Dear Parents and Staff,
As we go on, we remember
All the times we had together
And as our lives change, from whatever
We will still be, friends forever.
Graduation Song - Vitamin C
I hope you have had a very good year. The significance of this year came to me over the last few weeks as I attended many, many exceptional year-end events. Every one of them celebrating the amazing strengths, talents, and successes of our students and staff.
In education, it is perhaps difficult to see the positive impact of what you do on a daily basis - enriching the lives of the students in your care. No matter what role you play, in support or directly in the classroom, your goal is to improve the life opportunities for all students. It is not necessarily like building a house or painting a picture. The results of your combined efforts may not materialize right away. Changes are slow to come - yet it is at this time of year that the fruits of your labour begin to show.
I visit our schools on a regular basis and make a point of saying, "Hello" to the people I meet in the field. I see the pride that our grounds crew take in the careful installation of a playground. I see the efforts that our building engineers undertake - doing such a great job to keep our facilities clean. I notice the welcoming faces of our secretaries and clerks in the school offices. I feel the strength of leadership among our school principals and vice principals. I hear the words of encouragement and patience among our support staff in the classrooms and I am constantly inspired by the work that our teachers undertake to ensure the success of all. Thank you to everyone for your amazing contributions and dedication to a system that is becoming ever more complex each day.
The rewards that you may not always see are captured in the smiles of our students as they walk across the stage to receive their certificates of graduation. It shows in the faces of the parents, their eyes moist with happiness, their thoughts going back to those first few days of Kindergarten which seemed like only yesterday. The trepidation as their hands slipped away from their child on that first day of school - releasing him or her to our trust so long ago. I hear the shouts of camaraderie among the graduating classmates from the grade 7's going on to high school to the Adult Education students reaching a pivotal and life changing accomplishment in their own lives. The graduates will soon part ways, each taking a different route to a successful future. Many will forge new pathways, taking, as Robert Frost once intoned, the road less travelled by.
Who are these fine people dressed up, smart, shiny, polished and looking like they can take on the world - which they can! Their achievements will be measured, not by tests, but by their on-going contributions to our society. I can't help but reflect on how your collective efforts over the years as support staff, teachers, and administrators have helped guide and facilitate their successes.
Parents too are to be commended for your unending support - that will go on long after high school! You are to be congratulated as you graduate along with your child, walking vicariously across the stage with your son or daughter as they collect their certificates.
We see young students complete their elementary school years and, as a right of passage, help celebrate with parents their transition on to high school. Here too are some proud times and reflections of the many school events, concerts, trips, projects, and birthday parties which have served as markers along the way. For our students, the immediacy of this year and the memories, which are formed, now may be fleeting. Yet, for the team bringing these times to fruition, the cyclical pattern of the school year, and the events, which have transpired throughout leave indelible impressions. These are the constant Kodak moments, which we will recall in years hence.
The rhythm of the calendar brings a change in grade level, graduation, a close to the school year and along with it, for some, it brings well-deserved retirement. I attended many such celebrations this year and was privileged to offer a few words at some of these functions. I recently spoke to a full house of spry, vital retirees about how appreciative we are of the time, energy and commitment each has made to our district and, in particular, for our students. They have, indeed, blazed the trail for us all to follow. What a pleasure it was to shake hands and wish our colleagues and friends well in their future years of well-earned retirement. It was not the collective age of the honorees that was noteworthy; it was the collective wisdom that leaves each year as they call it a day. Somehow, we need to capture that practical knowledge to benefit those of us who follow.
For some of you, I recognize that this is a time of worry about job prospects and assignments. This also seems to be a regular part of our year, albeit an unfortunate cycle, within our system. I want to acknowledge your time with us, wish you well and hope that you will remain a part of Vancouver.
As with most weeks, I visited four schools this week - it was good to get out of the office. Everyone welcomed me with smiles and warm greetings. In spite of the challenges we face and the uncertainty that lies ahead, people were in great spirits. Students were excited, anticipating the long, lazy days of summer. Teachers, support staff and administrators were counting down the hours looking forward to the change of pace, rest and time with family and friends.
In closing this year, I want to thank everyone for your hard work, dedication and commitment to our district and for our students. I also want to thank you for the support you give to one another. I firmly believe that our school district is second to none. It is strong, vibrant and full of promise - thanks to your efforts. My best wishes go to you all for a safe, fun, and relaxing summer.
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Superintendent of Schools