openly in a safe environment.

“At SU-Schoolies, the leaders were willing to sit down and talk about those hard questions, and at such a key point in my life that was critical.”

Tim came with his friends from Gympie. The safe environment helped them all to grow deeper in their faith.

“I had some mates from Gympie in my small group. SU-Schoolies changed their lives as much as it did mine – really grounded our faith well for the next stage of our lives,” Tim says.

Tim was so impacted by SU-Schoolies he decided to come back as a leader.

“It’s loads of fun and we party like crazy! It’s not like sitting around singing kumbaya with the schoolies the whole time,” Tim says.

“Being a leader is nerve­wracking. You’re an influence on others, but having that responsibility really made me want to be a better influence on the boys in my group. It made me want to live more like Jesus did.”

Jonathan Chew, Director of SU­-Schoolies Sunny Coast, said he found being a leader rewarding and highly recommends it to anyone who wants to develop leadership skills.

“Leading on SU-Schoolies is a great way to find out how you tick,” Jonathan says.

“You learn lots about how you communicate and work with others. It’s a great way to learn key skills that can be used in any leadership or ministry role.”

SU-Schoolies registrations are open now, but spaces are limited! If you know someone graduating in 2020 or 2021, they can register at su-schoolies.com

*Research conducted by Lifeway Research: http://lifewayresearch.com/wp-contenVuploads/2019/01/Young-Adult-Church-Dropout-Report-2017.pdf 

Posted: 19/05/2020

You helped Daniel celebrate schoolies

Finishing school is a key milestone for a young person that should be celebrated. But for teenagers with disabilities, this is not always possible. Thanks to your support, NSW…

Finishing school is a key milestone for a young person that should be celebrated. But for teenagers with disabilities, this is not always possible.

Thanks to your support, NSW mum Kathie was able to send her son Daniel to SU-Schoolies Whitsundays. Spoiler alert: he had the time of his life!

For many parents who have a child with Down Syndrome, the thought of sending them on a week away would cause some serious nerves.

“Parents of kids with disabilities often ask questions like: ‘Is anyone going to understand my child?’ or ‘Is anyone going to support them?’,” Kathie says.

“Children with disabilities can have limited life experiences. Most of the time they really want to be involved in groups and social circles, but don’t have the ability to initiate conversations.”

But for Kathie, she knew her son was in good hands with Scripture Union. In fact, he’s been an SU camper since Grade 7. When she discovered Queensland’s SU­Schoolies program, she signed Daniel up on the spot.

“In our culture, ‘schoolies’ has become almost a rite of passage,” Kathie says.

“It was such a blessing to know SU QLD organised everything and had responsible adult leaders supervising the event.

“Without SU-Schoolies, Daniel wouldn’t have been able to experience that ‘rite of passage’. Now he can say, ‘Yeah I went on schoolies’ .”

With some help from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS}, Kathie sponsored two of Daniel’s friends – Matt and Connor – to come along on SU-Schoolies Whitsundays with him. Connor said the week was a blast.

“There wasn’t really one part that was my favourite. I liked all of it,” Connor recalls.

“Activities were prepared and planned, but there was still enough free room and we
were treated like adults – not kids.

“He [Daniel] really enjoyed it. He doesn’t talk a lot, but he was smiling a lot and definitely had a great time.”

Event Director Jane Moe said SU­Schoolies is all about helping all schoolies enjoy the ‘week of their life’.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a disability or if you don’t have anyone coming with you,” Jane says.

“You’ve finished 12 years of school – we think that’s worth celebrating and we’re gonna help you do just that!”

Kathie says SU-Schoolies was a great way to finish her son’s journey as a SU camper.

“I’m so glad that Daniel is going to be able to look back in 30 or 40 years and remember what he did on schoolies. Knowing that is such a blessing.”

Spaces are available for SU-Schoolies events in 2020! For more information, visit su-schoolies.com

Posted: 18/02/2020

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