When I was in elementary school, there was one graduation that occurred at the end of grade 12. It used to be an event that everyone looked forward to and occurred once in a lifetime. Graduation was a celebration marking the culmination of knowledge and the beginning of the next big adventure. For me, that was university followed by four years in Education when I attended the next graduation ceremony. I recently attended the convocation ceremony for Keyano College. For some, it was the end of a one-year certificate while for others it was the end of a four-year degree. As each graduate crossed the stage I wondered what is next on your journey? Will you stay in Fort McMurray? Will you continue your educational adventures? Will you care for my grandchild as a professional in childcare or perhaps as a nurse?
In 2013, “graduation” may occur in preschool and kindergarten classrooms and at the end of programs such as those for leadership or other notable achievements. I looked up the word graduation and found that it has a variety similes including: windup, closing, culmination and completion. I have to admit that I am a little sad that “graduation” may now occur several times in a child’s academic career beginning as early as preschool. I am not against celebrations, I just feel a little sad that graduating seems to have lost its stature as a unique celebration. So much so that students are choosing not to attend their graduation ceremony. For grade 12 students I am in awe by the amount of money that is spent on many graduates. Some (of course not all) graduates spend oodles of money on dresses, shoes, flowers, suits, car rentals, lavish parties etc. I know of one graduating student whose parents took her to Toronto to find the “perfect dress” so that no one would have a dress like hers at her graduation. (Heaven forbid!)
As my own daughter nears graduation in one short year I have many worries and hope that I am doing a good job at being her mom. I have one year left to help her navigate the world before the world expects her to be able to do this on her own. (Of course I will always be there as a compass, but really the choices are up to her). One day you are still in grade 12 and there is a comfort in being a “kid” and then the next day you are an “adult” – just like that. So, what do I want her to know before she walks across that stage in 14 months from now? Here are a few thoughts.
Be kind to others. The world is full of karma and you never know when it will kick in. Believe in a power higher than you – you never know when you will need to believe in the power of prayer. Continue to surround yourself with people who love you. Pursue education and embrace an attitude of lifelong learning. Be a socially responsible citizen and make volunteering a part of your daily living. Your heart may be broken once or twice – but it will heal and you will find true happiness (sometimes when you are least expecting it). Dance, laugh and sing often – it is who you are. Stay connected to your family – we will love you and support you no matter what.
To all those who will be celebrating an accomplishment this spring I wish you the very best. Whether a child in kindergarten who is off to grade 1, a student in grade 6 off to high school, a student in grade 12 off to face the world or an adult who has completed a community program, this is a culmination of the road behind you and a starting place for the journey ahead. May you be blessed in all your future endeavours.