Making do in a shattering year

Bethany Mathers ... Students are making the best of the situation.
Bethany Mathers ... Students are making the best of the situation.

Avonside Girls' High School Year 13 student Bethany Mathers, head of the school council, describes life post-earthquake. 

I was one of the few students at school when the quake struck and minutes later the damage was obvious. Cracks snaked up the brickwork in main block, sand volcanoes decorated the front lawn, windows had shattered and concrete paths were smashed. Now, three months later, we don't know if we can repair the damaged buildings or even rebuild on site.

We have been shifted to Burnside High School. The arrangement sounds simple. Burnside High has the school grounds from 8am until 12.35pm and Avonside Girls has them from 1pm until 5.35pm and we both operate on condensed timetables. However, the reality has been far from simple.

We are all grateful to Burnside for offering to share with us and for making us feel welcome. But we are still in mourning for our school. I never realised how attached I was to it. Main block, our oldest and biggest building, made of brick, was very dear to us, and knowing that we may never get back there has been very hard.

I have heard girls talking about how they miss the big old trees at the front, the swinging doors in main block, the lawn in front of main block and many other places.

We are now into our second term of school sharing and settling into a routine, albeit a very strange one. Some students are getting up early and making use of the spare time to train and do homework. Most, like me, are using the time to catch up on sleep and doing our homework late at night after school.

At 11.40am I catch my free school bus. Before the earthquake it took 10 minutes to get to school, now it takes about an hour. The buses are crowded and noisy, full of Avonside Girls students plus a few from Marian College and Shirley Boys. Classes have been shortened to 45 minutes, and though missing out on 15 minutes of each class every day doesn't sound like much, it quickly adds up.

Many of us have had to drop internal credits. This is a huge worry for many students, especially after missing out on four weeks of school after the quake.

Interval is too short to do much other than grab some food. For many people this has meant dropping things like music and drama groups, which just can't function without lunchtime practices.

But despite all the worries and frustrations, we are making the best of the situation. There are many great things about being at Burnside. We have use of some of their amazing facilities, and have had the chance to work with Burnside High's student executive.

Mostly, I'm just glad to still be with my friends and still be able to take the same subjects with the same teachers. There is a great sense that we are working through these tough times together.

Sunday Star Times