Grade 9 Farewell – A Fantastic Celebration!

This past Friday, May 26th I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak at our Grade 9 Farewell. I, and the staff at Woodhaven Middle School are extremely proud of all of our kids who will be transitioning to high school very soon.

While we can’t possibly know what’s in store for our kids, I am hopeful that they will come back to visit us in the upcoming years to tell us how things are going. I have included the message I shared with them at their Farewell (I am not sure they are words of wisdom:) below for those parents who weren’t able to attend, or those who just want to know a bit more about our awesome group of kids.

Good evening. My name is Mr. Patras and it is my honour to stand up here this evening to speak about this amazing group of students. I would like to welcome all of you, our parents, grandparents, friends, family and community members here to celebrate with us tonight.

This has been a really unique year for the Woodhaven students and staff as we have seen so many new students join our community, and grade 9 is no exception. We have been very fortunate to have had an entire class of grade 9 students in the Maranatha Christian Program join the Wolfpack and contribute so much to an already fantastic group.

Throughout this year, I have had the opportunity to watch so many of these young men and ladies and I have been amazed by the character that they have shown. I can say, without hesitation, that sitting here in front of me is an awesome group of students. Parents, you should be extremely proud of your child here this evening. They would be here without you.

What I am most proud of from this group of kids is their accepting and inclusive attitude.  As I mentioned, we have had an entire class of new students join us this year. While this can prove to bring challenges with it for students, our students have not only managed it, they have embraced it.

As a staff, we talked about how to support all of our students to build a unified culture and to help all of our kids feel welcome and excited to be at Woodhaven. We discussed all of the things we would do and say, how we would help them navigate through problems… With our years of wisdom and experience, we had it all figured out.

What we didn’t figure out was the kids were way ahead of us! These guys didn’t require a whole lot of support. Like middle schoolers often do, they just made it happen.

One of my favourite memories this year is really a simple one. Late in the fall I was walking through the halls during the lunch recess and as I moved through the grade 9 hallway I saw something basic, but great! I saw students in Mr. Dhaliwal’s class that were not only from his homeroom but also from Mr. Schock’s MCP homeroom! Then when I looked in Mr. Schock’s room I saw students from Mr. Dhaliwal’s room. We shouldn’t be surprised that our kids were way ahead of us on adapting to change!

This ability to not only manage change, but to embrace change has been something we have noticed from this group throughout the year.

In this class of 2017 we have amazing athletes, fantastic actors, awesome learners, and most importantly, great people. I have had the opportunity to witness many of these students share their gifts and talents throughout this school year and it has been an absolute privilege. Through everything thing from our Talent Show, Drama Productions, and choir, on to our Sports teams our kids have shown us the many varied talents that they have and it’s been exciting to watch!

We have been able to watch our Drama group bring home several awards from the One Acts Festival. Our Basketball teams competed for banners, just recently our track team won the entire meet! We have many of our grade 9 students serving as mentors in their mentorship option, others coach fall ball and spring league… I could go on and on about their character and leadership.

These kids have been successful because they have the support of so many people… Class of 2017… you wouldn’t be sitting here for your farewell without the support of your parents.. let’s give them a huge round of applause… Not only did your parents help you reach this point, you have a fantastic group of teachers who have helped you through the challenges of middle school … how about a hand for them.

Now most importantly you guys… we have to give credit where it is due. You have not only survived middle school, you have thrived through it! We haven’t had a group like you before, and likely will not have another one again for a really long time!

If I can leave you with one message as you move onto your next adventure in high school, I would tell you to stay honest to who you are… keep accepting others… keep supporting others… don’t feel the need to conform… continue to be exactly who you are… grow, mature and find your own path.

Maya Angelou had the Woodhaven Middle School class of 2017 in mind when she said…

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Congratulations to the class of 2017! You will be missed around here by all of us!

Check out my twitter feed for some pictures of an awesome evening.


About Shaye Patras

I am a husband and father of two fantastic girls. I currently work as the Principal of Ecole Meridian Heights School in Parkland School Division in Alberta, Canada. I am excited to be continuing my administrative career in this learning community!
This entry was posted in Engage our Community, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leading a Learning Community and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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