Grit is having the courage to push through, no matter what the obstacles, because it's worth it.
It is a year that has been defined by COVID-19; a tenacious disease that has influenced our way of life on this planet over the past 15 months. Everyone has been affected and everyone has a story on how this disease has impacted their life. In terms of our Peter Lougheed Story, we have seen almost 1/3 of our student population learning remotely, or online, in something called HUB. The majority of our students have been coming to school to learn 'in-person' with masks, following a long list of COVID safety measures with their classmates and teachers. Every part of how students and teachers experience our school and learning this year has been impacted, whether you have been at-home learning through HUB, or in-person, learning here at the school.
Reflecting on this school year I have been thinking, “What has COVID-19 taught us?"
There are many important lessons we have learned through this experience. The quote above, by Chris Morris, describes something called 'Grit'. Grit is that inner voice that tells you to not give up or quit whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down. It's more than just the 'voice'; it's the action of getting up, facing your mistakes or challenges, and moving forward. Peter Lougheed staff and students showed enormous grit in responding to all the challenges and twists that came our way this year. This is an important life lesson. Whenever I see a student give-up or quit because something is not easy, my heart saddens with the lost opportunity for growth and learning. Life is meant to be challenging. Learning involves getting stuck, feeling momentarily overwhelmed, and feeling unsuccessful. With effort and grit, people do overcome and learn. What's more amazing than just the new skills and knowledge is how a person's confidence and inner spirit develops with pride, strength, and self-discipline as they move forward. Think if all babies quit after the first time they tried to walk?? Sounds funny when you say it, but truthfully – babies have amazing 'Grit'!! The secret here is that grit is part of all of us as humans. We all have it; we just need to give ourselves permission to use it - always!
Another important lesson we have all learned this year at Peter Lougheed is the power of togetherness. We have been reminded over and over that: 'we are all in this together', or 'together, we can get through this'! Knowing that we are not alone in this pandemic has helped us to find comfort and perspective. There is power in togetherness whether we are dealing with change, hardships, obstacles, and/or sadly - the loss of someone important to us. Togetherness also helps us celebrate and rejoice our successes and milestones. It helps us create meaning. At Peter Lougheed, we have experienced togetherness as a school community as we have traversed all the changes and adjustments that we faced with his Covid journey. We have also learned the importance of a strong medical system. I do hope we appreciate the collective effort of our medical professionals and continue to remind our government that, as a society, we need a robust and comprehensive medical system to keep our families safe and healthy. I would be remiss if I also didn't mention that a foundational part of a robust medical system is a strong public education system that shapes our students to be curious, be knowledge seekers, and be rigorous with their studies so that they see themselves in the dedicated work of respiratory technicians, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals who work tirelessly to help us when we are in need.
As I write this Principal's Message, there is talk that the Covid restrictions will come to an end at the beginning of our summer. This will mean that we should return to a world that is more familiar to us when school's re-open next fall. My hope is that we remember the importance of grit as we return to school next year. This year has been a year of limited opportunities for students. There will be anxious feelings as we re-connect with a world that is more open and invites us to participate in experiences that will seem hard and may trigger feelings of uncertainty and discomfort. Everyone has spent too much time in-front of computer screens this past year - whether it be online learning, playing video games, or navigating the addictive world of social media. As we enter school next year, I challenge you to find new opportunities that take you away from 'screen time' and invite you to challenge yourself to have experiences that require face to face interaction - whether it be in a school-based club, sports team, leadership, or some youth organization in your community. Grit and togetherness are not found in online video games or social media. Success and growth for all of us will be found in places that bring us together in real ways.
Mr. G. Choate