Rachel B and Michaela V have attended Connect for 6 years. Yesterday evening the two shared a commencement address with their fellow graduating Grade 9s that perfectly captures the essence of what our Connect Charter School is about. Thank you so much to both Rachel and Michaela for allowing us to post their words below!
Hello I’m Michaela and I’m Rachel and we have both been here since grade 4. For those who can’t count that’s 6 years, and to be exact, 60 months, 1825 days, and 2,628,000 minutes that we have spent at this school. Throughout this time we have grown so much as individuals, learners, and as a community. From the moment we walked in as little, nervous grade 4s to mature grown-up grade 9s, well most of us, you know who you are. Here at Connect we have formed friendships that will last for many years. And when I say friendships I mean the ones where we’re always there for one another. Friendships where you don’t have to be anyone but yourself. Although we have our close friend groups, with all of the projects and experiences as a grade, we have gotten to know everybody. We think it’s safe to call everybody our friends.
This school is not like any other school; it’s different. It’s different in a good way, as in we don’t sit at our desks with our noses in textbooks trying to memorize the pages. We don’t just understand the topics, but we inquire deeper into them. You might not be familiar with the word inquire but it’s not just one word that stands for one meaning. It has many different meanings and factors behind it. We inquire by going deeper into our learning and by truly understanding what we’re learning and why. That’s an important part, because anyone can go to school and learn about different topics. We go to school to learn and understand why we are learning that certain topic, and how it will help us in the future. To be honest, a lot of us think that many topics that we learn at school have nothing to do with our future and won’t help us. Well you’re right; not every single thing we learned directly applies to us, but it will help us one way or another. We’ll give you an example of how we inquired. After learning about the political and voting system, we went out to universities with a message to send to the students about voting. We told them about why it’s important to vote, and the different ways that they could. We felt that we had more knowledge than the textbooks could have given us, so we shared our knowledge with others. Within our experience we got to have real-life conversations and interactions. We took the next step with our learning. Hence our motto: “It’s never just an ordinary day.” This means that you’re never going to come to school expecting or knowing what’s going to happen, you will always be surprised.
Inquiry isn’t just the one thing that makes this school different. Our outdoor ed and extra-curricular activities have created so many experiences, leadership opportunities, and memories that none of us will forget. From grade 4, when we went to the Tyrell Museum and slept next to the dinosaurs, to Grade 9 at Bamfield Marine Center where we touched some pretty moist and slimy creatures. You could go ask any other school and they don’t offer their students these experiences and learning opportunities.
Since becoming grade 9s, we have stepped into a leadership role. We have had the opportunity to do peer mentoring and work with younger grades. This is a program where the older kids pair up with a student from the younger grades and we help them with any school work. Or sometimes all they need is someone there for them or someone to look up to.
Family groups is an important part of this school because it forms relationships that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Family groups is a full period of 40 minutes where kids in grade 4-9 come together and do activities with one another. This gives older and younger grades opportunities to mix and create these relationships with each other.
This ties into how our school is a bully free zone and how everyone feels welcome to be who they want to be. This is a school where you don’t get judged for every step you take, but you get helped by your peers with every step you take.
We don’t want to drag this on any longer because you’re probably tired, bored, wanting summer break to come, so we’ll wrap it up. All the best to everybody going to high school. Although were breaking off and going our separate ways, we have all created and made each others’ Junior High experiences great!