This past weekend I did something I rarely do on the weekend before the final week of school. It is a time when we are working hard to wrap up the year prior to our students’ departures and a time when most often I feel knee, or even thigh-deep, in work and concerned about completing all of the important tasks at hand.
Just nine weeks ago my baby brother (full disclosure- he’s 43) and his wife had their second child- a little boy named Leo. They live in Halifax, and despite the wonders of technology which had allowed me to see him regularly in pictures on Facebook, and chats on Face Time, I felt the need to be with them and to meet my nephew in person.
As I prepared for my departure on Friday, I was excited but also concerned about the many things that still needed to be accomplished. One of the significant tasks weighing on my mind was my Closing message. I had not yet had that ‘inspirational moment,’ struck by a guiding theme or message about which to speak. Needless to say, this was unsettling for me.
While I know myself well enough to be assured that I would complete the task, I have always felt that Closing is one of the most important and opportune times to relay a message to our departing Graduates as it is the last time we will most likely have every one of them in our midst. I wanted the comfort of a focus or direction.
As I stand before you this evening, celebrating our Clementines completion of another year and the tremendous accomplishments of our Graduates in particular, I do so with a simple, yet important message.
As I left Toronto heading east, my path to clarity, like the literal journey I was on, evolved. While my required work remained the same, the environment around me changed. I was flying for a couple of hours, unreachable by work, friends or family, and then would land in a different part of the country and a different home and surroundings. Without a doubt, where I was going was familiar to me, which brought comfort, however it was a change of scene and a new reality.
My arrival brought a shift for me from Principal and SCS Community member to sister, sister-in-law, and Aunt. It brought an opportunity to step away from my day to day life to enter that of family. It brought me time to talk through my brother’s perspectives about his work and experiences, family time and perhaps, most importantly, it brought me an opportunity for simple play, imagination, and laughter with my three year old nephew Oscar.
I had opted to step away, and in doing so was afforded a chance to refocus and to pause- something that is vitally important to each and every one of us- whether students, staff, parents, alumnae or friends. In particular, this opportunity brought me what I needed.
Kristin Armstrong, a US Olympian said “It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.“
Sitting in our midst, celebrating their final Closing as Clementines and moving on to new starting points is a truly remarkable group of Graduates. The class of 2015 has much about which to be proud, and has contributed to our St. Clement’s Community in diverse and exceptional ways. They have blessed us with their commitment, their time, their enthusiasm, and their important perspectives and I for one am very thankful to them for this.
As you, our Graduates, leave us, trust that a vast number of opportunities will arise out of your new starting points. Graduating from SCS and heading on to your next stage of learning and life is an inevitable new starting point. It is time to go and I have no doubt you are ready. However, along the way there will be other starting points that are unexpected, or unwanted, and it is these moments that will cause you to question yourselves, ask why you are being challenged, and even occasionally cause you to feel the need to give up.
Trust that as Armstrong says, a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start will afford you new options and new possibilities. As difficult as it may seem, know that you will get through these moments and you will be able to look back and appreciate your learning, your growth and your new perspectives. Those around you who have worked with you, taught you, coached you and supported you have confidence in you and most importantly will always be there for you. Despite graduating from SCS, know that this community will always be here for you- at 21 St. Clements, or at the end of the phone line, the text, or the email.
To the class of 2015, thank you for leaving St. Clement’s a better place than you found it, for your courage, intellectual curiosity and compassion. You are outstanding women.
To all of you in our St. Clement’s Community, may you enjoy time away over the summer that brings shifts, pauses and resets.