I would like to begin by thanking my family who helped me through my time at IPS. My mom always believed in me, and encouraged me to try my hardest. My dad consistently pushed me to make good choices. I am grateful that my parents were forgiving when I did make mistakes, and that they helped me to learn from them. My friends have also been a constant support and I am thankful for their friendship, belief in me, and everything I have learned from them.
All of the teachers at IPS have always been there for me in different ways. The IPS values of Wisdom, Courage, and Integrity were initiated by Dr. Ted Spear, and because of his belief in them, he taught me and everyone else at IPS to truly understand what they really mean. By teaching me to argue using logic and reason, he taught me a skill that I can use for the rest of my life.
Brad has known me since Grade 6 and always challenged and encouraged me to be more confident. Jamie became my tutor in grade 7. Jamie has been more than a tutor to me; she has been an incredible friend. Over cups of tea at her kitchen table we’ve talked about class work and growing up. This has been my last year with Jamie and I know I am going to be taking her life lessons with me.
Mr. Simmonds came to IPS this year. He had some big shoes to fill and he did so incredibly well. Mr. Simmonds took the best of IPS and made it even better and I don’t just mean the fact that we didn’t have to wear school uniforms this year. Nick taught me to look at life from a new perspective, and changed my worldview. Gina made me more creative and more assertive, and pushed me to succeed. And Deidre was always there for me when I felt overwhelmed. I never took French but I am sure that if I had taken it with Saskia, I would have learned a lot from her, too.
Malcolm Forbes once wrote, “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” In many ways over the past four years, IPS has done exactly this. IPS is different from other schools in many ways. Because it is a small school, there are strong relationships between the students and teachers. There is a high degree of respect for the teachers, and a sense that they really care about us. In the middle school years, most students just want to fit in, and avoid standing out in the crowd. At IPS everyone knows who you are, and it’s a good thing. There is no such thing as anonymity here.
I remember, at the beginning of this year, Gina had us do an exercise where we had to take a random number of squares of toilet paper. For each square, we had to reveal to the rest of the class something they did not already know about us. This was really difficult because at this point, after four years together, we all know each other really well. It was really special to recognize that there is so much trust between us, and that we are part of a community that is like a family.
On every piece of IPS clothing it says: Wisdom, Courage, and Integrity and Learning To Make A Difference – the school’s mottos. Unlike some schools, we live by these words. By living with wisdom, courage, and integrity, we are able to find out who we really are. We discover our strengths by being pushed out of our comfort zones. Beyond just academic challenges we are expected to be leaders, especially in Grade 9. We are also challenged physically with our annual kayaking trip to Anvil, our hiking trip up Garibaldi, and our crosscountry skiing trip at Manning Park. In Grade 9 we are also put to the test emotionally with our overnight solo. Through this process, we may also discover our weaknesses, but at IPS we have the support and encouragement to transform them into strengths. IPS inspires you to work hard to be the best you can be.
We have also learned to make a difference in the world around us. For example, The school participated in the 30-hour famine to raise money for food and water for children in Africa. We have learned that by each one of us doing something small, together, we can make a big difference.
I remember when I first came to IPS in Grade 6. At first I didn’t know anyone, but after three days of hiking and sweating with enormous backpacks in Garibaldi, I had made some close friends. I noticed that IPS students had a lot more freedom but I learned quickly that with that comes a lot more responsibility. In Grade 7, I had a hard year and I almost left the school
but because of all the support I got I decided to stick with it, and I am glad I did. Grade 8 was a turning point for me and I began to embrace what IPS was offering me. Being in Grade 9 and graduating feels like I have accomplished so much.
I think about what would have happened if I had just given up. I would not be the same person I am today. I would not have learned that by sticking with something that is hard, you become a stronger person. Through my friendships at IPS, I have learned about the value of many qualities. My friends have taught me that being yourself is more important than trying to be someone you are not, that it is alright to stand by your beliefs (even if they are different from everyone else’s), and that people should help each other.
My hope for the Class of 2008 is that each one of you “makes a difference”. In the future, I would like to pick up a newspaper and see that someone from this graduating class built an energy efficient car, found a cure for cancer, or won the Nobel Peace Prize. I want the Grade 9 class to live fully and not be afraid to believe in themselves. We are often limited by a little voice in our head that tells us that we can’t achieve great things. IPS teaches us to block that voice out.
My wish for IPS is that it keeps on expanding so that more people can benefit from the experience it offers. My advice to the younger students is to stick with it and go all the way through because it is worth it. Even though it may feel really hard at times, you always have the support you need.
At this point I am stepping into a new chapter of my life but I know that what I have learned from IPS is always going to stay with me. I have gained the courage to face life’s many challenges, the wisdom to make good decisions and do the right thing and, I have a better understanding of what integrity means and how important it is. With these skills I believe that all of us will succeed at anything we set our minds to achieve.
Juliette Day, Class of 2008