Hello, I am Sandy Lethbridge, school trustee in St James-Assiniboia School Division (SJASD), representing the Kirkfield-St Charles Ward.
June is here already, and another school year is coming to an end. Certainly, not the way we envisioned it, that is for sure.
June is also Pride Month! Since I was elected in 2010, I have organized our high schools to walk as a division in the PRIDE parade. It is a very emotional day for all who walk proudly for SJASD. We have students, parents, teachers, school administration and division administration walk to support our LGBTQ2 students. To walk in this parade and see spectators' excitement when they see their school banner and hoot and holler! While there has been no festival for two years, we are hoping for the festival and parade will be able to go forward in 2022, and SJASD will walk loud and proud!
I have nothing but respect for our parents, who took on the challenging job of having to teach/help their children through the most challenging time of their lives. While at the same time working from home on their own job or having to go to work as a health care professional during a pandemic, no one thought was going to happen in their lifetime.
The elementary children are asking why everyone is wearing a mask and why they cannot either go to school or play with their friends in their backyard or a schoolyard playground.
Middle school and high school students are wondering why they cannot get together with friends, with many dealing with mental health issues brought on by this pandemic. I hope they have been able to reach out to their current or past teachers/guidance/resource with whom they have made connections to offer some guidance.
As trustees, June, behind December, is our favourite time of year. Attending all the end-of-year school choir and band concerts and, of course, the graduation ceremonies!
We must give congratulations to the students that are moving from elementary to middle school and the students in middle school moving on to high school! These are the biggest steps they will take in their lives, apart from going to university or getting married!
But who I feel the most hurt for is our grade 12 students who have been looking forward to their high school graduation, safe grad, and grad parties for probably most of their school lives.
I love participating in our middle school awards ceremony when the opportunity arises, and in my speech to the grade eights heading off to high school, is they are in the final years of their schooling. A place where they have made lifelong friendships, made connections with their amazing teachers we have in our division, and a decision to make on what they want to be when they "grow up"! I tell them they are in the home stretch with having spares available, and the outside world is their oyster.
Congratulations go out to our graduating grade 12 students! Our teachers at all the high schools personally delivered a graduate sign to each student, who proudly placed it on their front lawns for the residents of St James Assiniboia to see! These signs give me a warm feeling and a smile when I drive down the streets and see them. Yet, at the same time, it also gives me a sad heart that these students who are in the Class of 2021 (and last year's Class of 2020) a Piper, a Husky, a Warrior, a Jimmie, or a JAS student! It is at these graduation ceremonies that I have shed a few tears while giving my speech, with a box of tissues on or under the podium for me!
Graduation is the proudest moment for students, parents, grandparents, and relatives when their child walks across the stage as their principal calls their name while their hopes and dreams for their future are read aloud for all to hear, while their fellow students hoot and holler!
I could go on, but I am way beyond my 300 words!
All the best to all the students in St. James-Assiniboia School Division, and may the pandemic shrink so we can all get back to normal! And that we remain as "St. James-Assiniboia School Division."
-Sandy Lethbridge, St. James-Assiniboia School Division Trustee (Kirkfield/St. Charles Ward)