In this article, we’re chatting with an ATAR Notes member who graduated from high school a few years ago. If you're preparing for university, you might like to check out these university resources!


Year 12 in general can be pretty strange emotionally, marking the end of more than a decade of formal education. How did you manage those thoughts throughout the year?

I remember having really weird thoughts even at the start of Year 10, starting to think about the end of high school and how bizarre the whole thing was going to be. I think that’s when those thoughts started to ruminate, and it was a slow burn after that point haha. In Year 11, we transitioned into our senior school jumpers, and then in Year 12 we had bomber jackets. Stuff like this was interesting to reflect on, because I could remember starting high school as a literal twelve-year-old, sitting at whole school assemblies and thinking, “wow – that guy has a BEARD – he must be OLD”.

For the most part, though, I think I was pretty focused on just doing well, and enjoying Year 12 for what it was. There are obvious benefits of being in the senior school. Perhaps the biggest one for me, I think, was being able to develop stronger relationships with my teachers – I found they treated me more as an adult as they had previously (understandably). I enjoyed feeling more actively involved in the school community and feeling a greater sense of ownership, so the whole “I’m about to leave high school” sort of thing didn’t really hit me until later on in the year.


Walking out of your final classes – were they mostly happy or sad experiences for you?

Honestly, I’m not sure either of those words really play out the situation appropriately. Having my last ever class for different subjects one by one (and, as a result, last ever classes with certain friends etc.), was quite surreal. “I’m never going to an English class again” – stuff like that was genuinely whacky to think about. But I don’t think I was particularly happy or particularly sad about it all – I just tried to roll with the punches.

final high school


Did your school have any traditions to celebrate the leaving Year 12 cohort?

We had a final assembly where the school captains made speeches, and the entire Year 12 cohort walked out of the assembly hall together to appropriately celebratory music. We also had a “celebration day” (strictly not muck-up day, haha), where activities had been organised and we just wore whatever to school. I actually think my school hit a good balance of celebrating the cohort and marking the occasion for what it was, without going way overboard and letting students run riot. I’ve honestly never understood the desire to harm school grounds and stuff!


How about formal? Valedictory?

We did have a Year 12 formal – from memory it was a little earlier in the year. My memories of the night are pretty sparse – it must have been quite uneventful. But I’m sure it was nice enough, and we had awards for like, “most likely to be a millionaire” and stuff like that. We had valedictory, too, but I’m not sure if all schools have this. We actually had this before our exams, so it was sort of a weird time (people couldn’t really say stuff like “congrats for finishing!”, because we hadn’t finished yet).


Speaking of exams, what was it like walking out of your last exam ever, and knowing it was all over?

I’ve heard people say they’ve felt like they were walking on clouds before – I think this is probably the closest I’ve been to that feeling. I probably would have felt a little differently had my exams been in a different order. One exam in particular I was pretty upset about, and had I finished with that one, I think the wait until ATAR release would have been quite sombre. But I managed to finish on a decent note, and honestly, I was just relieved.

final high school

High school is a really long time – school in general is even longer. To walk out of that room, hear the birds chirp (not a cliché – it was a lovely day), and know there was nothing more I could do – that was a genuinely good feeling.


Do you have any regrets about the end of your high school life? Any advice for current Year 11/12 students reading this?

No huge regrets, but in hindsight, I think I would have taken more photos. I have basically none, and that seems a bit of a shame for what is a pretty big landmark period of my life. I’ve honestly not seen quite a lot of the people from my year since my final exams, too, so it’d be nice to have some sort of record of the experiences we shared.