My name is Erika Rath and I am the Director of Student Services at the Sacred Heart School of Montreal. 

How to Say Goodbye

Here we are, at the end of another school year! It’s hard to believe that another year has ended and another group of students is graduating.

With graduation fast approaching, we often focus on how our grade 11 students are feeling, but we often do not recognize how the faculty feel. Faculty are inundated with many emotions including bittersweet nostalgia and pride. Our students are also feeling those same emotions and are also anticipating what the future will look like. They are ready to leave, but not completely ready to close the door on this part of their lives.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but this year was especially hard because the group of students graduating are exceptional. Of course, they’ll come back and visit, but it won’t be the same. The halls will feel different and their exuberance, energy, and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.

Given the pandemic and the situation we found ourselves in with proper social distancing and other health measures, it was impossible to hold a live in-person convocation. We needed to find a way to honour each graduate, her family, and the experiences they’ve had at Sacred Heart.

We are fortunate to have a small graduating class, but 40 students who live across the island and some even off-island posed a bit of a challenge. Luckily, Ms. Littman and Ms. Newton graciously helped me and together we visited every graduate and delivered grad goodie bags that I put together. Each bag contained student diplomas, awards, pins, a cap and gown, and gifts from the school. Each family was encouraged to decorate their homes with balloons, banners, etc… Appointments with each family were made and we showed up ready to take pictures of the graduates and their families in their caps and gowns and convocation wear.

The initiative really took off and I couldn’t be happier with the results! Our families really embraced this project and the photos and memories are incredible.

We wanted to ensure that a proper farewell was given and that each graduate was honoured in a special way. As I learned, there is no activity or gesture too small when it comes to saying goodbye to graduating students.

Graduation is a rite of passage and as an educator I’ve learned how to say goodbye. It isn’t always easy, but I know that our students are ready and prepared to take on the world and I’m so proud that we were able to play a role in their formative years.

Congratulations to all graduating students! You made it!

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Erika Rath, Director of Student Services