The motto of Seaway District High School is “per ardua ad astra”, through adversity to the stars. This is a particularly fitting motto for the school’s graduating class, and for all students everywhere graduating in 2020. These are students who have had to face some serious challenges on the road to earning a graduation diploma: the path ahead is not going to be an easy one.
Most of the grads of 2020 were born in the year after 9/11. It could be said that our world was forever transformed into one of almost constant upheaval and uncertainty. It was not just changes in the wider world that made life challenging for our grads. Kindergarten saw many affected by school closures as the Upper Canada District School Board put in place it’s Boundary 2020 plan. Dixon’s Corners and Elma Public Schools closed their doors forever. Suddenly children were faced with longer bus rides, unfamiliar new schools, new teachers, new students, and the need to make new friends. Even the curriculum changed for some: many students graduating this year were among the first to pass through the French Immersion program starting at Iroquois Public School and finishing at Seaway.
If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, in 2016, just as these kids entered Grade 9, the UCDSB announced that several schools in the board would close: there was a real possibility that Seaway would close. They may have been kids, but our students protested this closure alongside their parents and teachers, and many members of the community. They rallied, worked, stood fast, and saved their high school.
Then, just as it came time to finally receive their graduation diplomas, to cross the stage at a traditional and important ceremony, the COVID-19 pandemic literally shut down the world. This was adversity of a type that no one could have anticipated.
Students found themselves again in unfamiliar territory, trying to learn online, separated from teachers, classrooms, and classmates. They were forced to give up many of the events that make the final year of high school a precious memory.
Yet our grads have worked hard, and triumphed through it all. The Class of 2020 has earned those precious graduation honours, and earned the respect of their teachers, families, and community.
These young people have already proved they have the potential to become the next “greatest generation.” And, no question, the world needs them. Let us hope they can make this world a brighter, a kinder, and yes, a much, much wiser place for us all. Congratulations to the Class of 2020 from everyone at The Leader.