During one of my recent purges of things I no longer need, I came across my childhood diaries.
Aside from my frequent declarations of love for Donny Osmond, descriptions of outfits I wore to dances and what I ate for dinner, one entry stood out. Written when I was in Grade 8, it describes my love for school and the fact that I was feeling blue about school ending for Christmas break.
There is no doubt that by the time I finished high school, I welcomed any and all breaks. But at 13, I was enamored of school, from learning both French and German to the friends I made and the chance to perform on stage in The Mikado.
I remember my first day of Grade 8. The school I was attending was on the other side of town and all of my friends from elementary school were attending the local high school. My dad dropped me off at the bus stop and I told him how nervous I was. I believe my wonderful, loving father said something along the lines of, “You’ll be fine,” and off I went.
And I was fine. I made friends, and I discovered a love of learning I didn’t know I had.
So it was on Sept. 5 this year that I walked my daughter to her new school on her first day of Grade 8 and what also happened to be her 13th birthday. She was terrified, which I acknowledged while also telling her what an adventure she was beginning.
Her experience was similar to mine in that all of her friends would be attending a different school, and I know how scary that can be. I was excited for her to begin her new adventure, while at the same time filled with a bit of apprehension which of course I kept to myself. She was leaving a school where she knew all of the teachers as well as kids she had been with since kindergarten.
But as it turns out, my brand-new teen is already enjoying school more in the past three weeks than she did the last two years of elementary school, which were less-than-positive for a number of reasons. What I am already seeing is a kid — who had lost interest in school — renew her love of learning.
She comes home every day, excited about what she has learned and wanting to share with us. I was concerned that the double blocks would be something to dread, but that hasn’t proved to be the case.
And on Wednesday, when Vernon Secondary School held its Grade 8 parent night, we had the chance to meet some of the teachers, as well as principal Ken Gatzke and vice-principal Rana Grace. It was a great opportunity to see the classrooms, to learn a little more about the courses, to enjoy spectacular chocolate chip cookies and to feel huge pride in this amazing facility that educates around 900 kids every day.
As always, I’m in awe of the teachers in this district, in awe of their dedication, their hard work, their enthusiasm for teaching the finer points of the Pythagorean theorem, how to make perfect blueberry muffins, unravelling the mysteries of the French language and explaining the inner workings of a microscope.
I met educators who clearly have a love of teaching, teachers who in three short weeks seem to already know their students and are taking the time to engage and encourage them.
And of course, in addition to enjoying the academic aspect of high school, my daughter is equally enthusiastic about having her own locker, buying grilled cheese sandwiches in the cafeteria and being allowed to leave the school grounds at lunch time.
May this enthusiasm for school continue for the next five years.