Ian Smyth

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I graduated in 2013 and dashed like a crazy person to Ryerson’s New Media program, eager to separate myself from the naive and juvenile grips of high school… only to find that, alas, my attitude was just as naive and juvenile as I was projecting the rest of the school to be.

High school has cemented itself as an icon in popular culture, and thus as a significant period in our lives, because it’s the time where you have to begin to ask yourselves: do I want to face life’s challenges and endure hardships and grow as an individual, or do I want to run away and escape and pretend to “grow up”?  Because, if you think your life in high school is difficult, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise once you leave it. Life doesn’t get easier. Objectively, it’s much harder. You have to make decisions wholly for yourself, earn at least a minimum income to buy things for survival (food, water, shelter, heat, etc.), and work with an incredibly wide variety of people spanning all kinds of different ages, who all come from vastly different backgrounds and hold a multitude of opinions, most of which you probably won’t agree with.

“So,” you might be wondering, “What’s the point then? Why move forward if it’s only going to get harder?” The point is: through hardship we grow, through challenge we expand our consciousness, and through learning we move forward. Never stop learning. School exists not as a hindrance that you should dread waking up for in the morning, but as the single most important opportunity in your lives to leverage and propel yourselves forward.

Look at high school as a trampoline. You can either spend four/five years jumping and slowly increasing your momentum until you bounce off high into the next phase of your life, or spend it slowly sinking in the middle, and having to walk off of it at some point anyway. And the only way to properly move forward is to have the right attitude: an attitude that says, when you wake up and look out the window, “I’m ready for whatever today will bring me, be it in the form of hardship or success.” An attitude that when faced with what seems like an insurmountable problem, takes a deep breath, a step back, and breaks it down into manageable components. An attitude that actually wants to learn, that’s excited to be exposed to new experiences and is eager to take the amazingly wide variety of classes available at Milton District. If you can master this kind of attitude, then it doesn’t matter where you want to go, who you want to work for, or what you want to do: you’ll attract people to you like a magnet, and you will actually change the world.

If you haven’t already done so, then start today. Be the best possible version of yourself that you can be. Challenge yourself. Grow. Never stop learning. If you’re not content with something in your life, then change it. High school is literally the perfect time in your life to cultivate the right attitude. Take advantage of the wonderful opportunities available to you every single day, seek help when you need it from any one of the exceptional staff, and hold your head up high with a smile across your face. If you can master that, you’ve already mastered life.


From Mark Saunders to Chris Hadfield, you might be surprised to learn who has come through MD, and where they are now!

Were YOU at MD? We welcome all updates to share here.  Please include your full name, years at MD, a photo, update, and any advice you can share with our current community here. Submit to gleesona@hdsb.ca.

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