Monday, 6 June 2016

Leaving School

So today I had my very last A Level exam, meaning I’ve officially left school. After 14 years of being in education saying that I have no more school is a pretty scary statement. I can honestly say that I have loved my school years. Yes, it wasn’t all easy but is there anything that ever is? It was definitely a rollercoaster – there were a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Thankfully, for me I feel that there were a lot more ups than downs and I am so sad to be leaving the place where I have spent the last 7 years. To think I’ll never again walk down those familiar corridors, see the familiar faces of teachers or classmates or put on my lovely *ahem* blue uniform every day makes me so sad, which I actually think is a good thing. It shows how much I enjoyed my school days.

When I think back to my first day of first year, it doesn't feel that long ago. I remember it so well. I was terrified! I was going from a year of 30 people in primary school to 180 in secondary school, so it was a huge change for me and only 7 other people from my primary school class were going to my new school. But I quickly settled in, made lots of friends and just absolutely loved it right from day one. It's crazy thinking that I went in there as an 11 year old and came out as 18 year old and I feel that my school has really had a huge impact on the type of person I've become.

When it came to leaving, I noticed there were 3 types of people within my year group. Those who were sad to leave, those who didn't mind and those who couldn't wait to get out of there. When I looked at who fit into each category, there was one common factor I noticed about most of the people who loved school and didn't want to leave. Most of them were the ones who were involved, who gave up their time for the school and were members of different clubs and groups within school. I was a member of all the school choirs and orchestras, mentored younger pupils, was a member of the debating club in Year 10, participated in the school music earlier this year, and when the school needed volunteers I always signed up when I could. I truly feel that with school the more you put in, the more you get out. By being a member of all these different things, I could meet more people and have the opportunity to pursue my hobbies within school, which made me enjoy it even more.

If I could pass on any words of wisdom to anyone who is still in school it would be just to get involved as much as possible. I don't mean joining everything going because there is no way you would have the time and energy! Instead find a healthy balance and go with it. You'll be amazed at how much it'll change your school experience. When I look back in years to come I know for a fact I won't think 'oh, remember that time I did that Maths test in Year 11', I'll instead remember the 7 Spring Concerts I played and sang in, the school musical, performing at the heats of BBC Radio Ulster's School Choir of the Year in March, the Spanish exchange I went on in 2013...

Another thing I would say to anyone still in school is to fully appreciate your teachers. They just want the best for you, even if that does means hours of homework! Everything they ask of you will benefit you in the end. Also, if you're struggling, don't be afraid to tell your teacher. They have been through education and will likely have a lot of teaching experience so they understand if you don't immediately get something! Sometimes they mightn't even know you're struggling if you don't tell them - they're only human, not some sort of robotic mind readers!

I was so lucky in that I went to a really good school with a really good team of staff. Every single teacher in that school cares about so much more than academia. They are the some of the kindest, most caring and smartest people I've come across. They really inspired me and showed me that when you work hard, anything is possible - something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I'm so grateful that I had so many amazing opportunities that came my way and made amazing friends that I know will be life-long friends.

Even if you find school hard, remember that every setback you receive, every not-very-nice person you meet, and every bad experience you have will make you a stronger person in the end. Just work hard, stay positive and do your best :)

- Caoimhe x

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