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In Retrospect

The languid plodding of summer interrupted by school – of which bounds in with typical vigour. Wherever students were, and in whatever manner they spent their breaks, the school year made its entrance with equal vehemence. Labour day festivities fizzled into the sharp routine of school; and the first week back ballooned with newness. New year, new uniforms, new schedules, new policies.

On Wednesday, September 6th, the Morven Campus was once again enlivened by a teeming mass of students. Each came attired in a simplified uniform – stripped of sports gear and hoodies. And so, a little more uniform, and a little colder, students rushed about, fumbling with lockers and adjusting to the contours of school. New faces dotted the crowd- though, this September, all students could attest to a feeling of discombulation. Halloways clogged up as students stopped to check their phones – logging in to the new PCR – the sleek Veracross – to review the new schedule – of which follows a day rotation. Classes are set for an hour and breaks shortened, allowing for the ambiguous x block; a half hour period to study and attend tutorials. Only time will tell if this addition to the schedule proves worthwhile – as of yet, faculty and students alike are still warily unearthing it’s parameters. Wednesdy’s late start proves successful – though lates and uniform infractions abound, judging from the frequent PA announcements dooming students to detention. And indicator, perhaps, of the stricter policies implemented this year – of which have incited mass mumbings amongst students.

Despite this direst, the infamous Collingwood spirit still manages to bleed through. The grumblings are assuaged, in part, by the balm of tradition. For example, the first week back contained the House Olympics, and culminated in the Welcome Back Barbeque on Friday afternoon.

And so September trudged on; yielding the Student Life Fair, Terry Fox Run, and, during a flex period, the first summer book club. A smattering of holidays and events intersperse the monotony of school – some familiar, others still crisp with novelty. Service trips, meet the teacher nights, grade eight explore, university meetings, merging together under the umbrella of Collinwood. Halloween saw the wont haunted house, Remembrance Day progressed with poppies and a familiar assembly program – gaping, however, with the absence of familiar speaker, Rosemary. During this haze of routine, global issues infiltrated the Collingwood bubble, causing reverberations amongst the student body. On September 26th, students bussed en masse down to the Climate Strike, their altruistic fires stroked by the words of Greta Thungberg. October’s earth week similarly reflected this zeal for change.

Later in the term, months of practice and preparation culminated in various performances and exhibitions. The Collingwood’s four strands bulged forth for the school to see and applaud. Volleyball, soccer, and field hockey teams partook in a medley of competitions. The Darlene theatre held first the Fall Band Concert – reviving German compositions – and then the Crucible – a two hour play crammed with intense emotion. Both proclaimed success, as typical. The “grind” continued on; robotic competitions and film festivals flourish, all while tests and final projects march on. Many will be biting their fingernails at the prospect of speeches -and in the art studio, students prepare for the upcoming art show in December

As evident, the school is multifaceted. A constant, churning mass of events, classes, clubs, and personalities. And thus, it is difficult to attribute a single emotion, or even a few, to the first term. Every individual experience is different – and, in typical teenage fashion, each day will yield a slew of feelings . As an outsider – perhaps one of the many prospective families who have toured the school – we can imagine what the school comes across as. A heedy rush of people; darting about hallways to clubs and classes, smiling and nodding as they pass. The cafeteria crammed with laughter. The skywalked hushed, laced with quiet conversation as students study; tables sprawled with textbooks, computers, and snacks. We call ourselves a four stranded school – and endeavor to breed Polymaths. Students are encouraged to accelerate their studies,put their all into a sport or two, volunteer every weekend, audition for the play, join the debate club – and altogether cram their days with Collingwoodness. And, although students thrive off this bustle, high school is also a breeding ground for anxiety. On some days, bags hang, heavy, beneath vacant eyes – and a few move with with less speed and verve than usual. But still they persevere. To an outsider,students are motivated, full of youth and energy. Loyal to their quirks and passions – but willing to embrace change. Whatever pursuit they engage in, they express themselves with an eloquence cultivated since childhood. Even when exhausted, students can proclaim their tiredness with vehemence. The school, unequivocally, has personality.

From an insider’s perspective – the term “okay” can be applied . When asked how the first term progresses, most students will toss out the hasty answer of “just fine.” As students, we are focused; our actions founded upon the idea that they mold and prepare us for the gleaming future Collingwood, as “university prep school,” places, tantalizingly, in our line of sight. As part of ministry regulations, we are hailed by reflections – the dreaded paragraphs delineating what we’ve done and how we feel about this. An activity we disparage as intangible; something that we cannot put on our university application. A menial task. Yet it would do well to remember reflection is the herald of change. When undertaken properly , the endeavor will clarify complaints and successes, precipitating a better future. For example, the new changes that confronted us this September were made as a result of reflection. Thus, as we count down the weeks to Christmas with expectancy, remember to remember. As students, we are unmolded. Laden with little baggage – and eager to collect experiences and skills. We are set upon the future – of which manifests itself as a dream, replete with possibly. Most of us eagerly bound towards this prospect, refusing to dwell in memory, but eager to forge them – at some later date. High school is a transition; a place we will experiment, and prepare under the cover of youth. Awaiting the point in which our life – that of occupations, travel, and family – starts.

I would bid you all, however, to remember this quote by Virginia Woolf:

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”

No matter how old one is, the past has weight. It is a burden we cannot ignore, but should strive to reexamine and reposition as so we carry it not a bagage, but as a tool.

By Clara Chalmers

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