Welcome Grads of 2017!  You are in for an incredible ride here at Riverside.   Four years until graduation may seem like a long time, but I can assure you that this time will pass quickly.  Before you know it, you’ll be making plans for life beyond high school.  Those future plans may feel exciting, confusing, and uplifting.  Regardless of what your future plans may be, we are here to support you in achieving your goals and helping you realize dreams that may be beyond what you have ever imagined.

I can recall my first few days at high school many years ago…1986 to be exact.  At that time, I walked into a school that was about 4 times the size of the one I left.  The friends I thought I’d see in my classes were generally with other teachers and most of the time, I only got to see them before school, at lunch, or after school.  I felt like I needed to start over again in getting to know my teachers and in having them get to know me.  I didn’t know what my new friendships would look like or even if I’d make new friends.  I wasn’t sure how to sign up for teams or clubs and was even unsure about where to find the washrooms.  I didn’t know what a Career Facilitator was, nor did I realize how much I’d need my counsellor to help me get through high school and plan my future. The truth is, regardless of how concerned I was about my move to high school, I couldn’t plan for every situation that would arise.  I realized soon enough that my success rested on my ability to adjust to situations, laugh off the things that used to bother me, and get good at managing my time, staying organized, and staying on top of my studies.  After about 5 months of being in high school, I felt settled - adjusted to my new home.

Most students I speak to about their transition from middle school to high school tell me that it is mixed with more ups than downs.  So, let me start with what you have to look forward to…new friends, more course and program options, a lot of technology to support your learning, staff who care about their students, both academically and personally, over 60 different clubs and athletic teams, plenty of opportunities to develop leadership and community mindedness, a great support team in the way of counsellors, administrators, youth worker, student services team, library staff, career facilitator (she’ll help you find jobs, apply to colleges and universities, and even find scholarships!),  and a friendly office staff.  There should be something for every one of you at Riverside.  Whether you like computers, art, sports, trades, history, geography, science, literature, poetry, writing, mathematics, music, theatre, cooking, sewing, business, journalism, or digital media, there are so many areas to pursue your passions and interests.  Oh, and if we don’t have it, come and see me or one of your counsellors.  We’ll work together to find a way for you to pursue your areas of interest!

Let me now share with you some words of wisdom from other students who have just finished grade 9.  Firstly, classes at high school are more demanding.  You’ll get more homework and your teachers will expect a lot from you.  It isn’t that the work is a lot harder than middle school.  It’s just that your classes move faster and you get more work to do.  So, stay on top of it.  If you start to get behind, you’ll feel overwhelmed and you’ll have difficulty getting back into a good routine.  Do your homework as soon as you get home from school.  That way, if you get stuck, you can phone a friend to get help or email your teacher.  Whatever you do, get to every class.  If you skip class, you’ll definitely fall behind.  You’ll also lose trust with your teachers and parents.  At Riverside, the teachers get an attendance report each day for grade nine students.  This allows them to see who attended all classes and who didn’t.  Teachers, counsellors, and administrators can then follow up with students and parents about your attendance.  Remember, you get out of life what you put into it.  Try hard in class and you’ll see your teachers try hard for you.  They’ll always reach out to help, but if you never accept their help, you’ll never realize how well you could have done.  You’re here to learn, so don’t be shy about what you don’t know or that you don’t understand.

I’ll leave you with one challenge….when you sit in each of your classes during that first week of school, look around at your classmates and realize that these are the people you will spend the next four years of your life with.  Reach out to each other, help one another, and work collectively to ensure that everyone succeeds.  Welcome to Riverside Secondary School…the home of the RAPIDS!


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