For the Class of 2020, nothing has gone quite to plan. Not only have these remarkable students had to grapple with ancient history, biology or algebra on Zoom, they have also had to navigate the difficult path of becoming an adult largely on their own. They have missed out on the rites of passage that make Year 12 such a special time: graduations, end‑of‑year celebrations and even the process of farewelling high school and friends. They have managed an incredibly difficult academic year too, some dealing with limited access to the internet, interruptions from bored younger siblings, or trying to balancing the stress of study with the stress of perhaps a parent losing work during the pandemic. I am taking this opportunity today to speak to Year 12, 2020: You have made us so incredibly proud. You have risen to the challenges of 2020 with conviction, hope and resilience. You have succeeded despite everything this year has thrown at you: bushfires, COVID‑19 and recession. I know you are just getting started. If 2020 cannot stop you, nothing will.
This year 68,673 students are on track to complete their HSC. Each has their own story about how they have overcome the obstacles of this pretty tricky year. I will share just one of them with you. Anna Le, a student at Marrickville High School, has proven herself to be a strong, capable and resilient young woman who has excelled academically despite tough obstacles over the past two years. Due to family circumstances, Anna found herself moving from Perth to Sydney to live with her grandmother when she was in Year 11 and attending a new school in a new city just months prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic. Anna embraced life at Marrickville High School and quickly became part of the school family. She impressed teachers with her can‑do attitude, friendly nature and strong work ethic, and was voted school captain by her peers and teachers. She excelled academically, consistently achieving A and B grades and, despite experiencing financial hardship, she enthusiastically gave back to the community through school fundraising initiatives and volunteering outside of school throughout the year.
The pandemic has not been easy for Anna, who has balanced her studies with caring for her grandmother. She is an extraordinary young woman who has taken the year in her stride and achieved so much. Anna is not alone. I encourage all those students from across the Summer Hill electorate who have taken on leadership roles and contributed so much to their school communities: Ashfield Boys High School's Jordan Ddibya and Jonathan Chen, Bethlehem College's Jessica Clemente and Barbara Farhat, Casimir College's Peter Ikonomopoulos and Lara Smith, Christian Brothers High School Lewisham's James Threlkeld, Patrick Alexiadis and Anthony Fortini, De La Salle College's Michael Rahme, Felix Colvin and Antonio Mercurio, Dulwich High School of Visual Art and Design's Audrey Ormella and Christian Chorbadjian, St Maroun's College's Mickael Sassine and Raymond Truong, Marrickville High School's Anna Le and Oscar Sachs, and Trinity Grammar's Spiro Christopoulos, Ethan Bateman, Lewis Dobbin and Joshua Yeah.
Each of these students has done an extraordinary job balancing their school and community work in so many ways. They have worked to make sure this difficult year has been a little safer, calmer and more "normal" for their fellow students. Of course, students do not do it alone. When the lockdown came into effect, teachers across New South Wales began quickly adapting to online learning, ensuring students had the resources and support they needed to learn. Day and night, teachers were there to support students and so, too, were their parents and families. Year 12 and the HSC is a tough slog for families as well. This year, more than ever, parents have had to step up and help manage their children's mental health.
Recent research has shown that 70 per cent of year 12 girls felt anxious about exams and 47 per cent were stressed about the state of the world in general—far higher than their male counterparts. A key driver in young people's anxiety is the lack of certainty about what will follow high school, with youth unemployment at all‑time highs and the lingering health restrictions meaning young people are less certain about the path forward than ever before. These are difficult and confusing times, but if there was ever a group of young people with the optimism and resilience to overcome the obstacles and achieve their dreams, it is definitely the class of 2020. They are extraordinary. I know they will achieve extraordinary things. I offer to year 12 students across the inner west my sincerest congratulations and best wishes for the future.