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Chloe Shorten: “To my daughter and the class of 2020: You’ve got this.”

A tribute to the students whose graduating year has been so highly disrupted, some of whom finally return to school today.

By Chloe Shorten

The Latest

A tribute to the students whose graduating year has been so highly disrupted, some of whom finally return to school today.

By Chloe Shorten

Dear Class of 2020,

If it were up to me and not to COVID I would hold a giant street parade in honour of every single one of you.

Few could be unaware of what you have done this year.

Not once in the last 100 years, has there been such disruption caused by a virus for our kids.

For so many of you it has been a true trial.

You have had to sacrifice the rites of passage that every generation of young adults before you were able to enjoy. These milestones that have created such vivid and lifelong memories for all before you – sports finals, school plays, musical concerts, muck up days, formals and debs, awards at assembly, hanging out at tuck shop, speech night and graduation. These are the bookmarks of that final year as children before entering the world as young adults.

I missed quite a bit of my last two months of Year 12 and I feel pangs even now when I hear friends reminisce.

I can’t imagine the pangs you will feel now and possibly into the future. This is no small thing.

My husband Bill taught me about a life test many years ago – the ‘but for’ test. That is – but for this person I would not be here. (Your parents and the midwife or doctor who delivered you start the list.)

It doesn’t bear thinking about where we would be but for all the professionals who have carried us on their backs through these tough times.

The coronavirus has shone a light on the good of so many. There are those who have risked much and contributed a great deal to our society – the doctors, nurses, psychologists, carers, cleaners, police, paramedics and teachers.

To me, you – the class of 2020 – are among the heroes of this pandemic.

In Victoria I have seen such true grit in the Year 12s. Most of whom finally went back to school today.

The ones who work from bed all day. The ones who struggle to even get out of it.

Those who babysit siblings while doing their schoolwork. The ones who are barely hanging in there. Those who hate school but stick at it for the pass mark.

The ones who are sick or manage chronic illness already making every day a grind.

The ones in love. The ones nursing a broken heart (over text or phone is a bad dumping). The ones stuck at home with fighting or worse and no escape. Kids looking after their parents. The introverts who have loved not having to be among a crowd. The brilliant ones on the spectrum who have never been happier.I take my hat off to you all.

In a few short weeks, exams are over. This may bring a lot of what has been lost home.

There will be the usual long wait for results. Some will struggle under local rules to have any kind of proper Schoolies celebration.

But you will have something no-one else will have.

You were the Class of 2020, that most bizarre and unwelcome year.

You got through it. You will have a pride in your hardiness, and a tight bond with one another. You will have a once in a generation understanding of what we have, what is  important and what’s just trash.

I admire each and every one of you – the way you have used anything to cope; mindfulness, yoga, self-care, loud music and Netflix to push through quite traumatic times. But If the struggle seems beyond you to manage for goodness sake reach out, and know, it will pass.

It really will pass.

And you will have tales and wisdom for your children and their children.

Your time is 2021 – less than 100 days away.  You will be forever changed and magnificent for it.

Well done, and good luck.

Lots of love