Rockwell College's Robert Burke shares his Leaving Certificate journey.
“D-Day is coming” - the warning our vice-principal greeted us with every morning. Most of us weren’t awake enough to realise that the 6th June, the beginning of the Leaving Cert coincides with the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings - a fact that I shouldn’t really have the time to be looking up.
Hearing that first thing in the morning, and the lethargic groan that followed is one of the many things I will remember about this past year, and the past six years at Rockwell College.
Coming into September, our year had a fair share of problems - divides among friend groups, an overall negative attitude towards life in general, and some terrible haircuts. While some are still evident, for the most part, I feel we have overcome the majority of them.
The day of Graduation and in particular the night that followed helped us to get over ourselves. Coming into school the following day, I saw people laughing and joking that never would have spoken to each other nine months ago. It is a shame that it has taken until the end for that to happen, but at least we can now leave Rockwell for wherever we end up come September feeling like we have connected with everyone.
The final weeks of sixth year are like no other. The sudden camaraderie that takes hold makes it bearable. What should be the most stressful time of our educational careers is made all the more liveable thanks to those around you. On top of this, sentiment becomes a factor, whether we like to admit it or not, and we will miss the place. The last six years seem now as though they have flown by, and, watching my brother finish his final year in college last week, I can only assume that the next four will go by even quicker. That adds a bitter-sweet taste when I feel relieved to be finished, knowing that we are nearing the end of sharing the same building for 12 hours a day, and life is only going to speed up from here.
Secondary school plays a big role in shaping who you are, your character and personality are transformed in ways you mightn’t even notice. In particular, how you deal with stress and tension can be defined in secondary school. Luckily, we are a pretty relaxed year. We have faced these exams with calmness - some teachers may call it complacency- but I feel like we are well prepared for them. It is surprising how much you can cram into the week before the exams, most people have spent the past week locked away, making the most of caffeine tablets, energy drinks and pre-workout shakes. Sunburn and a defiant attitude will mark out the ones that haven’t. All that we have left to do now is to get pen to paper and get it over with.
Wednesday won’t be easy, but sharing the exam hall with everyone will make it a little less painful.