It's June, kid, and you can hardly wait. The days are getting longer while your time with us in school is getting shorter. You are so ready. So done. Can you even believe that the moment has nearly arrived?
You will, in a few short weeks, pack all you own, load your car and head out into the big, wide world. Your journey might take you on the road to college or university. Or perhaps it will lead you toward adventure and travel. There might be a job already waiting with your name on it.
Whatever the path on which you decide to embark, life is certain to surprise and astonish you. And that is a guarantee.
I may have never taught you, but I want you to hear this: I feel I know you. I taught you, kid. Or versions of you. Taught you in kindergarten, in Grade 3, again in Grade 5 and in Grade 7. You moved quickly through the years. And now you are finally here, at the pinnacle of your secondary schooling career.
You've reached the top, kid. This is it.
You amaze me! That these years have slipped away so fast leaves me almost breathless.
But there was a time when you were a younger version of who you are today. And those youthful versions of you, from days already gone by, those versions of who you are today: I am sure I glimpsed a few of them, even this morning, as I walked classrooms and hallways in school corridors just like the one you will leave for the very last time, at the end of June.
Even this morning, I watched a version of your former self read to me a piece he'd written. He was eager to share his writing craft -- there was such a sense of pride as he handed me over his words. Words he'd chosen and thought about and stitched together to form a beautiful whole. As I took that precious writing into my own hands, I realized what a privilege it was to be the one selected to glimpse inside a child's mind.
Again today, I watched a version of your former self chat with me about snap shots, slap shots and wrist shots. I told him I wasn't sure how to do one- would he explain how. And he set out to do just that. Writing the words painstakingly on lined paper. I saw the earnestness in his expression. He was intent on getting it just right. I'm sure he will. He's a writer, that's why!
Yes, today I watched a version of your former self hand me a story she had just written. It was three pages long, and she beamed with pride as her hands reached toward mine. I touched the papers reverently and told her they were my utmost priority. And as I did read carefully through three, single-spaced, lined pages, I remembered that not so many days ago, this very child had told me: I hate writing. Her face punctuating her words delivered with a force and emphasis that had now all but disappeared. For here she was standing before me -- offering me stories composed with hints of mystery and intrigue. And she was LOVING that she could do this. That she could write it all down.
And so, today I watched a version of your former self reading. She was so intent on remembering exactly the information she had been given to read -- this, so that she could speak to the answers with clarity and precision. Her face, serious and void of expression. Wanting to get the words just right, get the answers right, the prompts leading her where she needed to go. And she did what she set out to do. I am still trying to find the "just right" reading material for her, so adept is she at her task of synthesizing the gist of the articles.
Today I watched a version of your former self, kid.
Sometimes you were sad. Sometimes you were happy. Sometimes my heart broke just wondering where your own dear heart would be in a few short years. Childhood is such a tender time.
And now, here you are: graduating. The growing years are over.
Dear graduate, you are finally here. But in your face, I see glimpses of your five-year-old face, your seven-year-old face, your 10-year old-face and your 15-year-old face. Many versions of you that have blended and fused together to make you who you are today. All part and parcel of who you are becoming.
As a version of your former teacher, I salute you and tip my hat in your direction. You amaze me! That these years have slipped away so fast leaves me almost breathless.
May you never forget who you were, nor lose sight of who you are as you travel the road toward who you are becoming -- as you move in directions that will allow you to discover who you are truly meant to be.
All my best, kid.
A Version of Your Former Teacher
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST:
Truly one of the best cities in the UK. Edinburgh is a city that is very easy to get around and has some of the best scenery in the country. It has an historic castle casting it's shadow over the city centre, and an extinct volcano from which you can get a gorgeous panorama over the sprawling city. It has some of the nicest architecture around, is one of the least polluted of all UK cities, and has a buzzing nightlife. On top of all that 50% of the population of Edinburgh are under 35 so you'll fit right in! Live in the Scottish capital and you're onto a winner. The only downside? It can get pretty chilly!
Bright lights, bigger city. There's a reason why so many people move to the capital in their first year after university. Yes, it's expensive. But there's so much going on in London that you'll struggle to not enjoy it. Whether you're starting a grad scheme with one of the world's biggest companies, working in a bar or a restaurant, or doing a masters, London definitely has something for everyone.
One of the closest rivals to London in terms of business and entertainment possibilities. Rent is affordable if you are looking for somewhere slightly cheaper than elsewhere, though there are plenty of fancy apartments if you want somewhere a bit more upmarket. With some of the best nightlife in the UK and a great mix of the young and the old, Manchester is certainly a vibrant city that deserves consideration.
If you are looking for somewhere slightly eccentric then Brighton is the place for you. A lively, friendly city, Brighton is perfect for those wanting to break into the creative arts and other similar careers. The social life here is extremely varied, with cheap nights out, exhibitions and shopping galore. Though it may not have the economy of bigger cities like London and Manchester, it is still competing with up and coming businesses often locating here.
With the rolling hills and valleys of Wales on your doorstop Cardiff has breathtaking scenery nearby. With the most green space per person in the UK, Cardiff also has a very strong sporting culture with the Millennium Stadium in the city centre. Also with an efficient transport network for both inner and inter-city travel, Cardiff offers something slightly different without needing a complete lifestyle change.
Bristol is the perfect place for all types of graduates thanks to its extremely diverse economy. With high quality nightlife, cheap restaurants aplenty, and more graduate positions advertised than the majority of other UK cities, Bristol could be your perfect city. However, rent can be fairly expensive, and with some of the best shopping in the country your paychecks could disappear rather quickly.
Another massive student city that often appeals to graduates as well. London is just a few hours away and a decent international airport is very close. Buses allow cheap travel around the city and rent is also relatively affordable making Leeds a very practical option.
Join the Geordies up in the North East. Well known for being one of the friendliest cities in the country, Newcastle also boasts impressive nightlife and entertainment. A surprisingly small city that you'll know your way around in a few days Newcastle deserves its place on the list.
It's only a hop, skip and a jump over to Northern Ireland and the fair city of Belfast. A much safer city than many people think, just don't wear the wrong football shirt in the wrong place! Belfast hosts an annual arts festival and is one of the most active cities in the UK with six out of ten adults regularly competing in one or more sports. With good bars and restaurants along the Golden Mile the nightlife is nothing to laugh about making Belfast a worthy competitor.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, 'The City of Dreams' is a great option. It has everything young people look for in a city with it's history, culture and thriving economy. The world's most livable city for five years in a row, Vienna certainly competes with all of the options in the UK.
Follow Lori Gard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lori_gard