Year 7 and a New Breed of Vegemite

BZZZT. From the depths of my handbag my phone is telling me I have a new text message. I scrabble around and finally locate it among the pens, lipsticks and other handbag detritus.

Casually I swipe the screen to read it, and immediately experience a jolt of shock that’s been happening more and more often lately…

high school text message

Next year my eldest son Jack will be one of many of Queensland students that will start high school in Year 7, rather than Year 8 as has traditionally been the case.

Despite having known about this for over a year now, my mind is still having trouble coming to grips with this information. It continues to ambush me at odd moments, for example while picking the boys up from after-school care a few weeks ago…

“Next year it will just be Oscar and Max at after-school care… BECAUSE JACK WILL BE IN HIGH SCHOOL!!”

Or at a school function the other day…

“Oh look there’s good old Helen (who I’ve known since Jack was in prep). OH GOD I probably wont see Helen much after the end of this year… BECAUSE JACK WILL BE IN HIGH SCHOOL!!”

I think the issue is that by starting in Year 7 Jack’s transition to high-school will be so profoundly different to my own that my mind literally can’t take it in.

I had what has been the typical suburban Brisbane experience of moving into high school, starting Year 8 in 1990 as fresh-faced “vegie”.

For those who did not grow up in Brisbane, Year 8s when they started high school were universally referred to as Vegemites – or vegies for short. I have no idea how this term originated but my high school teacher mother says that its still used at her school today.

Prior to this I’d spent the entire Year 7 swanning about my primary school with a gang of girls thinking we were the coolest things ever. I had triumphantly barn-danced with SEVERAL boys at my graduation dance and considered myself ready for anything high school could throw at me.

This misconception lasted for about the the first three minutes on my first day of Year 8 at at a huge private co-ed school, where I was made immediately aware that my position in the pecking order was somewhere further down the ladder than I had bargained for.

me at high school

This is me and my best mate in Year 10. As you can see I have recovered from my early stage fright. Hey what can I say – I was a resilient kid 😉

In contrast, both the current Year 6s and Year 7s are kind of getting ripped off.

All kids look forward having their moment as the top dogs in the school, but for these kids its a glory they have to grudgingly share with the other grade. They’ll also have to share their graduation ceremonies, end of year dances and all the other rites of passage usually associated with saying farewell to your primary school years.

But after going to to the information night at Jack’s soon to be high school this evening, I am left feeling that this new system has some distinct advantages as well.

For example high schools will now be split into Junior Secondary (years 7, 8 & 9) and Senior Secondary (years 10, 11 & 12). There will be a designated Junior Secondary precincts within schools where the absence of the older kids will probably go a long way towards reducing anxiety and feeling of being overwhelmed that I experienced in my first year of high school.

That look says “teenager“ more eloquently than any words could ever express...

That look says “teenager“ more eloquently than any words could ever express…

Our school has also structured its teachers so that they double up on certain subjects. For example Jack’s English teacher will also be his Humanities teacher and his maths teacher will also be his science teacher. The over all effect will give teachers more time with the kids so that they have a chance to establish relationships with individual students. It also means less stress on the students as they have less classroom changes and more continuity of care.

So a different transition to high school for sure – but one that I think has the potential to be a good one all the same.

The following words were on the first slide of the principal’s presentation this evening. I’ve decided that they will be my mantra every time I feel anxious about the start of Jack’s high school adventure…

your school experience

And that’s OK with me.

** My thanks to my friend Fiona for providing the photo of me in high school xx

Rachel - Ed

About Rachel

Thirty-something Brisbane lover, trying to find the balance between FOMO and YOLO. Semi-retired party girl who loves planning itineraries for big nights out. Often found dragging 3 boys around your local farmers markets or attempting to sneak out for dinner with my husband, The Chef.

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11 Responses to “Year 7 and a New Breed of Vegemite”

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      I thought that any southern readers would think it was weird! I am being kind of a sook about it but I figure I’m allowed to be 🙂

  1. I still can not get my head around year seven being part of high school. It’s just strange. The other thing I can’t get is how they work out who starts prep when. For example, my daughter and niece were born in 2010, but because my niece was born in Feb she will start prep next year, but my daughter who was born in July won’t. Seems crazy to me!

  2. I find it funny that you guys have been told that you are the first ones rolling it out, when my brother’s school has been doing it for a few years now. He’s in Grade 10 now and his grade was the first to start high school in Grade 7. When I went into high school I started a different school, in a new town and was promptly made an outcast by the kids who attended the local high school instead of making the trek to the bigger high school in the next town. I used to be terrified all the time that I would be kicked off the bus because a new student would start as I wasn’t eligible to be on the bus and receive funding so if an eligible student started then I would be the first one off!

  3. As a southerner Year 7 has always meant the start of high school for me so not that strange. What is strange is that dual graduation for Years 6 & 7 this year – you are right, both grades are being seriously ripped off! I love that slide you featured too – very wise words that all of us need to chant 🙂

  4. I actually wrote an article about this and didn’t think too much about it until I read this. It’s quite a big step by the government assures everyone that they have done their homework to ensure a smooth transition, you will be the judge of that I know!!

  5. In the NT, they have middle school which is year 7-9, and then senior school. With my eldest in year 6, I was ok with that happening next year, though it’s different than it was for me. (Like you, starting year 8.) Then we mvdd interstate, and the school we are at has year 6 as middle school, so she lost her graduation, and a whole year kinda! Plus we had 3 weeks to adjust!
    She’s done well though, and it’s been good for her personally. I do think it makes them grow up a lot quicker though 🙁

  6. What a cute memory that high school shot is!!

    I think we NSWers forget that QLD starts school a good year ahead of most of the other states, so I can see your dilemma! But I think the splitting of high school into junior and senior is inspired and would give me a great deal of comfort.

    You know, just as you point out, either way, with a lot of loving family support, we all get there in the end. Good luck to your dear boy!

    Completely off topic: I looked for an email address for you, Rachel, because I wanted to tell you that the comment you left on my Fitting It All In post. You totally made my day!! Keep in touch and email me if you think I can help you get where you want to be in any way, shape or form. x

    • Rachel - Ed
      Rachel - Ed Reply

      Hi Bron! Yes that’s the main reason for the change – to bring us into line with the other states. And you are right, I do take comfort in the split between junior and senior and think it could actually be a BETTER experience of starting high school than what I had.

      And I’m delighted I made your day. I may just email you if I need a bit of clarity – to help me see the forest from the trees so to speak! I am trialing an interesting WP plug-in called CoSchedule that allows you to post and schedule Facebook, Twitter & G+ from the WP dashboard. I’m hoping it will help me get into the routine of scheduling everything at once. If I like it I will let you know – maybe one to add to your tools slide 🙂

  7. Bele @ BlahBlah Reply

    Oh, your beautiful boy is off to high school, oh man. This growing up business happens way too quick x

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