Last week was no doubt a memorable one for many local residents as students walked the stage in caps and gowns celebrating a whole host of accomplishments founded in the Red Lake area. Whether they were commemorating the completion of Kindergarten and Grade 8 or receiving their Ontario Secondary School Diplomas, students eagerly shook the hands of their mentors and smiled for photos all while their community basked in the glory of a job well done with tears in their eyes and Kleenex on standby.
Graduation is no small feat. It’s a testament to some serious hard work and dedication that required students to not only open those books and learn the material, but to attempt something new, survive the hallway politics and keep pushing forward when the road got rocky—and the road does get rocky sometimes doesn’t it?
While graduation at any stage of life certainly paves the way for a leap in a new direction, for high school students this sentiment is especially true. Long gone are your days of close parental supervision, homework checks and the comforting familiarity of the teachers you’ve had steering you for the past four or five years. Home cooked meals may soon be a thing of the past as will your weekly allowance, laundry service and Mom and Dad cab rides all over town.
Childhood friends will migrate in different directions as some head off to post secondary schools in bigger communities, others catch flights oversees for international experiences and some run clambering into their new careers eager to put schooling behind them and try their luck at the “real world” they’ve been warned about. It’s hard not to be sentimental and while there are no doubt some serious changes on the horizon, now is hardly the time to feel down in the dumps or sad to be moving on . . . heck there’s so many exciting things that await you out there!
I was an apprehensive graduate. I was absolutely ready to be done high school, make new friends and try something new in theory but when it came time to actually take that step and crawl out from under my parents’ wings, the thought of leaving Red Lake and starting fresh in a new school and in a new community absolutely terrified me.
Did I want to live in residence? Had I picked the right major? Would I get lost trying to navigate the bussing system? Could I survive on Kraft Dinner and chicken noodle soup? What did I want to be when I “grew up”? The whole process was very overwhelming and stress inducing but here’s the thing: I survived. Sure I made some mistakes—I had some longer then expected walks home after getting on the wrong bus, dropped a few classes that didn’t end up being as exciting as I thought they’d be and I absolutely missed the comfort of my own bed on more than one night or two—but my experiences after graduating from high school absolutely helped frame the person who I’ve become now and despite their ups and downs, I wouldn’t change that for the world.
It’s hard not to be anxious when facing anything new. That’s post-graduation lesson number one. The fun part is learning how to overcome that anxiety and finding the confidence you need to push through even the most trying situations and find success no matter how small. And you will push through because here’s the thing, your teachers, your parents, your employers, your family members and friends have all prepared you well for this moment and while I’m sure you’ll shed a tear or two in upcoming weeks, now is the time to take a bite out of life and really discover who you are now and who you will one day become.
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