High School

High school is possibly the five longest years of your life.

You spend the first year coming to grips with the fact that everyone has to shower after gym class, then you spend the next four years waiting for the experience to be over.

The low point comes at the end of Grade 10 when you realize there are still two years to go. Unlike hump day, there’s no wing night at the end of Grade 11, and no casual Friday.

Many years have passed since I was in high school, but I remember it as a long walk to freedom.

Given the wisdom that comes with age and time, and in preparation for an upcoming reunion, I consulted some of my cohorts on their advice for students in their final few years of high school.

The universal advice seems to be, don’t worry too much.

Ingrid van de Leest, parent of four, says, “Try to enjoy it to its fullest. It goes by fast and is over before you know it. Do fun stuff. Join activities. Stop worrying what people think.”

Cassandra Redding, parent of a recent university graduate, agrees: “Make relationships. Volunteer. See the world. Travel.”

That’s good advice for a solid student who’s going to make it one way or another, but there are plenty of middling students who don’t enjoy school and are fighting their way to graduation.

Don’t worry, you say? Well, I’ll just have a sleep-in while I think about how much I’m not going to worry.

Katie Pope, 23, graduated five years ago and says if academics aren’t your thing, just enjoy high school for all the other things it has to offer; it’s those same activities that will help keep you in school and keep you sane.

“You really need something that will keep you focused. A lot of the kids who didn’t have a sport or art or band, they fell off the track.”

Moreover, she says those interests will help you find your way later on.

“You kind of have to find your passion when you’re in high school so that when you leave, you’ll know what to do.”

So how can parents help their kids get through those last years? Planning without pressure seems to be the key.

Van de Leest says there are enough expectations placed on kids already.

“My daughter had a tough time with everyone always asking ‘What are you going to do next/with your life?’ As a parent I tried to remind her she has a lot of years ahead for things to fall into place.”

Redding says you can give them confidence rather than anxiety.

“Encourage them to dream big. Even if their dream sounds ridiculous to you; they’ll find out life is hard soon enough.”

Elizabeth Baerg, a high school teacher, agrees that having a plan is important, but she says to make it flexible. Parents can help plan in some key ways. Paperwork is a good start.

Leeann Froese, parent of two, points out, “You want to be independent by the time you’re 17-years-old, and the last thing you want is your parents meddling.”

However, helping your kids form a plan and prepare post secondary applications can take away some anxiety, and let them focus on current tasks in the classroom.

So to those students making the final push to the summit, remember that there are more hills ahead, so enjoy the one you’re walking now.

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