By Carleigh McInnes
Having the opportunity to win the GDHS Alumni and Friends Scholarship is an honour itself, but actually having it presented to me is like the school giving me a personal thank you for attending GDHS. Many people think that, because we are such a small school, there are only small things to offer. Having experienced many different aspects of GDHS, I can say that they are completely wrong. In my five years at Glencoe District High School I have been able to take part in leadership groups like Students Council, Violence Prevention, Relay for Life, and my personal favourite: GALE FORCE. Each group allowed me to gain skills that I can now take on to use in my post-secondary career as well as everyday life. Each experience had its own way of becoming personal which helped me respect and cherish my time at GDHS even more.
The exemplary experiences at GDHS aren’t contained to leadership groups, but also are included in the sports teams and activities the school offers. The Student Athletic Association (SAA) puts on 3-on-3 tournaments that allow all students from each grade to create teams and participate in diff`erent sports together. Getting the students to participate and compete together allows them to respect different abilities and skill levels. Taking part in sports teams not only helps you stay active throughout high school, but it allows you to make new friends, and improve athleticism and leadership skills.
I would definitely have to say that getting involved at GDHS was one of the most beneficial decisions I have made. If I hadn’t taken advantage of the incredible opportunities I was given throughout my years, I don’t think I would be ready to attend college in the fall. Like so many other senior students, I had a tough time figuring out what exactly I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I always felt pressured to study for a hard, serious career like an x-ray technician or dental hygienist. I soon realized that these careers were definitely not for me, and soon took interest in design. I enjoyed making different things with Photoshop and doing little painting jobs. Once again, I soon realized that this wasn’t for me because I didn’t have the patience or the vast attention to detail required to pursue that as a career.
By this point in my life I was approaching my grade twelve year and having a panic attack because I didn’t know what I wanted to be. This point in time was also when we were starting to gear up to put on the bi-annual GDHS Relay for Life event. Working as the Awareness Committee Chair, I was in charge of promoting the event, cancer facts and myths, and cancer prevention. After a couple of months, it was time for GALE FORCE, our annual leadership camp that gives students the chance for two days of great fun, good food and hardly any sleep. Having attended the camp as a camper and skill builder, I felt it was time to be on the committee. About half way through the planning process, I expressed to my Mom that even though it was a bit stressful, I loved working on all of the committees I’d been working with in the past few months. After telling her this about twenty times, she brought home a college book with the Recreation and Leisure page flagged. She said “Read this. It’s very….you”. A few days past and I finally read about the program. As soon as I read it, I knew that this was what I was going to go to college for.
Once I told my parents that this was what I was meant to go for, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I had finally figured out what I was going to study at college. I can honestly say that Glencoe District High School gave me the avenue that I needed to develop my existing skills and realize what I would pursue as my post-secondary career. I am now applied to Recreation and Leisure services programs at five different colleges in Ontario. I have been told by one of the program co-ordinators that I am “the perfect candidate for this program.” All of the activities, sports, clubs and people at GDHS helped me get to the place I am today and I truly thank everyone involved for helping me get here.
I know that many other people in the community have similar high school stories to mine. It’s hard to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life at sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years of age. There is a lot of pressure facing students of this age, but once they find their strength to figure out their career path, the reward is incredible. If I had to give advice to previous graduates of GDHS, I would tell them to attend the upcoming 60th reunion. Glencoe District High School is where you got your first taste of reality. It may have been a rough time for you, or it may have been the best years of your life. Either way, you had friends and memories at GDHS. We all know that time travel isn’t possible, but for one night you have the opportunity to take a step back and remember your high school days – take advantage of it. If I had to give advice to future students of GDHS, I would tell them to take every opportunity that you can and make the best of it. Whether it is good or bad, you will gain something from the experience that you can take with you to use later in life. High school is the time when you figure out who you are and who you are going to be. Make the best of every situation and there is no doubt that you will be successful.