Harrogate 17-year-old's eye-opening insights and inspiring messages about life in lockdown for the Class of 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has turned life as we know it completely upside down. Everything we know - challenged, and whole new ways of life adapted.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 1:02 pm

Harrogate 17-year-old Isabelle Lepine has just finished Year 13 at St Aidan's and St John Fisher Associated Sixth Form. To contribute to the country's efforts during the coronavirus crisis, Isabelle is working in a care home in Leeds to care for elderly residents. Once the pandemic has passed, she hopes to move to Paris and continue to learn about different languages and cultures. Here, she writes for the Harrogate Advertiser to share an important message and insight into what life is like for the Class of 2020 during lockdown.

For many students across the country, exams in the UK are the pinnacle of each generation’s education and act as a rite of passage to the next phase of life. However, for the class of 2020, this formative experience has been swept from underneath them, with little warning.

Whilst little is understood of the current educational climate during this unprecedented period, the following is clear with regards to examinations. According to governmental guidelines, the GCSE, AS and A-Level students will be awarded a grade which fairly reflects the effort they have put in over the course of their studies.

Passionate about helping others: Isabelle Lepine is doing her bit to help during the coronavirus crisis by working at a care home in Leeds.

However, there are growing concerns surrounding the lasting, and potentially damaging, effect that such sudden changes to environment and future prospects will have on our young people. Many exam students are struggling with the uncertainty of the solution provided by the government, worrying about the long-term impacts to their career or educational progress, and finding it difficult to adjust to this slower-paced way of life.

Some would argue that this is an unavoidable series of unfortunate events. But what if we could turn the tables, and gain something positive during these unprecedented times? This precious spring time every year is dedicated to revising, the building tensions and stress of looming exams.

Yet in 2020, this time has been unexpectedly gifted to our young people. A chance to spend time with families before they take flight to the next phase of their lives. A time which should be treasured with opportunities to strengthen relationships and bonds. A global dedication to bettering mental well-being: giving ourselves space to reflect in a world that for once has slowed down with us.

Whilst it is evident that people around the world are suffering, there is undeniable beauty within its cracks. Our communities are being drawn together to support one another, businesses shown love and smiles exchanged on the streets between strangers again. At the point of losing so much, we cannot fail to recognise all that we have gained.

Many students are using this time to gain practical work experience, by volunteering or working on our front lines, or exploring further the technological realm in which society is headed. Although it is indisputable that human contact is to be cherished, the skills that our students are acquiring during this pandemic are invaluable for the future. The country is looking to the youth to lead us with their innate ability to connect with others, despite adversity.

When the lockdown is lifted and normal life returns, the class of 2020 will have been prepared in a new, unprecedented, and wholesome way for the trials that life will challenge them with. And they will tackle each challenge with a heart full of love and compassion, gained from this formative experience.

Article written by Isabelle Lepine.