It is no small coincidence that optimism is highlighted as a key value of Aberdeen Hall. In fact, it’s entirely possible that there would not be an Aberdeen Hall today if it were not for optimism – the commitment to a bright and hopeful future and the steadfast belief that the outcome will be positive. If we rewind back to our very earliest days - 70 students nestled into portables on Acland Road – I think we would witness optimism working overtime. Even then, our community knew we had something special, and we harnessed this innate intuition with a lot (A LOT!) of hard work, passion and partnership to keep us propelling forward. And propel forward we did - with a firm belief that simply hoping for the best can be a critical step in planning for the future. Sometimes, when I step into the Advancement Office, I swear I hear the walls sing, “take a look at us now!”
And really, take a look at us now. There is no better way to observe optimism in action than to take a stroll through our school. It’s no secret that if I’m having a bad day, I find a reason to visit our Early Learning Centre. A moment to peek into our preschool classrooms is like a salve for the soul - and I am reminded that a school like ours is a reason to hang onto optimism and hope. The preschoolers are equally as excited for a sunny day (hurray, playground!) as a rainy one (hurray, puddles!). And next door, our Junior School students are ferociously looking forward to their next house team competition. Yet another building over, our Middle and Senior School students are pouring over course selections in anticipation of what’s to come and I overhear conversations with our University Guidance Counsellor Steve Acree about application deadlines and interview strategies. At every stage, we can look to our students as a reminder there is so very much to look forward to.
We’ve heard a lot about resilience over the course of the pandemic, and about the importance of developing the ability to bounce back or recover from hardship and difficulty. And there is no doubt, we’ve all faced hardship and difficulty in recent times. Even the most mundane of activities has been upended with stress, anxiety, fear, a sense of hopelessness… and I’ve found that resilience is only one of the necessary ingredients to navigate through those feelings. It’s when resilience purposefully collides with optimism that we are able to finally, and gratefully, look forward again. Like any good pairing (peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, milk and cookies….), resilience and optimism complement each other beautifully and like digging into that figurative PB&J, there is comfort to be found here.
Speaking of comfort, over the last two years, we turned our focus to just that; making sure that our impacted community members were well-supported. Many things were placed on pause during the uncertainty of those initial pandemic days and fundraising and the future planning of our school were no exception. It’s hard to make plans when the future feels like a rather ambiguous place, isn’t it? When the present feels like one big holding room, waiting, waiting. And yet… and yet… We have been inspired by the encouragement and yes, OPTIMISM, of some of our families, who encouraged us to resume the next phase of Aberdeen Hall (our Athletic and Wellness Centre, which we hope to break ground on in June 2022). Our very history demonstrates that we are a determined and hearty bunch and that we can accomplish anything together (should I remind you that we started a school WHERE THERE WAS NO SCHOOL). It is minimizing to refer to a global pandemic as simply a bump in the road, sure - but it’s important to note that being able to re-frame even serious challenges as temporary setbacks or learning opportunities is what allows us to grow in our human experience.
When I return to my desk from my walk around the school, I know that we all can learn from the behaviours of our students. Facing the day with a positive outlook supports many benefits like lower stress levels, stronger coping mechanisms, better physical health, and - no surprise here - more persistence when pursuing goals.
Read that again. And again, one more time. So while I know sometimes it feels like optimism is working overtime - check that yellowed poster, and hang in there… Hang in there! Optimism as a practice in gratitude is very worthwhile, and there is so much good among us and ahead, at Aberdeen Hall.
By Kylee Wilson,
At Aberdeen Hall, we seek to admit well-rounded students who choose to be at our school. We are looking for students who demonstrate leadership through academic performance, involvement in co-curricular activities and civic engagement. We care about our students and seek those who value education and are prepared to enrich our incredible school community.