Two and a half years ago, I was a student in a mainstream high school.
I went to school every day, did my homework diligently and joined in extra-curricular activities. I had a wide circle of friends and I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do when I finished school.
Things were going relatively okay. Until they weren’t.
Fast forward to two years ago.
My mental health was at its lowest. I was in and out of hospital. This meant I couldn’t go to school. I stopped doing any activities and I lost a lot of friends.
I missed an entire school year.
Then my parents heard about The Bowen College, one of Youth Off The Streets’ independent alternative schools. I visited and the staff were all so supportive. I felt like this could be a good place for me to get back on track with my school stuff.
At the beginning of last year, 2023, I started Year 10 at The Bowen College. I remember sitting with our School Manager Liz, and my teachers and caseworkers Tim and Matt. It was my first Individual Learning Plan (ILP) meeting, and I decided to go big or go home – so I set my goals for the year.
These goals were to:
- maintain decent attendance
- do well in my assessments
- get my Record of School Achievement (RoSA)
- transition back into mainstream school at the end of the year
It was a rocky start. There were times when I couldn’t make it through the day, as well as friendship struggles and moments when I wanted to throw in the towel. But my teachers and support workers were with me every step of the way.
At one point, Liz said that I needed to be resilient and not let things bother me so much.
I struggled to accept this comment. But in time, it dawned on me – no matter what, Liz wasn’t going to give up on me.
She and the rest of my teachers were going to guide me through the year to help me achieve my goals.
There were a lot of fun, educational moments along the way. Camp was definitely a highlight. I also loved volunteering at the zoo, cooking, helping at La Perouse Primary School, painting the mural for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), visiting the rehab centre and completing a barista course.
In addition, I challenged myself in the athletics carnival, warrior challenge and frisbee competition. I took part in every gala day and went swimming at Mahon Pool.
Fast forward 10 months, and here we are.
You might be wondering whether I achieved my goals.
Well, each term, my attendance was consistently between 92 and 100%. I passed every assessment and got my RoSA. And, starting this year, I’ll be completing Year 11 and 12 at a mainstream high school.
To say I’ll miss Bowen is an understatement.
I am so sad to be leaving, but I am so thankful to all the teachers and staff at Youth Off The Streets – especially Liz!
Thank you for all the opportunities and guidance, and for keeping me on the right track. It’s been an amazing year.
I am proud to be a student at Bowen College.
Learn more about Youth Off The Streets’ independent and accredited alternative schools.
Name and image changed to protect the privacy of the young person.