Making the Most of This Atypical School Year

Amalia Mairet

Student Voices stories are written by SMUS students on topics and issues that are important to them. Grade 12 student Amalia Mairet originally delivered this as a speech during Senior School Chapel.

When Mr. Butterfield asked me to write something to usher in the new school year, I was stumped. He suggested that I base the piece around ideas of, and I quote, “renewal, youthful energy, or a ‘restarting start’” – whatever that means. Basically, write something positive and refreshing in a time where life is sometimes devoid of those things.

Honestly, I didn’t know how. For the first time, I was really not excited to come back to school in the fall. School was this dark cloud of uncertainty on the horizon of what had been a great and pretty normal summer. I didn’t know how to navigate the impending changes in my timetable, school life, and classmates. I didn’t know if I would have the energy for all the conversations, the homework, the stamina for the everyday stress we all endure.

Now, we all know that coming back to school after a long summer is a strange feeling, even in a normal year. Our sleeping schedules turn upside down, and we try to remember where our uniforms are in our closets and how to pack a lunch at seven in the morning.

It is impossible to talk about life right now without talking about change. Things are different than they were the last time we saw each other, and unfortunately, school brings this into startling clarity.

Luckily, things are different for all of us, and we have felt this together, unwilling as we may have been. Part of the heartache of the pandemic has been comprehending that time now seems divided in two: before and after. This time last year, I was getting rightfully kicked off the field hockey team, gearing up for a musical that might have been my last, taking courses that don’t exist for Grade 11s anymore. Life is simply no longer like that.

At the same time, this ache dulls when we realize that we endure these irrevocable changes over and over in our lives, whether we realize it or not. We are constantly facing a “new normal.” COVID-19 or otherwise, we would have graduated, moved out, moved on. There are new relationships and breakups, jobs, drivers licenses, haircuts, a fresh coat of paint on your room. Rather than a stark before and after, this is just one particularly remarkable line in the sand on a long path covered in lines.

Many of us want to make the most of our time in high school before the years are over. For those of you who, like me, stress about grad being the end of a time we will never get back, remember that there’s still a year to go.

Beyond that year, I think that Billy Joel put it best when he asked “when will you realize, Vienna waits for you?” If you’ve never listened to the song I’m referencing, I highly recommend it. Basically, “Vienna” is that future we all look forward to. It is out there. We are all waiting for it on the edge of our seats, and you may not think it, but it is waiting for us too. Things sometimes feel slow and stuck and restless right now, but they won’t be forever. This is not the end all, be all of our education nor our social life. This is a blip. We can make the best of it. Look at the things we love about the school year: our friends, teachers, extracurriculars, the comfort of routine. Life has changed, but these parts haven’t. They still exist. If not here and now, they are waiting.


  1. Amalia, you have a lovely and honest way of expressing your thoughts. It was a pleasure to read this. Vienna is there, never doubt it:) Wishing you and your Grade 12 cohorts a wonderfully different year.


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