Every class of students tends to have a personality, but if you take the time to look beyond that you will find as many different personalities as you have students. All just trying to fit in, trying to do their best, trying to find their path.  Some are loud, while others are quiet. Some are free-spirited, some follow the rules.  Some try hard against all odds, some give up too easily.  Some are rude, most are polite and kind.  Some are struggling with real issues, others seem to have everything going for them. Some are cool, some are nerds, some are cool nerds.  None of this is new: you will see this in every group of kids

Diversity Peter Nijenhuis
Diversity by Peter Nijenhuis

Graduating Class of 2016: From Grade 9, when I had the most hard-working, independent, curious group of extended students I have ever taught, to Iceland PDWs, to Grade 11 and 12 when I had one of the funnest, kindest, most inclusive, funniest group of kids I have ever taught, I respect you all. I respect your hard work, your frustrations, your kindness, your struggles, the way you greeted me every day as you walked into class and thanked me as you left, the way you didn’t take life so seriously, the many times you made me laugh, for really wanting to know how my weekend was, our inside jokes, your service to your community and communities beyond, your willingness to try new things, and your ability to forgive.

I don’t like to get up in front of the school, but I should have done so at your leaving assembly.  If I had, here’s what I would have said.

  • Kim and Helen: such a great play.
  • Izzi: I love your creative spirit which shines through your artwork.
  • Pascal: I am blown away by your programming abilities and your sense of humor, too.
  • Romy: nobody does fashion like you.
  • Laurie-Ann: you work so hard and your voice is lovely.
  • Emma: your Grade 9 investigations are still the best I’ve ever seen.
  • Sarah-Jane, Nikki, and Wiona: so fun to have a CrossFit bond with you.
  • Will: you are a gentle giant, so smart–some day you will find the thing that  makes you tick.
  • Olli: I am amazed at how much you poured your heart and soul into the life of our school.
  • Meredith: your tenacity and drive were evident in every ConVar workout.
  • Piers: you are an organizer.
  • Bella: I wish I had gotten to know you better; I wish you the strength to overcome your sadness and pain.
  • James: thank you for your willingness to forgive.
  • Ela: I’m so impressed that you pulled this year off living (mostly) alone.
  • Santi and Tom: I appreciate how much you supported your classmates.
  • Bogdan, Sophia, and Eszter: thanks for always asking for more.
  • Marton: I enjoyed learning about how you built a computer for your personal project.
  •  Ffion: you never once let an absence get the better of your education.
  • Holly: I love your wry smile that says you know it all.
  • Emma and Lisa: I will always picture you carrying heavy buckets in the rain in Iceland with smiles on your faces.
  • Isabelle and Emily: you always worked so well together.
  • Patricia: what drive when you are skiing–you apply that to everything you do.
  •  Charlie: you made sure that Tom felt included for the whole of PDW; also lupine sucks, but it was fun pulling it with you.
  • Florine and Zoe: genius, both of you, and strong, too.
  • Pieter and Quinten: you tried so hard to get me to learn Dutch.
  • Celine: you taught me how to get a fraction on the calculator.
Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset
Sky Full of Stars by Sam Lewis
  • Sam: you captured this beautiful image on my birthday.
  • Liza: nothing stops you.
  • Fabio: you are so polite and kind.
  • Tim: I do wish we could have taken you back to Iceland.
  • Lukas: you learned that you don’t have to be afraid of your teachers.
  • Maarten: thank you for showing me how to use graphic tools.
  • Evelina: I love your impressions–thank you for making me laugh.
  • Mhari, Catherine, Megan, Camille: you were always so focused and independent.
  • Tania: I loved the music you made for your personal project.
  • Yuval: cliffs are dangerous, but I do hope you keep searching for adventures. And that hidden waterfall? Thanks for finding that.
  • Anna: you always gave others a chance to answer before jumping in with the right answer.
  • Manuel: your passion for the environment was evident in that great video you made about PDW.
  • Spike: I always loved hearing your contributions to class–so much knowledge in that head of yours.
  • Callum: such a fierce athlete.
  • Helena: you, too. How did you manage skiing and swimming?
  • Xavier: how cool that you started CrossFit?
  • Philip: your health is the most important thing, you will get caught up.
  • Chris and Alex: I always appreciated your willingness to stay after school and do extra work with me.
  • Chris: I will always picture you floating on top of a stream in Iceland.

At the beginning of Grade 11, one of you left an anonymous note on my desk, reading “Dear Mrs. Koch, You helped make the first week of my IB better by being a really calm and entertaining teacher.  I hope that for the rest of the year you can continue to do so.  Thank you for being awesome.” Just about any of you could say it was from you, and I’d believe you, because I know you go out of your way to show your gratitude.

Thank you for four years of memories.  Thank you for your kindness.  Thank you for working so hard.  Thank you for not working so hard, too.  Thank you for not taking it all too seriously.  You are a sky full of stars. #respect

(I tried to acknowledge every student that I taught or brought to Iceland over the last four years.  If I left someone out, I’d love to fix that mistake. Please let me know.)

Thank you to Flicker and Creative Commons for the flower image.

Thank you to Sam Lewis for the Northern Lights.


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