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  • Writer's pictureCity of Edmonton Youth Council

Dear 2021 HighSchool Graduates

Written and Edited By Sithara Naidoo

GoogleMeet. Zoom. Google Forms. Quarterly classes. Words that you’ve probably heard hundreds of times throughout your final year of high school. What do they all have in common?

The pandemic? These “unprecedented times”? Online learning? Yes, they are definitely common side effects of Covid-19, but they are also the product of change.

All of you resilient individuals finished a year of undeniable change, and although it may not be the senior year you imagined nor the one you deserve, it was transformative in its own way.

As a 2020 graduate myself, I still feel cheated by the way my high school experience ended and by my first year of online university. However as I reflect on this whole situation and as I heal my unwelcome feelings, I try to remember that change can be positive and that it’s actually the most normal part of life.

When I was 16, I had the privilege and opportunity to travel to Spain as a part of the Alberta Education Exchange Program. As a young person who could speak a grand total of five phrases in Spanish, I was terrified to spend ten weeks abroad in a fully immersive environment. It took a couple weeks of adjustment and language learning to finally feel comfortable in this new home, which was a worthy price to pay for one of the most important lessons learned.

Several weeks into my trip abroad, I was eating dinner with my host mom, Diana. I was finally feeling confident with the language and we were at the point where we could have a conversation beyond our day and the weather. As we discussed more profound and complex topics, Diana shared stories from her childhood as well as her life motto : El cambio es el único constante. In English, the phrase translates to “Change is the only constant”. In other words, change is unavoidable and it will always be present throughout your life.

At this stage in most of your lives, you have probably experienced changes in friends, schools, the loss of loved ones or moving houses. Maybe you had a difficult class or were cut from a team. As you accumulate more life experiences, these changes will grow larger and present itself in your post secondary education, a change in your career path, a new city, an impromptu trip, a breakup or losing a job, among a plethora of other moments. In times like these, change may be synonymous with words like fear and uncertainty, but it can also mean growth, experience and learning.

Even though grade 12 may have felt like a flop, it was a year of change that helped you grow and develop. I hope that you use it as motivation to push forward and enjoy the years to come to their fullest potential, or carpe diem as the poets like to say.

Remember that “change is the only constant” and whether you perceive it as good or bad, it will come knocking at your door. When faced with these moments of change, I encourage you to embrace and explore them. It’s important to seize the opportunity and to step outside of your comfort zone so you can become the best version of yourself and experience what life has to offer – maybe you’ll join that club and make a new friend or try that class and discover a new passion.

As you end and reflect on this 12 year chapter in your life, don’t shy away from the changes around the corner. You are brilliant ; the world is brighter and better with you in it and is ready for the change you will make!

Congratulations on graduating and best wishes for the future on behalf of the City of Edmonton Youth Council. Hurrah!

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