Each day of 2020 seems to have brought with it new challenges, hurdles and mind-bending realities. Every student and staff member and their families are experiencing this year of challenges in their own way, but not necessarily on their own terms. I feel your frustration with cohorting and recognize that being online isn’t the same as in-person learning, but it is what is required right now to keep our community healthy. We are doing our best to keep each other safe, follow the guidelines and carry on educating and supporting Greenwood students during these difficult times.
As you may know, I spent many years as a competitive swimmer (my first Olympic Trials were in 1988 and my last were in 2004 -- can’t say I didn’t try!). Lately, I have been comparing where we are in our COVID-19 journey to where I would be in what is, in my opinion, the most challenging race in swimming: 200 metres. The race takes about two minutes but is essentially a sprint. In my mind, we are making the turn at the 100m mark and entering the hardest quarter of the race. At this point, you’re already exhausted and you’re wondering if you can even finish. However, you know that the third 50m is where you win. You need to dig deep.
Accepting discomfort -- no, pain -- is key in maintaining your pace in the third 50m of a 200m race. Pulling water to maximise propulsion (like you’ve practised for years), controlling your breathing and blocking the negative thoughts creeping into your head are essential. Equally important is reminding yourself that once you get through this gruelling 50m, the finish will be in sight.
We are at a dig deep moment in the pandemic. The next couple of months have the potential to be very difficult (the dark months of Canadian winter are challenging enough in a good year). Digging deep has taken on new meaning for me, as has the term grit. It will take courage, resolve and strength of character to keep going on dark days.
Our Grade 9 students had the chance to meet with Mr. Latimer (AKA Lub) earlier this year to talk about the challenges they were facing and I had the chance to drop in on a couple of those meetings. Lub asked what my advice for students was, and I responded with one of my mantras: “Show up!” Showing up can have multiple meanings. It may be literally being there, attending classes either virtually or in person. It can mean being present and ready to engage. It can also represent allyship and being there for someone in need -- showing up when others don’t feel safe and you are in a position to help.
Showing up has been made more challenging by COVID-19. Staff and students continue to do their best and to be present, showing up for each other both online and in person with a willingness to grow and learn. Though these actions can take a mighty effort these days, they are incredibly powerful.