My most cherished aspect of working in a school is seeing the children enter high school at the age of 11, full of potential, wonder, curiosity and enthusiasm and then five years later, have the unbelievable privilege of seeing them walk across the stage at graduation as confident, passionate, driven and mature young women and men who are prepared to tackle the next phase of their development and spread their wings in post-secondary education.
The five high school years are transformational in every way:
- They grow physically, mentally and emotionally.
- They mature and begin to see the world differently, through the lens of a young adult who wants to change the world.
- They begin to realize how vast the world is and how connected we all are and the far away places suddenly appear much closer.
- They become more knowledgeable, more curious to learn about what they are truly interested in and their interests turn into passions.
- Their minds are opened to new possibilities and they begin to see themselves as major actors in this play called life, as they slowly find their place in society and within the global reality.
The school experience at any age level should provide each child with opportunities to explore new realms, to discover new ways of learning, to uncover the mysteries of knowledge, to develop and self-discover and be presented with possibilities that were previously unknown to them.
Students further develop the attributes of respect, honesty, compassion, perseverance and empathy and this creates a positive impact on the climate and culture of their school.
Resiliency is also necessary but not necessarily acquired at this stage. Life can be challenging and many teens will struggle as expectations rise and they face the pressures associated with adolescence. In many ways, they are left on their own to navigate this complex and ever-changing path. As adults, we do our best but we are also learning to navigate these unchartered waters as the world around us changes rapidly and our child’s digital presence competes with our personal memories of growing up.
During the trying times, we must keep the end goal in mind and always focus on the moment when these beacons of the future will walk across the stage at graduation. We will all be filled with pride and wonder as the almost unrecognizable child, now a young adult, is prepared to tackle the world and make a difference.