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Dear Dreamers...

Today is the first day of summer vacation. Last night, the third group of kids I taught in junior high and high school graduated. These kids are a special group. Many of them I taught in 7, 8, and 9, some in 10, and then all in 12. They were the first grade 7 group that I started exploring multimodal composition with. They took chances with me, and we learned together.

Last night was Graduation. I love our short and simple Graduation—less time sitting and more time for the kids to have fun with their friends as they finish one journey and start the next. As I sat there hearing their plans read out as they collected their diplomas, I had this opportunity to reflect on our time together and my hopes for them.

Every year, I have the kids listen to Jason Reynolds For Everyone. His poem talks about our dreams and how sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't, but we need to take the chance to pursue them. I don't speak at Graduation, usually just the Principal and the Valedictorian, but I have a message for my students that the busyness of the last few weeks makes it nearly impossible to state, so I decided to write a letter. I doubt they see it; they don't follow the blog, but I am writing it anyway.

Dear Dreamers,

To the class of 2024, I wish you nothing but the best. On the wall at the back of the room, the quote from Dr. Gholdy Muhammad states, "Make room for Genius, and Genius will emerge." It has been my absolute honor to provide you with that room, when possible, over the years and see that genius come to the surface.

To the reluctant writer who crafts brilliant magic when the words finally come, I am so grateful for the small snippets of brilliance you have left in room 157.

To the artists who left their work to hang on the walls, I am grateful you shared your talents and let everyone see that the beautiful images you create are just as powerful as words.

To the athletes who give so much of their time to prop up a community when the weather keeps us largely inside, I am so grateful you channeled that into powerful poetry that spotlights student-athletes' experiences.

To the athlete whose injuries removed him from the game, you might have the most heart; hold on to that; greatness will find you and your unbreakable spirit.

To the songwriters, I am so grateful that you would share a talent I could only dream of having.

To the actors, thank you for your voices.

To the "Hey, what up, Mr. G" shouting students every morning, I will miss that and you so much.

To the quiet students who prefer to work and not participate in the discussions, I understand and appreciate what you bring to our classrooms.

To the students who always felt like they had to measure up to a sibling and had expectations already set, I appreciate the unique joy you brought to the classroom. Remember, there is something spectacular in asymmetry.

To the hiker turned poet and painter, thank you for sharing your journey. I will never forget it.

To the one who never shied away from telling me how stupid school was but was willing to work with me so we could get through it together, thank you for helping me see what is essential.

To the ones who didn't love the class, I get it. Sometimes, looking for meaning in a snowstorm feels like looking for a single snowflake in that same storm. Thanks for humoring me anyway.

To the ones who felt unprepared but never gave up...thank you.

To all the graduates this year, thank you for being part of room 157 over the years. The countless books, poems, stories, and occasional films we talked about and built our writing around are not the most important part. You were. Without you and your trust in the process, there would be no room 157 for me to share with others. It is my greatest honour to share your excellence and genius with the wider world of education.

As you go forward into new adventures, I hope you can find those dreams to chase. Remember that the road is often dark and dreary, but as Jason reminds us, we can use the spark of hope to light a fire and keep us warm. You are going to have times when you think giving up is the better option; the unknown can be scary to jump into, but just like Jason said,

Dear Dreamers... jump anyway.

Good luck sharing your genius with the world. I know it is there, and I can't wait until the world sees it, too.

-Mr. G

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