The end of High School

by Georgia Shivnan, Year 13 Student Kaipara College

The best-kept secret about your final year of high school is that no one else knows what  they’re doing either. I remember staring, in wonderstruck awe, at the Year 13s when I  started high school, thinking they had their lives figured out. The question, “so, what are  you doing next year?” has gradually integrated into every conversation, and I find myself as both its recipient and inquirer. In response, there is generally a long pause, (slightly
strained) laughter, or blatant admissions of “I don’t know.” As we’ve ascended through the years at Kaipara College, we swear the Year 9s keep getting smaller (because how could we possibly be getting bigger?), and it has dawned on us that the vast majority of Year 13s don’t have it all figured out.
A countdown to the date of our senior academic prize giving – and of the end of my time at high school – has been running steadily since February, when the realisation that high school doesn’t actually last forever struck me. I would arrive at school every morning and excitedly announce how many days I had left.
“246 days until I never have to sit in these classrooms again!” or “213 days until the last time I have to wear this uniform!” And then, at some point along the way, my declarations got fluffy corners, becoming “175 days until I never get to sit in these classrooms again” and “159 days until the last time I get to wear this uniform.”
Since then, life has been on fast-forward, rolling past like a cassette tape – a blur of mock exams, social events, leadership meetings, leavers forms, 11:59 pm deadlines, and the general chaos that unfolds during the sunset of your time at high school. A year of lasts. Our last paper timetable. The last time we pin our collection of badges onto our uniform. Our last time sitting in our favourite class. All of it counting down to what we’ve all been rushing towards for half a decade: graduation.
And from what I’ve heard, life only gets faster. Some day – sooner than we think – we’ll bump into someone we used to sit next to every day in high school as we graze the aisles of our local supermarket, pushing prams with smile lines around our eyes.
We’ll discuss our corporate jobs and laugh about how we thought we knew everything at seventeen, while our eldest hangs impatiently off our sleeve.
In his poem Prayer for the Mutilated World, Sam Sax writes beautifully about what happens when life as we know it dissipates.
And while ‘the end of the world’ might be a phrase too dramatic to describe the end of high school, this is the end of an era of our lives, and so this poem’s final line seems fitting nonetheless: What will be left after we’ve left; I dare not consider it. Instead, dance
with me a moment late in this last extinction; that you’re reading this must be enough.

Georgia's Year 9 form class

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