Last Friday, I addressed the 2013 graduating class of St. Mary School in Taber. It was a special evening for me in particular, as many of these students were in my last kindergarten class. In 2001, I left the principalship of St. Patrick, where these students attended kindergarten. This group is the last connection to my teaching career in schools. Although I’ve coached many students since then, these students were the last that I ever had as students, even if I was only their principal and taught them physical education. It was a profound moment and it caused me to reflect on my own journey as an educator. Later this summer, I’ll post on those reflections, but until then, please enjoy my address!
St. Mary Address
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, honored guests and St Mary Graduates of 2013. It is a great pleasure to be here tonight and bring greetings from the entire school division. This group holds a very special place in my heart as they were the last group of students, starting kindergarten in my final year as principal of St. Patrick School. I knew some of them better than others as they had older siblings that I taught and so I had the pleasure of watching many of them come into the school with moms and dads and participate in many of the family activities that are such a part of our school system in Taber. And so as the last year of being in a school as a principal before entering senior administration, I hold on to those memories with great fondness.
Although graduates, it is your theme, “hold onto the memories”, I want to begin tonight by speaking to your parents. Holding onto the memories for us parents is like building a scrapbook. That scrapbook may be in pictures or videos but our most important memories are etched into our minds and hearts. We remember the day you were born and the first time we held you. We remember your first words and your first steps. We remember your first day in school. For some, this was your first child entering school and there were a few tears; for others it was your last and there were a few tears too…but for different reasons. We even remember, although we’ve tried to forget, when you openly defied us or even maybe even said that you hated us. And we remember this past year, last night and we will remember and hold on to the memories of tonight too! Each of the graduates has created a scrapbook of memories for all of us parents.
The beauty of a small graduating class is the intimacy, the ability to retell the class history and to remember the memories. Each of you will hold on to different memories from your years in school. They may be your kindergarten graduation or your grade 5 farewell. They may be speech arts or outdoor ed trip, or sports or music or… the list is endless. Hold on to those memories…all of them. Celebrate the good ones and always remember to learn from the ones that weren’t so good!
More importantly, now it is time to create your own memories. It is time to choose your own path. You have been gifted with a strong foundation from your family and your schooling. This strong foundation has allowed both your physical and your spiritual self to grow and develop. You now have all the tools to create lasting memories that will honor you, honor your family and honor God. The memories that you’ve already created will pale in comparison to the memories that you will make in your future.
As a parent, for many your first principal and now the Superintendent, I thank you for the memories you have already created. Holy Spirit has been blessed to part of your growth and development and I will forever remember my last class and this evening. Now go out and create the memories that will reflect who you are and want to be as a unique creation of God. May God continue to bless you in your past, present and future memories! Good luck and God Bless!