I would like to welcome students, staff, parents, alumnae – Old Girls and special guests to this year’s Closing Ceremonies. It is hard to believe that behind these beautiful gowns are the young girls who we encouraged to imagine the possibilities beyond St. Margaret’s. I think we can all be proud of the roles we have played in their success stories to date, knowing we have supported and nurtured them to get to this very important place in their lives. Now they are on their way to make their dreams a reality.
The Closing Ceremonies is a time to showcase and celebrate the accomplishments of our student body and to formally say good bye to the retirees who are sitting here on stage. These individuals – Cecilia Penner, Harry Duimering, Rose Proudfoot, Suzanne Ives, and last but not least, Keith Wilson who could not be with us today. They have devoted what seems like a life time of service (over 85 years in total), in creating a learning environment specific for girls while comfortably sharing their expertise with the students. We wish them the very best on their next adventure and hope they will remain connected to the school. We look forward to hearing all about their success stories in the same way we look forward to hearing from our graduates as they pursue their dreams.
Now onto our Grads:
Closing Ceremonies represents the end of your formal education and the beginning of your life journey independent of your parents and teachers’ advice even though they still think “they know best”. It’s a funny thing being a parent – our goal is to help you become independent and strong young women capable of making your own life-defining decisions. But the moment you demonstrate that ability to take care of yourself, we feel a huge void and don’t want to let you go!! So to our grads: Be kind to your parents and help them shift into the role of mentor: guiding you to explore new ways to learn and grow; encouraging you to view new challenges as a means to test assumptions of what you are capable of achieving; and finally helping you seek new opportunities that go beyond what you have experienced to date.
During your time at SMS, the staff has tried to help you find yourselves – to spark your interests, celebrate your talents, explore your passions; to help you believe in possibilities and finally, to believe in yourselves. Sometimes that learning journey has been challenging and at other times, joyful! Overall, you have accrued sufficient “life experiences” to start your own narrative and won’t have to defer to others to define your successes!
What is exciting but possibly frightening as you leave this place, which for some has been your second home for many years, is that there is no longer a CORE CURRICULUM you are required to learn! Life now becomes an ELECTIVE with infinite pathways towards success that will be driven by your willingness to take risks and to step out of your comfort zone. I would encourage you to seek the companionship of those people who will support you and encourage you, who will challenge and inspire you, and who will never allow their needs to trump yours. Create that tribe of friends, family members, mentors and role models that will help you build your confidence and competence.
There has been an abundance said about the power of girls and at St. Margaret’s we have had the privilege of witnessing that first hand. We have observed you being funny, anxious, loud, assertive, creative and adventurous. We have seen you with messy hair, short skirts, grad wear, slippers and cell phones attached to your bodies. We have seen you curled up on the couch daydreaming, breaking out into spontaneous laughter, raising your hands and leaping in unison, being outrageous during spirit week, and reclaiming your independence when a rule did not meet your sense of fairness. We have celebrated your growth as compassionate leaders modelling Servite in Caritate within the school context and in the community AND we have watched you practice your leadership skills and exercise your voice to advocate for yourselves and for others less fortunate.
all of these situations, you have been your authentic selves reminding us you are not ordinary but rather extraordinary. It is important for you to celebrate those things that make you unique, special, and strong and to really appreciate those perfect “imperfections” that make you stand out as individuals. Remember -- Real beauty comes from within!
As you begin this new journey post St. Margaret’s, I would like to share the following quote:
“For what it is worth: it is never too late or too early to be whoever you want to be.
There is no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same;
there are no rules to this thing called life. We can make the best or the worst of it.
I hope you can make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope
you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with different points
of view. I hope you live a life you are proud of AND if you find that you are not,
I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
Try to remember that you make small decisions with your head and the big decisions with your heart. On behalf of the SMS learning community, congratulations and best wishes – Try to remember, success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.