Class of 2020. An essay by Aoife Maguire

The sands keep shifting for the class of 2020; the Leaving Cert will begin on June 3rd, wait no that will be July 29th, scrap that, it’s actually not happening… Course work is due in for some subjects in mid April, apologies that’s now changed to the end of July, newsflash, in fact we’re going to need it for the 12th of May! Rest assured your mock results don’t matter, sorry guys, we are going to need to take them into consideration after all…
At this time of huge transition in their lives, and when there is so much inherent uncertainty, at least a timetable of events – last day of school, graduation, Leaving Cert – gave the students some structure to help them navigate these already tricky months. Class of 2020 has been robbed of these things.

I know this is no one’s fault. I know there is no good solution to the current Leaving Cert conundrum. However the parent in me really wants to wave a magic wand and make it all better. And I can’t. But I can do this…

I can say a few words…

So, as a teacher myself, I want to say to our secondary school teachers; firstly, I don’t envy you and the task you must now carry out. I can’t imagine how difficult this next week will be. And secondly and more importantly, heartfelt thanks. Thank you for turning up for the kids these last few months. Thank you for checking in and showing them you care. And of course thank you for everything you have done for them over these last six years. Please note too, that owing to these extremely odd circumstances I am in fact scared to say a simple “thank you” right now. I worry that you might feel I’m trying to win favour. Consequently my thanks are on pause. However, in a few weeks time, I will make sure to rectify this.

To the class of 2020, I want to say I only wish that this current lesson in “resilience” were a little easier. But you know, I think it’s going to stand to you too. Because you are not snowflakes, you never were. You are trees taking root in shifting sands. And while I would dearly love to think you were inheriting a better world, we both know that this is not entirely the case… So every time I hear you roar with laughter, watch you turn up the music, and even smell a batch of cookies come out of the oven, I smile and think, wow, you’ve got this. In all of this uncertainty your roots are actually getting stronger. Keep going!

To my very own Leaving Cert student, I want to say that you are awesome, I love you, and I couldn’t be any prouder. I am proud not only of how you are handling this, but of how you have progressed through all fourteen years of your state education. I have loved every school play, every piano recital, every choir concert. I have loved hearing your news, I have loved every piece of artwork, I have loved every song and poem you have brought home to us. I can still remember your first day of playschool, leading you to your líne in Junior Infants, dropping you to the bus stop as you began first year in secondary school. I can still remember crying (me, that is) on your last day of playschool, your extraordinary 6th class graduation play, and now this. It has been my great joy to watch you grow up. Thank you.

A few days ago, I planted a sapling apple tree in our front garden. I had thought it was for me, but it’s not. It’s for you. It might not look like much right now, but I know it’s going to flourish.


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1 Comment

  1. Well said Aoife. Beautifully written. Really resonated.

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