Remote Learning 2.0 has certainly added a new level of complexity to what is already a stressful year for many students on the home straight to completing their VCE or VCAL certificates.

For Year 12 student, Macey Holland, the latest restrictions have been a double edged sword.

“When we went back to school in May, I was so relieved, thinking we’d have a smooth run to the final exams,” she says. “I think I’m finding it much harder to stick to a routine this time around.”

The upside for Macey is that she’s back living on her family’s farm near Boort. During the regular school term she stays in Bendigo with her aunt and uncle to make the journey to and from school less effort. Remote learning means the opportunity to enjoy some quality time with her family—and be able to help out during the busy lambing season.

“We have beautiful white lambs frolicking in the paddocks around the house at the moment,” Macey says. “Another obsession lately has been cutting wood for our fire and to sell. My little brother is obsessed with chainsaws! We also enlist the help of Morton, our dog.”

Being a self-described social person, Macey admits to missing her friends dearly, along with activities like netball training and community sport on weekends; a much needed relief from the stresses of VCE.

“I’ve been Face Timing with some of my friends to do our classwork so we can have a catch up,” she says. “Not that much is happening for us to share!

“The worst aspect is not having the controlled learning environment that school provides. I’m one of those students who spends copious amounts of time in the library, before, during and after school… it’s where I am most productive. I really miss that environment.”

The farm provides some relief for Macey, providing a bubble from the outside world. Her family are understanding and supportive of her academic goals, but also happy to provide the necessary downtime with jobs around the farm.

“A lot of the time I’m exempt from farm duties because I have a SAC to study for, or some homework to finish, but I try to help out when I can,” Macey says. “Lately I’ve been picking up wood for my brother, Frasier, after he cuts it, or doing some fencing and checking the lambs with Dad.

“Mum loves her gardening, so I help her with that sometimes too. I’m aiming to study Agriculture, so any experience on the farm will hopefully hold me in good stead for the future.”

Getting towards the business end of Year 12, much of Macey’s time over the past two weeks has been spent making major decisions about the future; applying for uni courses and thinking about exam preparation.

“At the moment, end of year exams and the 30th December are about the only things I’m thinking of,” she says. “Regardless of COVID-19, every Year 12 student and their support network is feeling overwhelmed and stressed at this time of year, but we are still ultimately motivated to do the best we can come exams.”

Macey is mindful of maintaining a balance and is grateful for the peaceful surroundings provided by the farm.

“One of my favourite things about living on the farm is our water tower,” she says. “It’s 120 feet tall and has an amazing view. I love climbing up there at sunset, but it also looks amazing at night. You feel like you can almost reach out and grab the stars.

“We also have a pretty cool shearing shed, which is red brick and heritage listed, so I enjoy helping out in there.

“Growing up, I quickly discovered that living rurally provides you with so many opportunities, as much as it can be a challenge. In times like these I’m grateful for my circumstances—that I have space to grow and learn in.”

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