The month of June holds a special place in the hearts of parents, teachers, and students. There is one reason why I gladly call June the month of new beginnings: Graduation.

Our students entered school with a much different world — eating food with friends at the cafeteria, sharing textbooks during class, taking Friday trips to Square One, while Zoom was merely for style. We are now finishing with masks, social distancing, and Zoom as our way of life.

Yet in the midst of these changes, they have stepped up to the plate. They volunteered at food banks, senior’s homes, and with online tutoring. They followed public health measures and helped their grandparents and neighbours get vaccinated. In doing so, they have redefined what “community” is, and what it means to be a good neighbour.

I acknowledge that our graduating students may be anxious about the future, even setting aside COVID-19. Graduation is, and should be, an exciting time for us all. It is a reflection of the past — we thank our teachers for their guidance, and reminisce with our friends of all the great memories from the years prior; I’m sure COVID will never be able to take this away from us.

Graduation is the gateway to the future. The future pharmacists, teachers, lawyers, engineers, and many other trades of our province excitedly move onto the next step of their lives. The future is bright. Given these leaders of today have already faced the mighty mountain of COVID, it is clear there is no obstacle they can’t overcome.

To the Class of 2021, my advice is to never stop being curious, and to think about the legacy you want to leave on your community. The world could use more youth voices at the table. After all, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dream.”

Congratulations once again on your graduation — the world is forever grateful for your service. The future is yours. Let’s aim for a post-COVID history, with plenty of memories and stories to tell the next generation.