Racing back to school!

The school season is about to begin. The last week of August is often used to warm up the tires and get everyone familiar with the track. The race is approximately 180 days long. Hopefully your batteries are charged and your tank is full! If you have used the off-season to re-engineer your vehicle then you are ready for the starting grid.

The course. School may appear to be fraught with danger as you map out all of its intellectual and interpersonal twists and turns. You will be taking new subjects with new teachers; some you will love and others you will loath. Your job is to stay on track as you navigate the hairpin turns of pop quizzes and mordacious looks and comments that seem to come at you from all sides. You must also hold steady on the straightaways, during the monotony of the regular school days. Eventually you will begin to anticipate what each teacher requires and how you need to respond to be successful.

The car. You have three basic functions at your disposal: acceleration, braking, and steering. The difference between successful students and those who drop out is the wisdom to choose the correct function for each social or academic situation, and deciding how to apply it in the right measure. Generally it is the steady application of one of these three that will save the day! (A note about the car – make sure that it meets all the regulations. Cheating in any way is not tolerated and could get you thrown out of the race – even on the last lap.)

The competition. The track itself should be the least of your worries. Racing along with you are other students. Some will inevitably bump, grind and occasionally crash. You must weave around those who may, intentionally or not, steer or knock you off course. From time to time you will find it necessary to maneuver around debris left from previous impacts. In school there are many impediments to progress – slacking, partying, romantic distractions, drugs and alcohol to name a few. Managing your way through these hazards will improve your ability to handle future crises. Remember however, not every other driver on the track is a competitor; some are teammates. Choose your team wisely. Look out for each other and try to protect your friends from disasters.

Crashes. Surprisingly, these unexpected collisions are rarely fatal. Get into the repair pits as quickly as possible. Here experienced teachers and administrators will help piece you back together, top up your fuel and send you back out to finish your race. These professionals have seen it all. Trust their experience. Listen to them and heed their advice. They have your best interests at heart because they are on your team.

The Checkered Flag. At this point the finish line may seem like an impossible dream. However, with each test you pass, each assignment you complete, each project you submit, the closer you will be getting to your goal. Along the way you will be cheered and motivated by those who want to see you succeed, your family and friends. As you race along, don’t miss the opportunity to reflect upon the fact that you are participating in one of the most interesting and vibrant times of your life. Regardless how difficult, confusing and occasionally chaotic school feels, there is always something or someone to be celebrated, always an event to be enjoyed. If you really want to accumulate some great memories, do not trail behind the pack; get involved. It will be exhilarating and you will be surprised how rewarding it will feel.

In June, as you graduate from one level to the next, take the time to let the sensation of success sink in. Enjoy the moment but don’t get stuck there. Success is never permanent. Gear up, the next race is about to begin!

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