GUYSBOROUGH – Former Guysborough Academy teacher Greg Hadley does research on the health of rural communities in Nova Scotia as part of his work as a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at StFX University. He shared some of the insights he’s gained along the way as guest speaker at Guysborough Academy graduation on June 27.
These are challenging times for rural communities, he reminded the grads, because of depopulation. That fuels the belief that in order to make something of yourself, you have to leave your rural community, he said. “This is simply not true.”
Hadley acknowledged that ambitions may take grads to other places, for education and work, “and I encourage that....There is a wonderful richness that comes from leaving and exploring new locales.
“But even as you do this, remember your hometown,” he said. “Remember that opportunity can exist anywhere.”
As the grads of 2018 consider where the future may take them, he encourages them to “keep your home community and the people who live there and have helped you along the way, in mind.”
And regardless of those plans, he encouraged graduates to commit themselves to lifelong learning. “There is such satisfaction in continuing your education, both professionally and personally.”
The other themes of Hadley’s remarks were around rejection and opportunity. In dealing with rejection, he encouraged resilience.
“I’ve been rejected for jobs, scholarships, fellowships and volunteer opportunities. How does one even get rejected for a volunteer opportunity?” he asked. “I’ve joked that I’ve been turned down more than the beds at the Debarres Manor.”
Rejection is difficult, he said, “and I’m sure some of you can relate to this...If you can’t, you will.”
He stressed the importance of picking yourself back up, and quoted Winston Churchill, who said: “Success is going from failure to failure, without losing your enthusiasm.”
Hadley also encouraged the grads to watch for opportunities “and don’t be afraid to move on them.”
He reminded them that they are their own best advocates. “If you want something more in your life, make an opportunity and find a way to get it.”
Hadley taught this year’s graduating class in Grade nine social studies.
Valedictorian for the 2018 class was Maria MacDonald. She took her fellow grads on a trip down memory lane, sharing special memories and humorous anecdotes from each year, starting with Grade Primary.
When it came to Grade 12, she said people warned the grads it would go by fast – which came true.
“This year has been a blur,” she said.
MacDonald conveyed special thanks to the parents and teachers who helped the students get to this day. And she encouraged the grads, all taking different paths now, to “remember your roots, remember where you came from, and remember who you grew up with.”