MANY of us recall Year 12 as one of the most stressful, but most enjoyable, years of our lives.
While the spectre of the Higher School Certificate hung over every moment, the final year of schooling is about so much more than the exams.
Year 12 was a year for leaving behind childhood and taking the first steps into adulthood.
The freedom to drive gave us an independence we'd not experienced before and at school we were given greater responsibility for our own learning, and encouraged more than ever to think for ourselves and to share our thoughts.
Year 12 was also the time many of our friends were turning 18 and weekends were spent partying together, playing sport together or just hanging out together.
For many of us, the friends we had in Year 12 are the friends we still have decades later - and it was everything but the exams that forged those bonds.
So, among all the disconnection the coronavirus has wrought on our communities, just take a moment to spare a thought for the Year 12 Class of 2020.
This cohort of students is facing their most stressful year in the most stressful circumstances we have seen in living memory.
And, to make life even tougher, they must do it largely without the support of their peers. Contact through a messaging app or Zoom classroom is simply not the same as sitting together at lunchtime.
Teachers are also doing their best but know that nothing can replace the energy, support and shared learning that comes in a motivated classroom.
Young, healthy Year 12 students are by no means the worst-affected by this virus and it's true they will emerge from it with their whole lives laid out before them, but we should not underestimate what COVID-19 has cost them.
Education ministers will meet in coming days to try and thrash out a way forward for the Class of 2020 but with a virtual shutdown of all schools in term two looking increasingly likely, there is simply no fair way to measure this year's results against past years.
That's a problem for schools, a problem for universities and a problem for students.
But through hardship comes resilience, and the Class of 2020 will have to be one of the most resilient we have seen.
We wish them well and look forward to seeing them succeed.
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