Last month across the Lakeland, hundreds of graduates finised a milestone in their lives. From Kindergarten to post secondary students, one chapter closes and another opens for the graduates as they venture off into the next part of their education and even their careers.
For the loved ones and educators who have helped shape the graduates and cheered them on, it was definitely an emotional experience. I can’t help but think how the pandemic has shifted so many of the memories that the students have made over the years and how it forced them to adjust to a new normal at a time when they’re just figuring out who they are.
Speaking to graduates in Lac La Biche and educators, I could sense the challenges of making ends meet, struggling to have students in the classroom and the mental health challenges that came with losing a social environment because of the pandemic. Generally, the school environment fosters growth, learning new ideas and helping shaping our childhoods before we become young adults and I think most of us remember and hold on to that for the rest of our lives. I know my memories from Kindergarten to Grade 12, classrooms were a great place where I consistently met new friends, had mentors and learned more about myself and what direction I wanted to take. Throughout university the experiences were similar—just with more independence and responsibilities.
The class of 2022 has missed out on certain segments of that by having to adjust to the new normal, but they're stronger for it too. Life isn’t easy and there is always going to be one adversity after another, but today that group of graduates are better prepared. Throughout their lives I think the challenges they faced by adjusting to online school, missing out on events and the mental impact of wondering if the future would ever be the same again was especially daunting for them. The group is resilient, I think they’ll use those challenges they faced today to support their futures and dream even bigger. The light at the end of the tunnel is here for them.
And whatever path they take to follow their dreams, I think if you are a loved one watching the graduates move forward, you can be aware that the class of 2022 is strong and better prepared for their next journey.