There’s been plenty written about the unique challenges faced by this year’s graduating Queensland seniors.

But through all the twists and turns of 2020 – adapting to a brand new assessment system and the disruptions caused by a global pandemic – the Class of 2020 has remained focused and determined.

Their graduation is a triumph – due in no small part to their own tenacity and resilience, but also due to the love and encouragement of parents and teachers, who have been cheering them on from the sidelines all year.

Support ‘through thick and thin’

Independent Schools Queensland and the Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network invited Year 12 students from Queensland’s independent school sector to share their reflections on their significant final year as part of a special feature to mark the milestone.

It’s little surprise that gratitude to their biggest supporters – their families and teachers – was a common feature of the students’ first-hand accounts.

“Despite every downfall of 2020, every time I was feeling down or uninterested, every time I forgot to do my work or clean my room – through thick and thin you all stuck by me and helped me,” Fraser Coast Anglican College student and aspiring artist Hannah Stanton wrote.

“Thank you so much.”

‘Without mum I wouldn’t be who I am’

Freshwater Christian College student Pearl Perry, who plans to study Veterinary Science at university and dreams of becoming an inspirational speaker, says 2020 has taught her and her peers the important life skill of gratitude.

“We all went through periods of self-pity and wishing for a better year (but) the trials made me realise how incredibly blessed I actually am,” Perry says.

Perry lost all her hair to the auto-immune disease Alopecia when she was seven and in addition to her tertiary plans, dreams of becoming an inspirational speaker for other young girls with the condition.

She says her mother “poured her whole heart and soul” into raising her and her two siblings.

“There aren’t enough words to describe the amount of gratitude I have towards my mother and everything she’s done for me. She has supported me through 2020 like she has supported me through every other year, by constantly loving me and encouraging me to do my best.

“Without her this year would have been a lot harder.”

Inspiring teachers, loving parents

Fatima Osman from the Islamic College of Brisbane, who has aspirations in the Allied Health field said staying motivated during Term 2’s online learning had been a challenge, but had resulted in her becoming self-motivated.

“I am so thankful for having teachers who definitely went that extra mile to ensure I always reached my full potential,” she said.

“Thank you, Mum and Dad, for supporting me and always making me feel loved.”

Mum and Dad ‘always there’

Brisbane Grammar School boarder Kieron Saunders found himself back in his home town of Cooktown during 2020’s home learning period and was grateful for how his parents “tried their hardest to create a great learning environment and reduce distractions”.

He has his sights set on a career as a coder and game developer.

“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the results I have if not for their constant support and care,” he says.

Freedom and indepenence

The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James Year 12 student Saskia Logan is grateful to her parents for giving her the freedom to chart her own future.

“My parents gave me the best kind of support during 2020. They gave me the freedom, time and space to let me pursue my endeavours on my own terms and left me to my own devices,” she says.

“This independence allowed me to dip my toes into all kinds of avenues, whilst taking responsibility for my own choices and learning. However, any time I needed advice, they would always be there for me and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Home stay parents also played a crucial role for international students

For Duc Nam Nguyen, an international student studying at John Paul College, the disruptive year “fortified” his relationship with his homestay family.

“Being away from family is difficult for any student, let alone one undertaking the grand task of completing Year 12 studies,” Nguyen wrote, “(but) I was fortunate to have an amazing homestay family behind me to support me,” Nguyen wrote.

“The reassurance they would provide me when I felt like giving up helped me to stay on task. Sometimes it’s the small connections and conversations which can have the biggest impact.”

Read more inspiring stories from the Class of 2020

Read the students’ accounts in full on the Independent Schools Queensland website.