A photo of Denise Lamarche

As we begin the month of June, we can find around our campuses final demonstrations of learning, presentations, final papers, provincial sports, musical performances and preparations for year-end celebrations. There is an unmistakable sense of excitement, maybe even some nerves, especially for the graduating class of 2023. 

When these students entered high school in 2019, little did they know that their experience would be far from ordinary. In March of 2020, the world closed its doors due to the pandemic, flipping their lives upside down. Remote learning became the new normal for the remainder of that year, and in the years that followed, they faced countless adjustments and unique challenges. Learning in cohorts, social distancing, singing in masks, sanitizing in every class, and altered school events like assemblies.

Despite this current year being a more typical year without pandemic restrictions, one could refer to this particular grade as the ‘Class of Unprecedented Times’ for what they have endured throughout the last four years.

From that initial year of remote learning, our graduates have shown remarkable adaptability. They have managed great achievements in academics, athletics, music, arts and co-curriculars, even when the situation demanded creativity and thinking differently. 

Throughout their high school journey, the students have had to rely on resilience, fortitude, adaptability and problem-solving skills. The students of this graduating class had to keep forging ahead and finding a new way of experiencing their educational journey every year of high school. It hasn’t been easy, that is for certain - right to the final laps. And throughout it all, they have had the unwavering support of our close-knit and resourceful community at SMUS to help them along the way.

In recent years, I have spent time working on and reflecting on the work we are doing with our Portrait of a Graduate, and what it means, particularly during difficult times. This portrait, or description, captures the essence of what we aim to nurture in our students’ experience. We want our graduates to be learners, leaders, innovators, communicators, collaborators, connectors, and contributors. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving these ideals, but we strive to prepare them for life’s unexpected twists and turns. 

Considering what these students have overcome during their high school journey, they are more prepared for what lies ahead. That’s the true essence of our Portrait of a Graduate. If high school serves as a “training ground”, this class has faced and conquered numerous challenges. Our rapidly changing world demands creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, empathy, and resilience. This class has shown, and needed to show, all of these skills along the way. 

I look forward to sharing in the upcoming celebrations of this class with our community, not only in my role as Director of Academics but also as a parent to one of our graduates. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the remarkable journey of this graduating class in particular, and look forward to an exciting future.