Dec 4, 2012

It’s fun until you get herpes: students discuss schoolies

The media portrays the schoolies pilgrimage as dangerous and debauched. But what do the students think? Melbourne secondary school teacher Chris Fotinopoulos asks his year 11 students.

With schoolies drawing to a close, it seemed a good time to ask some of my students what they thought of the high-profile rite of passage. Is it really the debauched, dangerous event shown in the media?

One female year 11 student told me there were idiots at schoolies who “do nothing more than get drunk and fall over, however people like that are found everywhere”. “Besides,” she said, “do you really think the media would bother reporting on a group of teenagers sitting on the beach making new friends, talking and having a laugh?”

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9 thoughts on “It’s fun until you get herpes: students discuss schoolies

  1. Andrew McMillen

    Great read Chris, thanks for sharing this. You’re right in that the students themselves aren’t heard from much when it comes to Schoolies coverage – the vast majority we hear is from adults moralising the choices of teenagers.


    in my day we went to Lorne for two weeks. There were the “Children of God” types loitering around the beach trying to turn us on to Christianity. At least these days they hand out jelly baby frogs and don’t seem to be too much like a cult. Good Times. Oh yeah on the last day of school we covered each other in flour then ran down the beach to dive in fully clothed into the sea. The nuns at school said we’d have to behave ourselves when we got to university and we nodded politely and said ok.

  3. Bob the builder

    I finished school 20 years ago in Sydney and schoolies at the Gold Coast was well and truly entrenched them … though not as ‘organised’, read commercialised.
    I had no interest in going and it wasn’t something that everyone did, but lots of people did go. Probably not much has changed – ugly then, ugly now.

  4. pritu

    I wonder how the average school leaver today copes with the barrage of pressure to consume the commercialised touristy stuff and keep the breweries and grog shop in business at the stage of life when being part of the crowd is so important for most of them. Seems to sort out the well adjusted from the rest.

  5. James Butler

    Schoolies, just like spring break or whatever is purely commercial event. Majority of high schoolers are often ‘pressured’ to be with the crowd, to be popular, so they go to this event. In my Generation (Y), being popular and part of the crowd was important but not as psychopathic at it is with the current generation. We would never really go out of our way like getting od from drugs ,or getting overdrunk or even HIV or herpes.

    I also feel bad for the ethnic high schoolers from all backgrounds, who are usually left out of schoolies, because the white high schoolers dominate this event and usually don’t approve of ethnic minorities.

  6. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    [Lower-performing students]
    Yep, spot on. I shed a tear whenever I hear that Australia has lost another checkout person due to a schoolies incident. What a waste of a perfectly mediocre life.


    @gerry hatrick
    does oap mean old age pensioner? or troll? I would comment that your post seems needlessly unkind, classist not to mention ageist but that’s probably what you’re expecting me to do. Will I never learn?


    Lord, give us the wisdom to utter words that are gentle and tender, for tomorrow we may have to eat them.
    -Sen. Morris Udall

  9. Gabi Crawford

    I’m in year 11, and planning my schoolies trip for next year at the moment. I’m going to Byron Bay because I have been there with my family, I know the area, and it’s a nice place. I just want to go away with my friends because we are all going separate ways after school. I have no interest in following the crowd, nor do I have any interest in taking drugs, getting drunk to the point of vomiting, or sleeping with strange boys I’ve never met. I don’t think the media representations of these few weeks are outrageous as I know there are some groups who do go out to do these things, but from my personal experience, it is not the majority. My parents are usually fairly strict but they aren’t hesitant whatsoever in letting me go to schoolies next year. It really depends on where you’re going and the type of groups that go. Of course there are some wild groups but that is just 17-18 year olds in general. As stated by one of Chris’ students, they are usually the ones who party every week anyway. And lets not forget the ‘toolies’ – the older people who go to schoolies and often times wreck more havoc than us school leavers!

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