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Our Parents’ Farewell Address

At our Graduation Breakfasts at each of our branches, we were privileged to hear from two parents — Alisa Daly’95 at our Himel Branch and Ilana Graben at our Viewmount Branch. Both their heartfelt addresses to the Class of 2022 spoke of the impact Bialik has made on their lives and those of their families. 


Himel Branch

Good morning. My name is Alisa Daly and I am honoured to be speaking to you this morning as a Bialik alum and a proud parent. I have promised Ben that I will not humiliate him by crying this morning so bear with me as I do my best. 

The truth is that Ben is so worried that I will embarrass him because I have been in this emotional state about him graduating since September. Since the first day of grade 8, I have been dreading the eventual passing of time. In trying to understand why, I think I have landed on the fact that I have spent these past 8 years trying to come to terms with the fact that I am actually a Bialik parent. I think deep down inside, I still connect so strongly to Bialik from my student days that being a Bialik mom has taken a long time to get used to.  

If I close my eyes, I can still be instantly transported to my 10 years at Viewmount. Each grade is clear as day in my mind. I can spend hours reliving all of it, vividly and with the biggest smile on my face because for 10 years, Bialik was my home. 

 When I graduated, I had the choice of where to go to high school. I chose CHAT. After high school, my desire for continued academic excellence drove me to pursue degrees at McGill, The London School of Economics and OISE. In my late teens and early twenties, I took every opportunity to spend as much time as possible in Israel- travelling, learning and immersing myself. In my career, I have had the courage, skill set and drive to pursue entrepreneurship but also a desire to devote myself to Jewish education and continuity. I know that these choices and these paths that I went down stemmed in part from the deep and wonderful foundational base that Bialik gave me as a student. I know this will be the same for Ben and all the graduates here today. I guess this is why I am so profoundly sad and in disbelief that these years that Bialik spent shaping Ben into the person he is, are over.

Since Grade 1, Ben has been in the most supportive learning environment any child or parent could ask for. He has had incredible educators that pushed out of his comfort zone, gave him the tools and strategies to succeed and navigate difficult situations. And when things didn’t go as planned, both he and I always, always, had a soft place to land. Bialik taught Ben to tolerate adversity, be resilient and define success in many ways. Ben is now truly a remarkable, hard working, creative and dedicated student who knows and believes that he can push himself, do hard things and enjoy the successes that come from hard work.

There have been so many incredible teachers over the years, each one so devoted and so loving. I know that every parent here today feels the same. The teachers at Himel have been the most special part of our experience. Thank you to each and every one of you. Lauren, you have put your heart and soul into our kids and this school, and it shows each day that our kids walk through the door. You have always been on the end of the phone and email for every anxious moment, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone when I say thank you for absolutely everything.  

Beverly, well what can I say. Many of these kiddies opened the doors of Himel with you and graduate today with you. You have quite honestly put your whole self into leading this school. I, personally, have felt so lucky and comforted to have you as the incredible captain of this ship and it has been a joy and an honour to have had you as my teacher and the boy’s principal. You have left an incredible mark on Himel and personally on the Daly/ Mitchell family. 

To my fellow parents sitting here today, while it is of course a beautiful time to look backwards and see how far our kids have come and how much they have grown, I am probably not alone in yearning for an uneventful October day in grade 5 where the years are still ahead of us, our kids are little, and time feels slower. 

Our days of raising our kids are exhausting and mostly we don’t want to stop time then but in the journey with our children — the milestones, the different life stages, the process of them becoming humans — time is in charge, time has all the power, and we are just along for the ride. 

So, as we sit here together, I suppose we are left to embrace how quickly time goes and just truly enjoy the adventure. 

 As this group moves onwards and upwards, please join me in celebrating, accepting, and being profoundly sad at how fast it went…while also being incredibly joyful that our kids had such a wonderful Bialik experience.

 To Ben and all the graduates, I am going to leave you with what I know to be true. As you all embark on the next stage of your journey in life, Bialik will always be with you. Whether you walked through these doors as the first SK cohort or joined this community along the way, Bialik is in your heart, it is part of your Neshama. I urge you to hold on to each other and your friendships, you have been together for so long and these relationships are irreplaceable. 

After these past two years, you are truly more resilient that you know, and you have the ability to face everything that comes your way. 

Bialik has left you with the skills, the knowledge and the drive to do anything and everything you want in life. It is on you now to walk out these doors and change the world. I with you the best of luck and the most fun doing it. 

Mazal tov to everyone. 

Alisa Daly’95

Himel Grad Parent


Viewmount Branch

Good morning Graduates, Parents, Teachers and School Administration.

What an honour to be standing here in front of all of you for such a special milestone. Our children have worked hard to get here, they faced many challenges. They deserve to celebrate and be celebrated.

This is the second time my husband Aaron and I have been the proud parents of a Bialik Graduate. Our daughter Sydney graduated in 2019 and is currently finishing grade 11. Today we get to celebrate our beautiful Brookie. And we still have one child to go. Our son Judah is finishing grade 5 and moving onto senior division. It is not a final goodbye for our family at Bialik, but we will be saying farewell to elementary school.

 When looking for a school to send our children to we knew we wanted a place that would help instil a strong connection to Judaism and help our kids form a positive Jewish identity. We wanted our kids to know that no matter where they were in the world they could always walk into a Synagogue or visit a Jewish community and be welcomed. Bialik has educated and encouraged our kids to learn about where they come from and proudly talk about their Jewish heritage and ancestors.

For the past 12 years, the Bialik community has become like an extended family. When we started here although we did not know many students or parents we were warmly welcomed and have always felt at home. I thought the best way to meet more people was to get involved. I started by being a class parent and met some wonderful welcoming parents, and I am still close with them to this day. They encouraged me to continue to get involved, which led me to join the PTA executive as event/volunteer chair and I eventually moved on to co-chair the PTA. Like all the other amazing parent volunteers at Bialik, getting involved provides us with the opportunity to give back and demonstrate to our children there are many ways to give and support their school. The kids also got to see that my support of Bialik simultaneously enriched my life in many ways. I appreciate all the help and support our family has received from teachers, office staff and the administration through the years. Thank you for all that you do.

I went out for dinner last week with some of my friends whom I have known since elementary and middle school. It made me think about how fortunate our kids are to have had the opportunity to create amazing memories and friendships during their time here at Bialik, and I suspect that many of these relationships will endure. I know that they have created lifelong friendships. 

The other night Aaron and I were sitting with Brooke. We started talking about her thoughts and memories from school. She went through, year by year, reminding us of her amazing teachers and favourite memories, some of which were field trips, 50 Day, 100 Day, plays, holidays, and especially spending time with her friends. She made us laugh and smile. We are so thankful to all of you for helping her create all these memories and know she will take them with her and hold onto them.

I know that our kids will leave here and continue to grow and learn. Bialik has helped to build a strong foundation for them. Mazal Tov to all our graduates! Wishing all of you success in your next chapters. 

 

Ilana Graben

Viewmount Grad Parent