Poppy Kane is a sixth year pupil about to receive her Leaving Cert results like thousands of others today. She shares her thoughts on the last six months.
IT IS SEPTEMBER. A whole season has passed since life last seemed normal. At one point, it seemed like we’d never get here and yet, here we are, wondering where the time went.
People have gone back to work. Kids have gone back to school. 61,000 of us now exist in a sort of limbo, no longer able to claim the title of sixth years, but yet the people we thought we’d be in September are not yet in our grasp.
We await our calculated grades in the same way we awaited the end of lockdown; anxious, unknowing and with little control over what’s to come. Our fates seem to be signed and sealed by everyone but ourselves.
Will the sense of achievement be diminished by our lack of involvement in our results? Or do we deserve the sigh of relief and pat on the back, simply for staying sane through the uncertainty of these last few months?
Disconnected from our teachers so suddenly and all at once, I can imagine it’s hard for all of us to gauge what today has in store for us. This system didn’t suit everyone, nor will the results, I’m sure, and while our future may seem daunting and impossible to navigate, so did the past six months, yet somehow we got through it, as we will this.
Days after sitting our Junior Certificate, those that were disappointed were assured these results “wouldn’t matter in a few years” and that our Leaving Cert is what would stand to us.
Now, we’ve been told, in contradiction to what we’ve known for years, that our results from almost three years ago may aid in determining whether we get the futures we’ve planned for.
After months of exploring every option we found remotely interesting to add to our CAO, and guiding ourselves through last-minute jitters, our hopes for the future were submitted in one click.
Personally, I found it extremely anti-climatic, and now as I wait for my results, I find it hard to think about them with the same level of excitement I would have felt months ago.
With such uncertainty and the long-drawn-out decision on our Leaving Cert, at this point, I find the whole subject exhausting. Some days it’s hard to not worry about a future we have so little control over, and others, it’s easier to just accept whatever will be, will be.
At this point, I feel I’m awaiting closure, not only to my secondary school years but also to this moment in time of such confusion and irresolution. Sitting here, in anticipation of a few numbers, what I hope for most is something that’s been lacking for months now; clarity.
An unprecedented year
For me and for many, ‘lockdown’ proved challenging at the best of times. Personally, I found it hard to find the motivation to do anything as days blurred into one. Each passing day signified the loss of something new, and coming to terms with the nothingness of April and May was just short of onerous.
The easing of restrictions turned from a seemingly empty promise to a much-needed light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Communities so united in a joint purpose of safety, tiptoed around each other through supermarkets and barren parks, in fear of getting too close, while also fearing the extent of the distance placed between them.
I remember meeting my friends for the first time in almost three months. We got emotional as our eyes adjusted to the sight of each other in person, having only existed as pixelated versions of ourselves for each other for so long. We each reached for a group hug out of instinct, only for it to be torn apart, before it began, by the echo of my mother’s voice as she reminded us to social distance.
It rained that Monday, but even that couldn’t dampen the feeling of being together again, as we sat in my back garden, grateful to be back together, and sad for the months we had lost.
Being sixth years at the time, we wondered if the fates of some of the rites of passage that came with our last year of school; our graduation, our debs etc.
We, the Class of 2020
Reflecting on some of our last days before leaving school, it became hard to relive some of the memories which seem almost impossible in today’s world. We had a lot planned for the last eleven weeks of school, and from the time it took to walk from one class to the next on 12 March, those opportunities disappeared in front of us.
Seeming trivial in contrast to the worldwide losses faced this year, we couldn’t allow ourselves to focus on ‘what could have been’, and instead shifted our focus to what we had. Each other.
In saying this, I found it hard to suppress the feeling of deflation, and a subsequent twinge of anger, felt upon realising The Clifden Golf Dinner, coined “golfgate”, took place on the day of my already-postponed, socially distanced graduation on 19 August.
With the six o’clock news the evening before informing us of the latest restrictions, came the realisation our graduation would yet again not go ahead. As disappointing as it was, we understood it was necessary for everyone’s safety.
Generally, graduations are known to be heart-rending, as they signify the splitting up of a group who have grown to be like family over the course of six years. For us, the Class of 2020, it was different.
Our year was ungraciously torn apart six months ago, with no warning and no time to say goodbye.
As a result of this, although unimportant to some, our graduation would have served as a reunion, a closing of a chapter of our lives. For now, that chapter remains open; dog-eared and indefinitely.
We felt that loss while former and present members of parliament dined together, oblivious. It felt like salt in a wound for me.
I cannot imagine how the thousands of people affected by and fighting against the virus must also have felt that day. Some people, it seems, need reminding that some things are just more important.
No news is bad news
Support The Journal
Your contributions will help us continue
to deliver the stories that are important to you
Support us now
For me, the last six months can be summed up by a collection of moments; highs and lows. The slow-burning high of watching ‘the numbers’ fall in the evening, and the harrowing low of the spikes when they returned.
The tear-stirring high of seeing our friends again, followed by the deafening silence in place of an embrace. The deceiving high of a return to normality and the sobering low of it being pulled out from under us again, weeks later.
The high of the feeling of togetherness as we promised to protect one another and the numbing days spent alone keeping that promise.
For now, the wait goes on, and so does the hope.
Poppy Kane is a sixth year student at Rockwell College in County Tipperary and lives with her family in Clonmel.