It’s going to be memorable

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DEAR STUDENTS,

Welcome back to school. I know this is not the school year you imagined, but I am sure this is going to be the most challenging and most memorable school year of your life. Your learning is in your hands, and you can make this time at home a meaningful learning experience.

Whether you know it or not, facing challenges like the one we are facing right now with covid19 can create memories for you to pass down to your children and grandchildren. Times like this make you realise how powerful and brave you really are in the face of adversity. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel scared, lonely and unhappy sometimes, but you will have the opportunity to understand and deal with those feelings. Just don’t give up the fight.

This is your time to think of yourselves as individuals on a whole new level. Removed from the hustle and bustle of getting to school and losing yourself in all that noise that surrounds you in a school setting, you now have the opportunity to face the quiet, reflective time to get to know yourself, your dreams and aspirations on a whole new level.

Now your job is to figure out how to keep yourself happy, fulfilled and connected to your friends and family in the comfort and safety of your home. When you finally return to school, you can have a list of projects and accomplishments that make you feel good about the time you invested in yourself.

Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Develop a personal reading list: Now is the time to plunge into reading. It will help you to develop the academic skills you need to excel in school and help you to discover more about yourself and the world around. Google Young Adult (YA) reading lists online and see what you find. Search online for information about genres of literature you are interested in: mystery, thrillers, romance, fantasy and see what you find. If you devote half an hour a day to reading, you can read 28 books in a year. Create a list of books you would like to target during this year.

2. Form an online book club with your friends: Meet your friends on Zoom. Brainstorm together about the books you would like to tackle as a book club. Choose a variety of books – fun fiction, best science and history reads. Do your research together to find exciting books. A book club will offer meaningful social interaction and support your academic and personal needs.

3. Keep a journal: Google “journal writing” and find a number of reasons why keeping a journal is important. There are good articles about how to start writing a journal. You might not want to take pen to paper so the good news is there are online formats you can use. Keeping a journal helps you to develop the discipline of writing. Feelings and thoughts will come pouring out like you never imagined. It’s hard to imagine it now, but you will enjoy looking at these journals decades from now. In the future your journals will provide an intimate glimpse into your life and your brave attempts to deal with the difficult times of facing covid19.

4. Discover a new hobby: You have some extra time now that you don’t have to commute to school every day. Use this time to identify a hobby. What are your interests? A Seattle student, Avi Schiffman, designed a web site to track covid19 information around the world in the early stages of the pandemic. Google his name and you can read interesting information about how to pursue your interests and how to use You Tube to help you with technical information you might need for everything from creating a web page to building model airplanes and quilting.

5. Create a Zoom study group: This is a good time to get to know other students in your class who aren’t in your usual social circle. Form a study group with a mixture of students who excel in different subjects so that you can take turns being leaders. Appoint someone to keep the group on track so you don’t stray from your study goals.

The possibilities of making this time at home a happy and successful learning experience are endless. The trick is to stay focused and stay busy. Best of luck to you. I am confident you can meet your challenges with great success.

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"It’s going to be memorable"

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