Transitions and Celebrations
Honouring our 2021 Graduates
I’ve been reflecting on the graduation experience for both our Grade 8 and Grade 12 students. The past two years have recreated how we celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of these young people and how we recognize their transitions to a new phase in their lives.
Passages such as these can be formative in how we fashion our next steps in life. It’s a time of eager anticipation and contemplative reflection.
“Now is the time to make sure we have the strings of all the balloons we want to keep before they all float away.” – Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven King
Rather than try to provide my personal and professional thoughts I decided to share what the valedictorians for both graduating classes said in their commencement addresses.
Micah Albert, Grade 8 Valedictorian – The Biggest Challenge Yet
“Welcome family, friends, teachers and staff, and of course, my fellow 8th grade graduates. I’m Micah Albert and I am the 8th grade Valedictorian. It is an absolute privilege to represent the graduating class of 2021.
“While this day is an amazing accomplishment, let’s look at what it took to get here. Like the all-nighters we had to pull to finish assignments because we are masters at procrastination. Followed by the realization that the teachers were right when they said the project was too big to finish in one night. Which leads to messaging Ms. Bousfield at 3 in the morning to ask for an extension. And though that plays a crucial role, let’s acknowledge the obstacles that we had to overcome. They started smaller at first. But now we have faced the biggest challenge yet. It goes by the name Covid-19.
“Sure, at first it was amazing. Getting to wake up 10 minutes before class, saying our camera doesn’t work or our WIFI went out and googling the answers to every math test. Surely none of us did the last one. But over time it got harder. Constantly being at home, missing sports, or activities and friends. I never thought we would actually miss school. Or be graduating with a Microsoft teams’ diploma. Yet, here we are. This shows how resilient and strong we are. How we were able to take a very difficult situation and adapt to it.
“Shakuntala Devi once said “Education is not just about going to school and getting a diploma. It’s about widening your knowledge and absorbing the truth about life.”
“I think that’s something Mrs. Butterfield and Mrs. Dawn have been trying to teach us as well. Like in History or Science when we would ask the most common and dreaded question “What weight is this?” But after many frequent, long talks I truly understood that school isn’t just about a number on paper. Because mistakes and failing are a part of learning. If we truly knew everything and aced every test we took without those bumps along the way, then what is the point of school? School is about learning and bettering the skills in our tool belt for when we are sent out into the real world. Yes, unfortunately it gets harder. But that’s okay. Because we will be prepared and able to adapt.
“We have grown not only as students, but also people. And although we weren’t able to go on many of the school trips, we have still made amazing memories in our time together.
“I also want to give a huge thank you to the teachers and staff for putting in hard work to make the transition to online school easier. And finding ways to make learning entertaining. Thank you to our families who supported us throughout it all. Congratulations to the 8th grade graduating class of 2021.”
Ahmad Mahmoud, Grade 12 Valedictorian – Speed Bumps And Growth
“You know what’s interesting? I vividly remember, in the week before my first year in grade 9, telling myself ‘These people aren’t going to be your real friends, you’re going to go in, hang out for four years, and then never see them again.’ I was excited for high school, don’t get me wrong, but I was close minded, thinking that ‘my life has been perfectly fine up until this point, there’s no need to change it’.
“That changed quickly. In fact, a lot of stuff changed for me over the years. I came into this school thinking I knew everything and that I’d transition smoothly into my first year of high school. You guys know when you’re approaching a speed bump and severely underestimate said speed bump and everything in the car goes flying? I severely underestimated that speed bump.
“Everything was different, the work, the people, the whole routine I was so used to for all those years completely fell apart in this new environment. But it was exciting.
“The teachers and staff I’ve met in these four years have been some of the most insightful, influential people I’ve ever met. Not only do they each have such strong passions for what they teach, but they genuinely yearn for your growth as a student. They won’t spoon feed you, but they’ll gladly give you the help you need when you’re willing to put the effort yourself. Now, do some teachers have to regularly offer their two cents on your occasionally ambitious hair? No, but it does add to the air of gentle fun that make our relationships with them that much more personal and enjoyable, so thank you to all the staff for your energy and guidance. And of course, thank you to all the parents for pushing us on as well.
“That leaves us with the students. I can’t put into words how much I appreciate you guys. The most exciting thing for me every day when I wake up in the morning is the thought of seeing you all when I come to school. Nothing makes me happier than to see you smiling and laughing, and the memories we’ve made are something I will cherish forever.
“It’s because of you that I’m proud to be Ahmad Mahmoud, Valedictorian of MacLachlan College’s graduating class of 2021. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for four unforgettable years.”
I continue to find it remarkable how well MAC students adapt and each of them, in their own way, discover their path to re-imagining possibilities.
On behalf of the entire MAC community we celebrate with you and wish you a future filled with wonder.