The Wisdom of Teens


Welcome to 2018. As a Grade 12 student told me last week, the start of a new year gives us the chance to wander through the hallways of the past one last time, grab anything we need, and then firmly shut the door. January is a time to take stock, to see how far we have come and to think about where we are right now.

“I cannot believe I’m the same person I was a year ago. I’ve changed so much,” this student announced. Her friend began to laugh and nod her head in agreement, “Me too.”¬† I then asked, “Changed in a good way?” and they began to list for me all the ways in which they had changed. They know who they are, they have ideas about what they want to do, they are confident about their choices and they have found like-minded friends who support them.

I decided to do as the students had suggested and wander one last time through the hallways of 2017, a year of tumultuous change in our world.

I began by remembering my seatmate on a flight between Hong Kong and Vancouver last March. Cindy endeared herself to me almost immediately with her multi-coloured hair, her friendly attitude¬† and her offer to put my bags in the overhead bin. Not only was she a student at Simon Fraser University studying communications and chemistry, she had opened her own cosmetics business to fund her university education. Remarkably, she was using her studies to learn how to market her products to men as well as women, and to ensure the product ingredients met her exacting standards to be classified as “organic.” She spent most of the flight working on her website and communicating with her buyers. She was 21 years old.

The next memorable moment came for me after listening to my sons introduce a new Xbox game to a group of male friends. The goal of the game was to survive sniper attacks in an ever shrinking geographical location online with 100 other players. While I opposed the game itself, what I heard was the most collaborative, supportive dialogue among the young men playing that I could ever hope for. It made me wonder who developed this game and whether there are games that a) are not about killing and b) create the same opportunities for collaboration with a sense of urgency. What I discovered was that males dominate the field of gaming development and that concerted efforts are being made to make the gaming industry more accessible to female developers. A future in which games can provide a sense of urgency and have positive outcomes is now conceivable.

The last memorable moment arrived watching my niece, a producer in New York City, plan a team cycling event to raise money for cancer research. The event will take place in New York this February and they expect to raise millions of dollars. Her contribution of time, talent, and passion were evident during every moment of her supposed vacation with us in the Philippines. She video conferenced, designed layouts, and coordinated with people around the world switching effortlessly between languages on her phone…twelve hours a day, certain of her purpose.

So, grabbing what I need from these memories and the wisdom of our Grade 12’s to close the door and go forward into 2018 I am certain of the following: we will continue to expand student opportunities to find relevance in their daily lives at QMS through course options that introduce emerging technologies, through community service work, and through providing time to reflect. Our QMS community will continue to support each student, enjoying each person’s uniqueness. Finally, we will continue to practice our belief that women can and will build a better world.

~ Debbie Cook, Senior School Principal






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