By Matt Owen
We’ve all seen the tribal rite of passage videos that were responsible for the craze that probably inspired Bungee jumping. Well, we have our own version of this on Bribie (without ropes, and off the bridge, not from a tree!), but it isn’t a ritual to signify manhood, womanhood, marriage or some other significant physical, cultural, or spiritual milestone. It’s because School Is Out! After 12 years of schooling, it’s time to enter the world as an adult. So, we will call it a transition to adulthood ritual, Bribie-style. Imagine this. Your eyes are closed, you are standing about 20m above the water, you can feel the gentle breeze coming across the passage, you are full of excitement with your best friend next to you, you are nervously shaking because you are well and truly out of your comfort zone. You don’t know what is next, but above all you are pumped and good to go.
3-2-1! You jump at 1, due to your nervous energy, and you get the most exhilarating feeling for a bit over a second before you slide through the water, smiling and laughing. That second is something you will never forget. This is the Bribie Bridge jump for our Year 12 graduates. The emotions at this stage must be running high, as finishing something after 12 years and heading into the unknown is big, right? After 12 years of school, it’s now time for the Bribie Island State High School Class of 2021 to take the next step in their life. But before they head off to further study, to embark on a career or trade, or, dare I say, travel (but that’s another story). The tradition of jumping off the Bribie Island Bridge for local high school students didn’t start in 1990, which was the first year of graduates. Like many traditions they take a few years to develop and I would say that it was the late 90s when the graduation bridge jump commenced, and the tradition has continued for around 20 years. The details are sketchy because my personal view as a foundation student (Year 8 student in the first year of operation in 1989), is that the tradition started slowly with a few friends one year and gradually built to become a mainstream event. Kudos to those who started and supported it, as it’s now a wonderful rite of passage into adulthood for our local graduates. As one door closes, another opens.
A special mention and wink to those who turn a blind eye to this rite of passage. Sometimes the right thing to do is nothing; in this instance precautions are taken, and safety processes are in place - so any fun police and keyboard warriors can move on, because this is a local ritual and one of the very few traditions unique to the island that we have, and is a reward for our youth. Looking back to graduating from High School, it’s probably the most exciting time of your life. The relatively strict regime and support network of school is over, the parental reins have loosened and the whole world is waiting for you. I look back 25 years (give or take!) and recall it was the excitement of the unknown, and probably the only feeling to match this is to be an expecting parent for the first time. Not to sound prudish, my tip is to really enjoy the next few years before the serious responsibilities of family life, mortgages and a career take over. Now I’m not saying the rest of your life won’t be fun or rewarding, but I will say it will be different to your next 3-5 years after Grade 12. The 12-year journey of school commences from around five years of age and when it finishes you walk out a young adult. Just think of an average five-year old and how they rely so much on adults and teachers. The role of education, human nature and parenting is amazing when you look at the drastic changes over this period. While writing this article I paused to reminisce about my own education. The singing in Music, football, handball, skipping and watching the Arts Council performances spring to my mind as personal highlights. Take a minute and think of some of yours. It is without doubt the most growth that will happen across your life. You may mature between 17 and 29 but nothing like between 5 and 17 - for most of us anyway! A big Congratulations to the Class of 2021. You have made your school and community proud; and a round of applause for those who have played a role in nurturing you along your journey!
This ritual is something that is unique to Bribie and it is something I look forward to seeing every year for the rest of my life. Imagine it happening for the 100th time. Now that will be cool.