A festive mood overtook downtown Tunis today as high school seniors celebrated finishing the athletic component of their national examinations — and blew off steam before studying for the upcoming academic exam that will determine their college majors.
High school seniors throughout Tunisia took the sports exam this week and will sit for the national Baccalaureate exam in June. Because “the Bac” determines the college studies of graduating high school students, it is a stressful period for both seniors and their parents.
Celebrating the first phase of the national exam — the sports component — has become a tradition passed down through generations of high school seniors.
“This exam happens once in your lifetime and it determines your future,” said Hichem, a high school senior. “Instead of stressing about it, we are trying to have fun. All students gathered here to enjoy themselves before we start the rest of the exams.”
Marwa, a senior, added, “the mood is awesome. We are a bit stressed so this is an opportunity for us to relax before we start the other exams.”
Students save money to contribute to the celebration, giving what they can afford. Then they print out t-shirts with comic slogans related to their studies, hang banners in schools or put on impromptu fireworks diplays.
This morning, seniors from the high school located on Rue de la Russie treated passersby to a musical show as they marched down the street singing and beating large drums.
Onlookers watched the young people and cheered for them. Some stopped to wish them good luck on their exams.
“The Bac exam period is hard on the seniors and parents,” commented Khadija, a mother of two. “I think such celebrations help them feel better and get prepared for their exams. Let them have some fun before they start studying hard.”