Submitted by Christine Whelan
Aug 5th, 2021 VOL. 2 ISSUE 25
How did the graduating Class of 2021 get through this year? What were the challenges and how did they cope while traveling a journey no other group their age has traveled in our history?
No one knows what these students experienced this past year, to get that diploma in their hands, better than GFESS’s first and only principal, Fred Louws.
Graduation: How They Got There
Facing The Challenges
Principal Louws watched as the students faced ongoing changes to how their schooling was delivered. “From being co-hosted, learning one subject a day for four hours, asynchronous and synchronous learning, in-person and fully online.”
But he added, “Our kids adapted very quickly to these changes and learning modes, leaning on each other and working with their teachers, along with help from their parents.”
Another challenge, Louws included, was handling the cancellation of all things extracurricular. “School clubs, athletics, drama productions, Students’ Council activities, and even all of their activities outside of school. This lack of socialization really impacted our kids.”
The principal commented, “I am impressed with their resiliency in how they came together to support one another.”
And Stepping Up
“I was also impressed with some of our students in how they balanced all of their responsibilities of school with helping their families taking care of younger siblings, older relatives, and in some cases their parents. Coupled with this, many students found employment which helped out in our sectors that are considered essential.”
Some of the kids helped our seniors within the town by shoveling their driveways and sidewalks throughout the winter.
Louws shared an incredible story, “I had a graduate from GFESS just message me the other day to share how, along with completing his high school diploma here at GFESS, he just found out that he has been successfully accepted into the Royal Canadian Navy. This young man had been working on all of his courses from GFESS while at the same time had joined the Canadian Armed Forces. This has been his dream and passion for a while now, so for him to achieve what he had been working so hard for, at a young age, is very impressive.”
The principal heard firsthand about another student who had been accepted on a full scholarship for soccer in the US. “She continued with a very extensive training program throughout the pandemic, while keeping a very high academic average.”
He didn’t want to leave anyone out. “This is just another, of many, impressive stories from our graduating Class of 2021, plus many others from the rest of our student body.”
Looking To The Future
With empathy, Louws shared, “I feel for all of our kids, within our town and throughout the province. They have missed out on many experiences that come with high school.” And with pride, “However, in speaking to them, they really just want to jump into the next year of their lives, whether still in high school or into their post-secondary pathway of college, university, gainful employment, or an apprenticeship, and to enjoy every experience that comes with the future.”
Rising Above, Coming Together
The pandemic really brought our school and community even closer together than ever before. I found that students and staff have always been compassionate towards each other and of what is going on in their lives, but this common plight has been something that affected everyone, and as such, our students really helped each other out.”
So, how did our graduating Class of 2021 get through this year? With style, strength, tenacity, and grace. They rose above and spread the love. But most of all, they got through it — together.
Congratulations Class of 2021. You did it!