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Graduation is a rite of passage

Posted on June 9, 2016 by Maple Creek

Here and There – By: Dominique Liboiron

From now until the end of June, Grade 12 students across the province will be graduating. This article is dedicated to the Class of 2016 at all the high schools in southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta.
There are many milestones along the path to growing up. Starting Kindergarten, becoming a teenager and getting your driver’s licence are major events. One of the most important milestones for a young person is graduating from high school because it marks a turning point in life. It means adulthood and leaving home to work, travel or pursue higher education. Life changes after high school.
As with any change, there are both good and bad aspects. I think most people would agree that one of the best parts of graduating is getting the freedom to do more of what you want. Some Grade 12 students have known for a while where they want to work and have had to wait patiently to finish school. They’re ready to begin the next stage in life. This is equally true for students who want to attend college or university.
There’s also a downside to saying goodbye to your youth, as any adult will tell you and as I’ll soon talk about. However, for those of us who’ve already graduated let’s not get too nostalgic for high school. It wasn’t all glory years. The anxiety and stress of getting good grades and fitting in are also a part of going to school. These aspects are often forgotten when old-timers get teary-eyed for the past.
For some students, the end of high school is a blessing because it’s an out, a chance to start fresh. Two friends of mine really struggled through high school. They studied and worked hard, but their grades never reflected how much effort they put in.
Neither one was dumb and yet new material simply wouldn’t stick. After graduating, they realized their difficulties were due to learning styles that weren’t compatible with a classroom. My buddies fixed the problem once they identified it. They found a way to teach themselves how to learn and both did very well in university. One obtained a master’s degree, the other a doctorate.
The point of me mentioning them is to say your grades don’t always show how smart you are. If you didn’t get high marks, don’t worry. You’ll find something you’re good at.
The same can be said if you didn’t fit in. You’ll find friends. One cousin of mine hated high school thanks to certain members of her class who made her life hell and not because of anything she did. It’s just that her classmates couldn’t see how smart, funny and interesting she is. To be totally blunt, they were losers. But there were enough of them to make her feel like she had the problem. Since high school, she’s made friends with people from all over the world, trained polo ponies in England, bought a few properties and definitely had the last laugh.
I had several conversations with people who graduated 30 and 40 years ago and was surprised how many said the most difficult part of finishing school was losing track of their friends. The people I spoke with moved from home and so did their pals. Over time, the friendships faded.
I could relate to their comments because the part I liked most about being a student was getting to spend the entire day with my friends. On the other hand, technology has made keeping in touch easy. Just this week, I’ve emailed former cronies in Australia, California and Africa. Not that many years ago, I would’ve had to write them a letter, but that can take a long time and people don’t always reply. Phoning them was possible except that international rates were expensive and the connections weren’t very clear.
When I chatted with those who graduated in the 1960s and ’70s, I realized that the Internet has made losing touch with your buddies a thing of the past. We’ve become so used to modern communication it’s hard to remember or imagine when you couldn’t get in touch with someone instantly. Anyone with access to a computer or smart phone can communicate with the entire world.
Thanks to the Internet, I think 10-year class reunions will become less and less common. There won’t be as much of a need for them because people email each other and stay connected on social media. No more do we wonder, “Whatever happened to so-and-so?”
I want to wish the area’s high school graduates all the best in the future. Enjoy the next part of your life and congratulations on all you’ve accomplished so far.

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