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School reunions and some advice for today’s teenagers

Three weeks ago I went to a school reunion. Incredibly it has been 20 years since I finished secondary school and completed my GCSEs.

There I am, sat in my final History class in May 1997.

And there I am, front left corner May 2017.
The funny thing is that when I walked in, everyone said I hadn’t changed.
Obviously I have. I have grey hairs. I have wrinkles and crow’s feet. I now wear glasses full time. But the changes inside have been even more striking. I am still shy but I am better at forcing myself to talk to people. I have a partner who loves and respects me, is my support in all I do. I have three children who have taken over my life in ways I never imagined and made me a better person.
This week I invigilated an exam and I was soooo angry. A boy sat there and wrote nothing except his name. We are not allowed to make them take the exam, we are not allowed to tell his parents he did nothing.
What a waste. He has let himself down. He has let his parents down. He has let his teachers down. He has let his school down. He has let taxpayers down. How dare he sit there after receiving 11 years of free education and throw it back in our faces. When there are children in the world who have had to fight to be educated or to be free from the horrors of wars, he thinks it is acceptable to waste his opportunities.

This same boy sat there without a pen or a calculator for a maths exam. He expected to be handed them on arrival (which he was πŸ™ ). He said he was too poor to buy them. He said that while sat in designer clothes and trainers that cost more than my entire shoe collection.
I’m not saying it is all his fault because obviously his parents let him get away with it and other adults have been facilitating this behaviour. I hope the real world strikes back when he has to work and earn his own things. Then he’ll learn what value things are.
(On a side note, I still have my school calculator in full working order…)
My children don’t get everything handed to them on a plate. They have to earn their pocket money and they can choose what to buy with it, whether to save for a bigger toy or have several smaller ones. If they want designer gear when they are older then they are more than welcome to buy it but I will not be subsidising them. If they have their Calvin Klein pants on display (like the majority of the boys in the exam!) I will tell them to pull their trousers up.
I keep in touch with old school friends on Facebook but hadn’t seen any for years. It was lovely to see everyone and catch up properly. One of those at the reunion said ‘I’ve lost track of my best friends from school – mostly they seem to have dropped off the net’. So to those teens in the exam showing off, trying to be ‘cool’, forget it, you aren’t making a lasting impression and will end up being remembered for the wrong reasons. In today’s troubled world, be kind not cool.
One of those at the reunion is Tony, who is a university lecturer now and has this advice for teens: ‘Pay a lot of attention to past exam papers, but don’t bank everything on them. There’s a huge amount of pressure on school students these days – I’ve had 11-year-olds visit work and ask about how they can game the system to get the best marks for the exams in eight years time for uni entry. Sleep is really important for revising and studying. Also, explaining a subject to your friends is one of the best ways to learn it. I’m still finding this out now.

I think Tony and I were quite similar at school (sorry,Tony!) and he summed up his school days in the same way that I think of them : ‘Some bits were great while other bits were quite lonely. I never really fitted in all that well, but I got better at it over time’. The person you are at school is so different to who you end up being. And having kids will change you completely!
I have written before with advice for my kidsΒ for their exams and I stand by what I wrote previously. But what I want to emphasise is:

Don’t waste your opportunities.

Try your best each time so you can be proud of yourself.

True for teenagers and for us adults too…





  1. We recently had a school reunion that I would have liked to have attended unfortunately I am now disabled after stroke and deaf in one ear as it was a disco I opted not to go as I wouldn’t be able to dance or hear anyone above the music one of my good friends arranged a small school get together over lunch for me which was wonderful #blogginggoodtime@_karendennis

  2. Suz

    Oh, I would have been annoyed at that boy too. I wonder if one day he will regret wasting the opportunity? Would be interesting to meet him at his reunion 30 years on.
    I could have written Tony’s experience of school. There was a reunion at my school last year but I couldn’t go. I’m not the same person I was back then. Wonder if I’d get on better now?
    Interesting post πŸ™‚

  3. I have never had a school reunion and have lost touch with most of my school friends, although two of them are also bloggers. I would be disappointed if my teen behaved like that in an exam, although I very much doubt that she ever would do. x

  4. I think it’s a tricky one, for him To behave that way I would say it’s probably due to his environment. He must know he’ll achieve nothing and his parents won’t mind, and they’ve allowed him to go to school unequipped but full of expensive clothes. It’s such a shame.

  5. We have no idea why that boy didn’t sit his exam properly and I think it’s really unfair to judge him so critically because of it. There are loads of reasons why people do/don’t do things and who are we to judge? As an aside, isn’t it amazing how fast the time flies – I graduated in 1994!

