Belmont secondary principal Ray Miller has a good way to make a connection with Grade 9 and 10 students.
At an assembly Monday morning, he offered the teens two personal facts about himself: one, that he’s a huge Toronto Maple Leafs hockey fan; and two, that on his next birthday, he’ll be 14, the same age many of them are now (his birthday is Feb. 29).
In his office on Tuesday, the first full day of school for all students, Miller acknowledged the teachers strike created challenges for everyone involved, from educators to students to parents.
“We’ve all lost something. This is like a grieving process and we have to help people go through it,” he said, adding that good communications are key. “(As administrators) we support our teachers and it’s really important that we keep a good relationship with our staff.”
Miller and his fellow administrators did their best to simplify things for the startup, he said, to enable students and staff to have less time to adjust to the schedule. He voiced pride in the fact the school pulled together the necessary components of a school year startup in just two days.
“We wanted to hit the ground running so the kids could get into a healthy routine, and that goes for the adults in the building as well.”
Miller is fond of walking around the school on occasion to ensure things are running smoothly. He likes to say he “has the finger on the pulse of the school.”
“And right now I’m hearing a healthy heartbeat,” he said.
Part of that health is in the students, who Miller said make the place tick.
A group of Grade 12s sat down to talk a little about how they felt being back at school for the first time in three months.
“I’m very excited. It’s good to see the grad class back together,” said Jordan Ywork, who spent much of the summer abroad.
Added Monique Lutyk, “Summer got real boring real fast. We just want to get back to work.”
For some Belmont students, getting back down to business and completing mandatory courses is critical.
Mackenzie Parker, who plans to study fashion design in London, England, is one of those students who is very anxious to graduate.
Grace Kirkpatrick pointed out this group is part of the final graduating class from the old Belmont school.
“I’m glad we’re back. I think we all wanted to get out grad year started,” she said.