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Mazal Tov to Our Resilient Grade 8 Graduates

Dear Bialik Graduates of 2020,

Mazal tov to you all!

.כל הכבוד על המאמץ, העבודה, הנחישות, והאכפטיות שהביאו אותכם לרגע הזה

Completing your time at Bialik represents a wonderful accomplishment, one which should give you and your families a tremendous sense of pride. This is true of every graduating class, of course, but all the more so for the class of 2020, as the home stretch of your Bialik experience has been so unique.  

But before I talk about you, the student graduates, I want to call everyone’s attention to three grown-ups who are graduating this year as well.  Two of our veteran Jewish studies teachers, Hava Bevcovici and Liora Blower, are both retiring after long, illustrious careers at Bialik. Hava has been with Bialik for over 20 years.  Liora worked at Bialik for an initial stint, left, and then returned for an additional 10+ years of service. You can’t spend that long at a school without becoming integral to the culture and the community. We will miss Hava and Liora; Bialik won’t be the same without you.  

And of course, Kathy Friedman, our Director of Jewish Studies, is also retiring at the end of this year. In five short years at Bialik, Kathy has had a tremendous impact on our program, adding excellence, rigour and Ru’ach to all that we do. Beyond her wonderful professional contributions, Kathy is also a valued friend to many of us, and we will miss her next year.  B’hatzlacha, Kathy, as you move on to new challenges.  

Now, back to our graduates. So you may have noticed…this year has been a year like no other!  After what for many of you have been nine relatively uneventful — or at least “normal” — years at Bialik, the lead-up to your graduation has been marked by a global pandemic, physical distancing, at-home learning, and seemingly endless Zoom sessions.  As the years pass, previous generations of grads may have trouble remembering the specifics of their final year at Bialik.  But, no matter how old you grow, you will have no trouble recalling the peculiar circumstances of the last few months.  

The creation of strong memories is a powerful thing.  Ask your parents or grandparents where they were when world history was made: the fall of the Berlin Wall, or perhaps September 11, 2001.  They will certainly remember these moments, where they were, and what were they doing when they occurred. 

The same is true about important events in our personal lives. The moments of joy and sorrow that punctuate our lifetimes serve as time-markers around which we order the rest of our experiences.  “That was just after your brother was born.” “That was the last time I visited my grandmother. “That was two months before we moved into our new house.”  

And so now, the Coronavirus and your unprecedented Grade 8 experience will become one of those defining moments in your lives.  It is true that being confined to your homes and finishing your Senior Division studies from a distance hasn’t been ideal. You have been separated from your friends and relatives, hockey teams and dance troupes. And there really is only so much Netflix a person can watch.  

But I hope you have found that this physical distancing regimen has also brought some positives into your lives as well.  Time to spend with your parents and siblings. A chance to rediscover the simple pleasures of reading, gardening or cooking. Even the fun of “going to school” in your pyjamas or taking a nap in the middle of the day.  

Whatever your “take” on the last few months, we know that you will always associate your Bialik graduation with Zoom ceremonies and diplomas distributed from a distance. Good, bad, weird, the experience is unique and will be one of those milestones that mark your lives. You probably already know what you will remember from “those crazy months before I graduated from Bialik.” How exciting, now, to see what memories you’ll make as you move on to the next chapter and begin high school.

!אנחנו – מורים וצוות בית הספר, יחד עם הוריכם – מאד גאים בכם

No matter what the future holds, with its experiences and highlights to remember, we wish you הצלחה ובריות! Congratulations on all your wonderful achievements. We are quite certain there are many more to come!

 

Benjy Cohen

Head of School