  6. I can’t think of anything worse than a reunion! I wasn’t big on school, I never fit in nor did I want to – my own worst enemy. Teenagers think they know everything, can do everything and it’s not until now that all of a sudden we wished we’d done it differently. #stayclassymama

  7. MMT

    Hmmm a school reunion…not sure how I’d feel about that – I’d have to screen the guest list first! You are right about that kid I’d be wanting to shake him but guess it all stems from his upbringing so probably not his fault really ;-( Someone hasn’t instilled the right values eh? I’d be outside the gates triple checking my kids had every single thing they could possibly need. Kinda sad really…

    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

  8. Such a shame that the boy made no effort at all. I am the parent of teens and although mine are all hard workers I see a lot of their peers who expect everything to be handed to them on a plate

  9. Emma

    I’ve never been to a school reunion, I’m not sure if they’ve had one but I’ve fallen out of contact with almost all of my friends from school. It’s hard when children don’t appreciate what they have but sometimes it takes time to realise what you had etc. Hopefully the boy realises as he grows up x

  10. ali

    you’re very brave working with teenagers, I have 2 and they’re hard work! I agree that they need to be reminded not to waste opportunities, they’ll regret it when there older!

  11. So many parts of education seem wasted on teenagers. In later years they will, no doubt, regret it. Mine doesn’t work as hard as he should but it is because he is one of those fortunate people who can do well without much effort. He could be brilliant if he tried though!

  12. I have never had a school reunion but it would be great to see everyone after all this time. I didnt really keep in touch with anyone as I moved away to go to college.

  13. Interesting – I think that boy in the exam may have something else gong on. There’s a lot in this generation of teens that is ever so different to us. It’s very sad, and I’m sure being cool was just to cover for overwhelming trouble within

  14. Deb

    Although we think we’ve changed it just takes meeting up with old friends to see we are still the same but that it’s our lives that are now so different. I love meeting up with old friends.

  15. That used to infuriate me too – class mates would say they can’t afford to go on educational school trips costing Β£10, but were​ sat there in branded sports gear, with a new pair of branded glasses on that cost twice as much as I got in pocket money for the whole year!

  16. Ah you haven’t changed a bit!! I would love a school reunion, however got a little bullied in the last couple of years so it may not be as positive! Also, re: exam stress, i have such issues with this for our kids. Off to read your post on exams now πŸ™‚

  17. Great post, I very much hated school.. and now looking back I wish I had done more during my time there, my head was more in the clouds than not wanting to do the work, I had bigger dreams and wanted to learn things they didnt teach.. so with my own children ive made sure they work hard and enjoy working hard, they have a 100% attendance record which they are both really proud of and hang their certificates in their bedroom walls.. I dont really talk to or see many of my old school friends, and the last reunion that our school had children werent aloud so I couldnt go. semi glad really hah

  18. Great post. I also would have been infuriated by that boy who didn’t answer any exam questions. I wonder why he bothered to even show up!

  19. The thought of a school reunion terrifies me, haha! I don’t know why! Anyway, I would have been so mad with that boy! So bad! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  20. I graduated in ’92 and skipped both my ruinions. Now I kind of wish I’d went. FB is great for keeping up with people, but its not the same as seeing them face to face again. I’ve had this conversation with our teenager so many times and its so hard to get them to appreciate the gift of learning. As I write this I have the day off because its supposed to be her HS graduation tonight. Instead its another summer of school before she gets her diploma. So disappointing #KCACOLS

  21. I totally agree. We should never waste opportunities and we must endeavour do our best at all times. My mum always told there is no need to worry about anything if I tried my best. I will definitely be sharing this page with my teenage cousin. I guess it is better shown and read than said. Thank you for sharing. By the way, you honestly haven’t changed – the only difference is the glasses and no uniform.

  22. I haven’t stayed in contact with a lot of people from school, but I agree about it being a very lonely time. I had a lot of friends and some of them are still among my close friends, but I think school and teenage years are a lot about feeling a bit lost and out of place. I moved around a lot, which affected my grades, but I worked hard regardless and now am due to start my Masters degree next year. I think that trying your best is the best anyone can do during their school years.

  23. I have a school reunion coming up but I’ve kept in contact with most via social media. Will be interesting to see how people have changed but I know I’m no longer the person I was over 20 years ago now. I also had a conflicted time at high school but I’m much more confident and happy in myself now. Going mainly to share the memories and to share in the good times!

