Reflections: SJK Lifers from the Class of 2020

Carey Gallagher
A ‘lifer’ is the term given to a student who has been at SJK from Kindergarten to Grade 12. At graduation, lifers don the title with a certain sense of pride and accomplishment, and are honoured for their commitment and contributions to the school. 
Those who have taught lifers look on with nostalgia, having been part of their educational journey from beginning to end. 
This is one of the greatest joys of teaching in a school that spans all grades.

This year, SJK celebrates the graduation of three lifers: Abby D., Michael M. and Hannah R.  

Taking the opportunity to reflect on what being a lifer means beyond the defined criteria, all three of this year’s lifers conveyed that SJK was like a home with its familiar faces and safe spaces. “I can’t remember a time before SJK,” Hannah muses as she contemplates what it will be like to walk out the gates. Taking time to further develop her field hockey skills while weighing options for a competitive Varsity athletic career, Hannah says, “I am not nervous because I know no matter where life takes me, SJK has set me up for success no matter what path I take.”

Abby does acknowledge that she will miss the tight-knit community of SJK. “It’s the best of both worlds. You always have support, but you are encouraged to reach your goals on your own and push your limits.” Abby, who will be completing the combined Bachelor of Arts from Laurier and Bachelor of Laws from Sussex program majoring in Political Science, has a lot to say about the influence that her teachers and their guidance have had in shaping who she has become and the path she is taking beyond SJK, with many personal and heartfelt anecdotes of her interactions with faculty and staff over the years.

A globally-minded crew with an affinity for world issues, history, and culture, this year’s group of graduates are in the unique position of having to take that next step in their lives without some of the usual SJK send-off traditions. While Grade 12 Commencement has been postponed until it is safe to gather again, the School has been working on some creative real-time options to ensure that the DP2s know they are loved. In the meantime, true to form, the wisdom and understanding of the greater good this particular class is known for shines through. “Although not graduating in June is disappointing, everyone's health is more important,” observes Mike, who will be a University of Waterloo Warrior and accounting student next year. “If anything, the pandemic will bring this year’s graduating class closer together, as this will be something we all remember for years to come.”

Abby echoed Mike’s thoughts and went on to say, “This pandemic really brings light to the little things in life and once you realize the simplicity of life when slowed down, you can begin to see how the pandemic, while difficult, has brought important lessons to everyone. My ability to weather this unprecedented situation has shown me just how resilient and strong I am. I thank SJK for that!”

Best wishes to this year’s lifers, Abby, Mike, and Hannah, and the entire Class of 2020! The contributions you have made to SJK and the legacy you have left will last a lifetime and beyond.

St. John's Kilmarnock School

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