19 April 2016

Schoolies week, did you go?

| Alexandra Craig
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The words ‘Schoolies Week’ makes a lot of people shudder and cringe, unless of course you’re a high school graduate to-be with a Schoolies trip to the Gold Coast planned. I have heard that some Canberra graduates are “Coasties” and spend their time on South Coast beaches as opposed to heading up north.

I didn’t have a Schoolies. I graduated high school in 2008 and heaps of kids in my grade were going. It felt like all they talked about for about two years before we were even in Year 12.

My best friend and I thought about going together but decided it was a waste of money because we weren’t huge party-goers (read: we rarely went out and didn’t see the value in getting smashed on cans of UDL and strawberry Vodka Cruisers) and also Schoolies was really, really expensive. Besides your flights and general expenses, accommodation cost about three or four times as much than if you were there any other time of year because of the insurance costs attached.

We both had jobs and chose to stay at home on the Central Coast (we lived 5 mins from the beach, why fly all the way to Queensland for the ocean?!) and work extra shifts – we got way more enjoyment out of buying new clothes and tickets to concerts than we would have spending a week with kids acting like clowns in Queensland.

Everyone has heard the Schoolies horror stories of binge drinking, drug taking, unprotected sex with multiple partners. A couple of years ago a 17 year old girl sadly plunged to her death from a hotel balcony.

If I was a parent with a Schoolies-keen child I would absolutely have my reservations about sending them. The images we see each year are horrible and no one would ever want their child hurt or in a dangerous situation.

But, Schoolies kids are young adults and should be old enough to make their own decisions. Of course, many don’t, and even those who are sensible in their time on the Gold Coast can still fall victim to things like drink-spiking or sexual assault.

One heartening thing to come from Schoolies week is the work done by volunteer organisation Red Frogs. About 1500 Red Frog volunteers head to Schoolies each week to assist partygoers by walking them home to ensure they have a safe journey and offering emotional support through what can be a challenging week for some. I think an organisation like this would play an extremely valuable role at Schoolies, it’s incredible that they receive so many volunteers.

Lots of kids from my school say Schoolies was the most fun they had ever had at that point in their life, others say it wasn’t as good as they expected, while a handful describe it as the worst week ever.

As for me, I don’t regret not going to Schoolies. I don’t think I missed out on anything and if I had my time over I wouldn’t choose to do anything differently.

Did you go to Schoolies? Do you have a child attending Schoolies this year?

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Most ACT colleges don’t finish in time for students to head up to Schoolies in Queensland or Byron Bay – because we have our own academic system (at least until National Curriculum is introduced), the vast majority of students still have exams once HSC and VCEs have finished in other states. This is why the coast trips are so popular – they still want to let their hair down, but can’t go up to Surfer’s at the same time as everyone else.

A big bunch of my friends booked a house for a week at South Durras, and had a great time.

I didn’t go, but I graduated in 1999 when we were more focused on New Year’s Eve and impending doom. Between that, the end-of-year assembly, dinner and Year 12 formal, there were enough opportunities to commemorate the end of high school.

I wasn’t really the type to go to schoolies anyway – I definitely didn’t have the money to fly anywhere. In retrospect, I would have been too immature and nervy to do anything too risky anyway. I did have an end-of-degree trip with my uni mates at the end of university – seems like it’s a lot more fun when you can drive, drink (legally) and afford it a little more easily.

pink little birdie11:25 am 01 Dec 15

year 12 in Canberra doesn’t end with a month of intense exams. The majority of year 12’s are barely attending term 4 with their graduating requirements met at the end of term 3.

I didn’t go to schoolies – none of my friends did either. If your not into the big parties there isn’t anypoint. A lower key holiday down the coast with a small group of friends suits most people more.

Aragornerama10:25 am 01 Dec 15

I graduated in 2010 and don’t know a single person who went (granted, I only know about my friends). Might be different for blokey private schools, but I don’t think Canberrans are really into schoolies.

No, I don’t regret it in the slightest. Sounds awful.

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