Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Elementary graduation marks beginning of new journey

As a vice-principal in the elementary system, I have an opportunity each year around this time to impart some principal-like advice to the graduating Grade 8s.

Elementary school graduation is a special milestone and marks the beginning of a new journey, full of exciting new opportunities. To quote the great philosopher and wise man Dr. Seuss in his literary masterpiece Oh The Places You’ll Go, “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!!”

To parents, it probably seems like just yesterday that your little ones were off to their first day of Kindergarten and were reliant on you for their every need. Although some parents may be thinking that not a lot has changed, we all know that these little ones are no longer little. They are developing into reliable, trustworthy citizens who are beginning to make their mark in the world. Today is not only an end, it is also a beginning.

To students, at the end of Grade 8, when looking back at your time in elementary school, it always seems hard to believe how fast the time goes. The memories of the time that you spent in elementary school will be ones that you will continue to look back on and cherish throughout your lives. However, you will also have memories of the challenges that you have undergone during this time, just as there will continue to be mountains to climb and challenges to meet throughout your path in life.

There are many of you who seem to have wings that allow you to soar over the obstacles that cross your path. This ability to meet challenges with a positive attitude is a wonderful gift. However, not everyone soars over obstacles with such ease. Some of you are more comfortable using your feet to climb steadily toward your goals. This resiliency and focus will also serve you well as you forge your path through life.

Some of the memories that you have of your time in elementary school probably involve the wonderful opportunities that you seized, academic as well as social and extra-curricular. As you transition to high school, my advice is to continue soaring, continue boldly stepping forward to climb that mountain. You have the power to make the years that lie ahead of you phenomenal. I can assure you, as you move through your time in high school, the years will fly by even faster than your time in elementary school so make the most of each and every day.

For some of you the beginning of high school may be a fresh start. I urge you to continue to take advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way. Participate in as many activities and experiences as you can. Get involved, seize the chance to surround yourself with positive people who will enrich your life and focus on making choices that will help you to meet your goals.

I would like to leave you with a couple of final thoughts as you move into this exciting time in your lives. To paraphrase author Carl Bard, “You can’t go back and make a brand new start, but you can start today and make a new ending”. Although your parents and teachers can give you good advice and try to put you on the right path, in the end, where you go in life ultimately lies within you.

Today’s students live with change happening at a rapid pace, but as a result they are adaptive, creative and have the knowledge and determination to take on the world. So, to all of the students graduating next week, please remember, the next chapter of your life lies in front of you unwritten, unscripted, full of hope, promise and excitement. Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Whatever your future looks like, the education that you receive will propel you to anywhere you want to go.

Lastly, to remind you of who is writing that next chapter, a final Quote from Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know and you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

Always believe in yourself! And “Oh the Places You Will Go!”