By Lindsay Briscoe

The other day I went back to GLC to snap some photos of the school’s graduating class. On my way out one of the custodial staff asked me if I remembered my own graduation at GLC. Of course I do! I remember being excited about taking a boy from grade nine, then being too nervous to talk to him and thinking when does the party start?! when the speeches started dragging on – as speeches do.

So, even though there’s lots to say, I’ll keep this one short and sweet. These are lessons I learned when I moved away to Halifax for university. I arrived on a train from Red Lake Road and knew absolutely no one. The lessons came fast.

• Making new friends might be a challenge, especially if you grew up in the area and never really had to. Step outside your comfort zone. If you really want to talk to that particularly cool person but can’t figure out how to do it, just remember, that person is probably thinking the same thing about you.

• Keep the high school reminiscing to a minimum. You’re onto bigger and better things! Your new friends have no clue who or what you’re talking about anyway.

• You’re going to meet all kinds of people of different ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds – people you may never have been exposed to. Strike up a conversation. It’s the best way to understand each other.

• Don’t get bummed out when your bank teller or bus driver doesn’t return your smile. Not everyone comes from a place where smiling and waving at everyone you meet is normal.

• In a big class – and even in some of the smaller ones – your instructor might talk to you like you’re a number on a list. He or she likely won’t care you graduated at the top of your class. Find ways to stand out and earn their respect now.

• Find out exactly what plagiarism is before you start writing anything…then avoid it like the plague (a former roommate of mine was nearly expelled when she unintentionally copied someone else’s work. It happens).

• I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times but here’s to driving it home: Wikipedia is a good starting point for research but it shouldn’t form the basis of any assignment you do. Check the references at the bottom of Wikipedia instead – they’re more reliable. Also, Libraries are not obsolete. They’re also great places to get work done (or just pick up a coffee and clear your head while you people-watch).

• You’re going to feel overwhelmed trying to decide what to study. Philosophy? Cosmetology? Business? Welding? You might switch several times before you get it right. Try asking yourself three simple questions: Do I like what I’m doing? Will I be able to get a job when I graduate? And, do I really need to take that “Bob Dylan and the Literature of the 60s” course? Hey, why not? I did, and while I’m sure my parents questioned that decision, it’s certainly not the worst one I ever made.

• Thrift store clothes are cool and they’ll work with your (likely) modest student budget. Everyone will want to know where you got that sweater vest, I swear.

• The popularity contest is over. If it isn’t, you’re probably hanging out with the wrong crowd. True friends accept your quirks.

• Most of your graduating class is likely going away to school somewhere. If you’re not, don’t get down on yourself. Take some time to figure out what you truly love and could see yourself putting your energy into – whether that means going away to school or entering the workforce – and find some people (family, friends, teachers, co-workers) who are willing to help you get there.

Grade eight graduates: The high school is much smaller than it seems and Subway is not a food group. Have fun!

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