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Friday 24 November 2017

After all the talk, hype and study, it's time to take plunge

HERE we go so, folks. Leaving Certificate 2011 is almost ready to kick off. In the space of 14 years, we have gone from painting our handprints to shaping our futures. Aristotle once said "the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet". Hopefully, the roots will prove sweet in August.

But from tomorrow, each of us are hostages to an exam paper, forced to cram our collective brains with an in-depth knowledge of the soil in the tropical rainforest, why a pear-shaped flask is used in preference to a round-bottom flask in the preparation of ethanoic acid, and the preposterously pointless 'Stair na Gaeilge'.

The travails of an Irish teenager in June are harsh, when one is expected to answer a maths question asking how to divide 60 apples between Anne and Barry in the ratio 7:3, while fighting the urge to ask: "What exactly will Anne do with 42 apples?"

It is hard to believe that the Earth has already made it around the sun since last year's state exams. It seems like only yesterday that we, as fifth years, were grimacing at this page knowing that we were next in line for those torturous 13 summer days. But those days are almost upon us and the nerves are setting in.

Easter was late this year, which meant by the time the Easter eggs were taken off supermarket shelves, most students were bracing themselves for a frenzy of French, formulae, and countless other facets of the Leaving Cert course.

That blizzard duly arrived, and there has been no let-up since. The final week of school offered a quantum of relief, as doss books were signed, goodbyes were said and tears were shed.

I have had a fortnight away from the school uniform, to prepare me for my return to the itchy, suffocating jumper. More suffocating than the jumper will be the pressure-cooker environment, usually worsened by glorious sunshine. The rain that arrived in my part of the world on Sunday dampened many spirits for the bank holiday weekend but it lifted the spirits of exam students, as they realised their final preparations for English paper one and home economics would be blessed by rain.

So, after all the talk, hype and study, we are ready to take the plunge into Leaving Cert 2011. It is a frantic, difficult time, where staying positive is essential. There is no point in stressing too much, after all there is life after the Leaving. As Leonard Cohen said: "There are cracks in everything; that's how the light gets in."

Gavin is a student in Mercy Secondary School, Ballymahon, Co Longford

Irish Independent

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