A Trip Back to High School

Graduate Student Holding Diploma While Standing With Friends At

In last week’s column the focus was fundraising for charity and how this can present learning opportunities for students.  To continue on this theme of philanthropy I will share my journey back to high school.  And not undercover like in the classic Drew Barrymore film Never Been Kissed.

Last Friday I was invited to present The Corsage Project Community Award at the Harbord Collegiate Institute 121st annual commencement.  It was quite special to present one week after participating in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, as financial scholarships are one of the main allocations of the funds we raise.   Our committee presented awards this same day at other TDSB high school convocations including Jarvis CI and West Humber CI to students engaged in improving their communities.

Sitting on the stage watching the students receive their awards and diplomas I was hit by a wave of nostalgia.  Although a graduate of YRDSB, I could not help but reflect back to my own commencement.  I was even tapping my foot along with the band as they played “Skyfall”.   I thank Mrs. Harvey for that, my former music teacher.

I often like to write about teachable moments for students.  However, last Friday I experienced a teachable moment.  It was incredible to see the philanthropy centered on high school commencements.  In addition to many non-profit awards from organizations like The Corsage Project, I was amazed to see the number of alumni scholarships, many in memory of family members who had once attended the school.  In this instance, Harbord is a school rich in history with a very active graduate network.  Through the Harbord Club, alumni donate funds towards student scholarships where winners are chosen by the teachers.

“Our grads remember where they were made who they are today; and they give back to the school that made them great,” explained Murray Rubin, alumni, speaking with Principal Meade before commencement.

joanneellencole(left) Joanne Sallay, The Corsage Project (right) Ellen Cole – Harbord Club Albert “Tubby” Cole Award

To highlight one of many unique stories, Ellen Cole, a proud Harbord alumna, was in attendance.  She was there to present the Albert “Tubby” Cole Award in honour of her late husband, a graduate from the class of 1945.  When I asked Ellen her motivation, she answered that this is something he would have liked.  It was all too appropriate as Albert was a star athlete, and his scholarship is annually awarded to a male student for athletic excellence.   The perfect tribute to ensure his legacy lives on.

Donating funds for educational scholarships is an important way to give back to the local community, and to help our students build their futures at the same time.   According to Principal Meade, “In a world where many teens have so much adversity to overcome, graduation is a special time when the community comes together to celebrate the successes of the teens and the community that supported them.”

To end on a school cheer, “Onward Harbord, Onward Harbord, On to victory!”

Joanne - Professional Pic

Joanne Sallay

Joanne Sallay is a Director at Teachers on Call – a personalized home tutoring service with more than 25 years of experience.  Teachers on Call’s Ontario Certified Teachers specialize in providing one-on-one instruction in all subjects and grades including French Immersion tutoring.

For further information about Teachers on Call, please visit: www.teachersoncall.ca
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