teens

“I got into zero of the courses I wanted.” For Jan Fran, Year 12 didn’t go to plan.

Each year The Newspaper would attempt to traumatise me.

Each year, at some point in late December/early January, The Newspaper, which was absolutely a thing in the 1990s, would run a story designed to inflict immeasurable pain and suffering not just on me but on approximately 99.99 (recurring) per cent of its state’s student population.

Yes, I assure you this is true! For each year, on the front page no less, would sit a lengthy, fawning feature story accompanied by one-to-several group photos of the Golden Children, the Chosen Ones, the High School Heroes, aka the students who’d received a (frankly obscene) perfect score of 100 in the Higher School Certificate.

Watch Jan Fran’s viral ‘Frant’ following the announcement of the same-sex marriage plebiscite. Post continues below. 

Video by SBS

Well done them, aye!! Now back to me!

My trauma was inflicted partly by The Newspaper and partly by my father, who at the time was driven by two things: one) a strong desire to see his teenage daughters do well at school and two) a crippling inability to relate to his teenagers daughters, whom he wanted to see do well at school.

This disastrous combination meant that each year my father would snip said story (photographs included) out of the newspaper and sticky tape it to the wall of our lounge room, where it would hang until a fresh bunch of perfect-scorers found their way into the newspaper 365 days later.

This in effect meant that every day for the duration of my high school years, I had the smug, beaming faces of the folks who’d scored a perfect mark in the HSC looking down on me from their academic high horse, which they presumably rode straight into a Sydney University commerce/law degree and then into a great life with a house by the water and a medium-sized dog.

The trauma continues.

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One particular year, The Newspaper saw fit to tszuj things up and feature not just the folks who’d done extremely well in the HSC but the folks who’d done terribly and so beside the photo of the bright, perky kids with their perfect HSC scores sat a photo of a group of sullen, sombre kids none of whom, it would soon transpire, had scored a mark over 50 (what’s a bit of public shaming to sell papers aye?).

My father, very much under the mistaken impression that his penchant for newspaper snippery was “motivating,” decided to snip both stories out of the newspaper, tape them side-by-side on our lounge room wall and ask rather emphatically, ‘now Jan, which group do you want to be in, this one or this one?’

You either got 100 per cent or you failed. Good one, daddio!

Jan Fran. Image supplied.
Jan Fran. Image supplied.

You’ll be pleased to know that nothing in this world is that black-and-white, kids. There are 50 percentage points in between getting 50 and getting 100 in your HSC and I, like the vast majority of students in NSW, sat within those 50 shades of grey and look at me now: technically unemployed and very much available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

The point is this - I got 90.3 in my HSC, which got me into zero of the courses that I wanted to do at university but it didn’t really matter in the end because - and here’s what I wish someone had told me - life’s long! It’s the longest thing you’ll do and the HSC is just one year, one measly year in the scheme of a lifetime.

Whatever mark you walk out with this year will matter more in the short term than it does in the long run and the best among us are out here playing a long game, honey.

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