  24. You really haven’t changed at all! It’s a shame the boy didn’t take his exam, here’s hoping he manages to find his way before he makes any more decisions that will affect his future. Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

  25. I went to a school reunion never again very uncomfortable to say the least Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  26. I think that’s heartbreaking about that boy…either a product of his upbringing/environment or just an absolute lack of belief in himself, that’s awful that he hasn’t considered his opportunities or potential.
    A school reunion sounds like my idea of hell! But I suppose it would be interesting to see how people have/haven’t changed, and for the chance to reflect like yours gave you.

  27. Fab post. Kids take tooo much for granted and I’m trying so hard to ensure my little one grows up to be more appreciative.

    I attended a brief reunion once and can’t say it was the best or worst thing I’ve done. Have since refused any further invites though. I don’t need to be politely pleasant to people that were basically arseholes to me.


  28. I would never go to a school reunion. Sounds like hell. It was bad enough seeing a couple of people I knew from school as a bbq last night. lol. I once had a friend who slept through his welsh lit exam. #kcacols

  29. I like the ‘don’t waste opportunities’ piece of advice especially – sometimes there is an easier option but then how would we grow and learn?!

  30. #blogstravaganza before i forget. I am so with you, i was teaching in west African schools where students worked so hard all day so they could afford a pencil to write with in school! Today’s spoiled kids here make me so angry, too!

  31. That is such a shame that boy didn’t do anything. I think it starts from a young age and teaching your children to take control. Even now at 4 years old, Alice knows she has to have her book bag ready for school in the morning. My niece gets everything done for her and she is so lazy. Even at 7 years old she expects her parents to put her shoes for her and they do! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  32. This is so strange as I actually bumped into someone today that I went to school with well over 20 years ago. I’ve been thinking about school a lot today and what a fun time I remember having. I’m sure at the time it was a nightmare but I look back on it with lots of smiles and good memories

  33. I took my last exams for gcse in 97 and left school in 99. I cant imagine meeting up with them all again! it sounds like Tony has sound advice for teens now! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time!

  34. Gosh I cant believe that the boy did nothing! This is great advice, my eldest is 13 and I constantly give him similar advice. It’s 21 years since I left school but I am still close with all of my school friends so every time we meet up its like a reunion! Thank you for sharing with us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  35. That last statement for me sums it up perfectly. Do not wait opportunities. My dad used to say that to my sister and I almost everyday and we seem to live by his words even now. As a teacher I have also seen my fair share of bright young people that just couldn’t be bothered to make an effort and expected everything to just fall at their feet. Its very very sad. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassymama

  36. Great post, and so true about that boy. I’d have been furious too. What a waste.

    I’ve not yet been to a school reunion of my own – I left uni 20 years ago next year! But I did go to one of my mum’s with her when we were kids. That was very random and weird to think of parents being at school, and meeting their teachers!

    (If you write a few school themed posts, you’re welcome to come and link up to #schooldays linky which opens on Sundys)

  37. That last sentence sums it up. I’d be cross too with that boy for wasting his opportunity and no doubt when he is older, he will look back and regret it. We are totally different from our school years, he has a lot more growing up to do yet! #BigPinkLink x

  38. The benefit of hindsight, I wish I’d applied myself more at school but I’ve managed to forge a career for myself and I’m still proud of what I’ve achieved. I will encourage my kids to work harder though! Thanks for linking up with the #bigpinklink this week.

  39. It’s such a shame that boy did that… I think most of us did something stupid/trying to be cool that we regret as adults, but that’s going to be a costly one for him… I vividly remember as a teen “knowing” that I was never going to be cool or accepted but that I was clever and that would see me well. So in that respect I’m glad I felt that way because it made me not do things to please other people, I was just myself. But also it’s sad to think that I felt I’d always be on the outside. As an adult, I’m a different person entirely. Such a great post. #RVHT

  40. I don’t even think you’ve changed much! We used to have kids like that at my school, who came with nothing, did nothing and expected everything. It’s so sad. I mean, I didn’t work very hard or do very much and I feel now that I wasted my opportunities. In comparison, I probably didn’t! x


  41. My heart aches for kids today. They live in such a different world to what we did. I’m thankful for having grown up “before” technology to be honest. I can only hope that when my kids are old enough, that I would have laid a good foundation for them. Great post. You look gorgeous 20 years on!! πŸ™‚ #globalblogging

  42. Kate

    How could he sit there and write nothing?! That would make me incredibly cross too! Great post, school seems a lifetime ago! And my school calculator still works too πŸ˜‰ #KCACOLS

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  44. I’ve never been to a school reunion but it would be good to see how everyone had changed. I would have been really annoyed with that boy too. Even if he didn’t feel confident, there must have been something on there he could attempt.
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes πŸ™‚

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