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Blog: Sunday, September 8th, 2019

What I Wish I Knew Then...

By Linda Pollastretti

I Wish in High School I’d….

As the students of Rick Hansen head back into the classroom, I’m thinking of what it was like for myself as I entered high school for the first time (many years ago)  or my grade 10, 11 or 12 year.  There are so many lessons I wish I could say to my younger self or to the students walking the hallways of RHSS.  

Here are my Top 10 Lessons (or what I wish I knew then …)

10.   Don’t be afraid to fail.  No, I don’t mean a class but rather I mean taking risks and trying new things.  My biggest regret was that I let my friends hold me back from trying so many new experiences.  I wish I had tried out for drama, or more sports teams, or stepped outside my friend circle and made more/ new friends, or tried a “hard” class that my friends’ didn’t want to take. 

9.   Ask A Lot of Questions.  Yes, chances are if you are sitting in class and don’t understand that many of your peers also don’t “get it” so ask the question (your peers will be silently cheering).  Question your friends and their decisions.  Question where you or they are going, question what’s in the vape juice etc.

8.  Reading and Writing will take you places.  I was not a reader in high school nor did I like to write so it was a bit of surprise when I discovered historical non-fiction and things clicked.  Try books on like clothes (pick them up read some pages and see if its a fit).  Don’t be afraid to try different genres and styles.  Express yourself in writing, but double-check for spelling mistakes etc (that’s my weaknesses).  

7.  Be Kind.  Actually,, my saying is you can never go wrong by being kind. The world is mean enough with its messages of the right size, the right clothes, the right house, the right look.  Everyone has their “thing” sometimes is clearly visible and sometimes it's buried deep.  Just remember we are all going through something so be kind to each other. 

6. Learn about Money.  Yup, learn to financially independent.  Money can’t buy you happiness but everyone should learn how to make money work for them.  For me, financial independence began with my first job at 13 and my parents taking 20% in taxes (which was really a savings account).  It was a good lesson in paying myself first, in the value of a dollar and just how hard I had to work for new Nike shoes!

5.  Your teachers are people too.  I wondered at some point if my teachers were robots who didn’t have any feelings because sometimes they didn’t understand the struggle for good marks was real.  Teachers have private lives and children too.  They want to get to know you and you should get to know them.  Mr Kennedy will always be a special part of me as he hooked me into the teaching profession.

4.      Adults can help with Big Problems.  Sometimes our instinct to keep it to ourselves or solve it ourselves or not tell can work against us. It was somewhat of a surprise when I discovered that adults could help solve some pretty big problems.  I thought I knew it all but turns out they had some experiences and knowledge I didn’t.  A shout out to Mr Snow who helped me with a late university application based on an athletic endeavour!  

3.    Know yourself.  At some point during your high school experience, there will come a time, or an activity, or a party, or an event, or a day/night, when you will have to make a tough choice. Know yourself.  Do what is best for you not for your peers, your friends, your parents, or community.  Your gut will help you and remember number 4!.

2.    Trust.  Trust your instincts. Your teachers trust you to look after their classroom when they are out the door.  They trust you to walk around the school, go to the washroom, locker and more as long as they know where you are.  They used their instinct to trust you.  Do the same for your family, your friends, etc.  My parents used to say trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. I think they were pretty accurate and I have to say I was burned more than once but I learned that actions speak louder than words.  Words can lie but actions show the true person.  

1.      Believe in Yourself.  Yup, I think sometimes we don’t believe in ourselves.  We don’t think we are good enough, fast enough, smart enough but you know what - we are we just have to believe it.  You matter, you are important and you are worthy.  I wish I heard this more during my teen years.  So hear me loud and clear - you are AMAZING and everyone has their thing!

A final word,  there are many things I wish I knew when I was in high school.  High school is tough as you navigate a new school, new classes, new friends, new experiences and more.  So remember to take risks, ask questions, be kind, earn a little money, teachers and adults are here to help, discover a love of reading/ writing and most importantly,  know, trust and believe in yourself. 


You Rock 

Mrs Linda Pollastretti

Principal, Rick Hansen Secondary