As someone I know from Melbourne put it, an "advantage" of living in Queensland is that the 12th year of school is optional. Yes, that means many kids here finish school after the 11th grade. I don't really understand all the consequences of making such a decision, but I do believe that a student's chances to attend university are helped by staying in school until the end of Year 12. Regardless, here in SE Queensland the school year is about to end. Therefore, students who are finishing their school lives, known here as "school leavers" or "Schoolies," will soon be out on the beaches celebrating in style. One big draw for the Schoolies is the Gold Coast, which is about an hour away from our home. I found this article, which appeared in today's Courier-Mail, quite fascinating, as it makes me realize (yet again) how much more I need to learn about Aussie culture. For example, try to figure out what a "Toolie" is from this story...
Schoolies-only zone on the Gold Coast
November 12, 2007 11:00pm
THE kids are ready to party, but parents of this year's generation of Schoolies revellers have been warned against giving them the booze to fuel the fire.
The 2007 Schoolies Festival kicks off with a bang on Friday as up to 35,000 school leavers descend on Surfers Paradise, and parents have again been reminded of the penalties facing under-age drinkers.
By law it is not an offence for parents to supply their children with liquor, but once in their possession, the schoolies, most of whom are 16 or 17, face heavy fines.
Under-age drinking, public drunkenness and possession of alcohol in a public place all attract fines of up to $1875.
Entry to this year's Schoolies will be the toughest ever, with personalised, bar-coded wristbands required to enter a special kilometre-long fenced-off section of Surfers Paradise.
The 1.8m high fence will run along the Esplanade and down to the water's edge.
Police and security guards will patrol the perimeter of the special "schoolies pen", turfing out anyone not wearing official Schoolies accreditation.
People who try to gain access to the enclosure by swimming around the side of the fence will also be arrested.
Wristbands have been a common feature of Schoolies Festivals in the past, but this is the first time they have been personalised. It is also the first time an area has been specifically fenced off for the event.
Both measures are designed to stop "Toolies" from spoiling the fun, initiatives welcomed by Benowa High school leavers who could hardly contain their excitement yesterday, celebrating the end of school with a swim at the beach - in full school uniform.
"I think (keeping Toolies out) is definitely a good thing," said Alix Crozier, 17. "It's our party and we don't really want them coming along trying to ruin it."
She also said she could not wait for the party to start.
Also yesterday, Schoolies organisers announced an entertainment program for southern schoolies, who traditionally miss out on most of the concerts and events organised for Queensland graduates during the first 10 days of the festival.
For the first time there will also be official Schoolies events running in the second week of the festival.