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By Natalia Garcia

Editor’s note: The following article was delivered as a speech at St. George School in Ontario’s Opening Mass for Catholic Schools Week 2022.

Good morning everyone, and thank you all for coming to our beginning of Catholic Schools Week Mass. My name is Natalia Garcia and I am the Student Council President here at St. George School. I have attended St. George since Jr. Kindergarten and have remained here for almost 10 years.

I have been able to make many unforgettable memories with my classmates and amazing teachers. I remember walking the halls of school on my first day and being welcomed with open arms by my teacher. Being so young and nervous about my first day and having a teacher there for me helped me realize that I wanted to stay at this school.

St. George pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and without that push, I wouldn’t have been in many of the things that I was in and am in now. These things include Student Council, yearbook, the soccer and volleyball team and honors classes, which St. George provided for me. These activities opened up ways for me to create friendships with others, and at the same time, expand my learning opportunities in a fun and enjoyable way.

The teachers at St. George also immensely contribute to making sure the students are getting the best help they can get, especially with restrictions regarding COVID-19. Making the students feel understood and heard is important for our development, which is why our teachers make it their responsibility to keep the students informed and up to speed.

Two of my personal favorite subjects that I think many students could enjoy would be Math and English Language Arts. Although being in honors for both of these subjects is a lot of work, being able to accomplish the challenges with the help of my classmates and teachers at St. George helps build me up as a student. I have the opportunity to work with others at a level that I find suitable and comfortable for myself which I think is very important for a progressing student.

We also have different creative projects that help students think outside of the box such as the upcoming Bridge Project for Honors Math which challenges students to create their own miniature model of a durable bridge. Projects and experiments like these are great ways to work with others as a group which ultimately helps students communicate and work with each other if they don’t understand.

St. George also has different sports for students who take an interest in athletics. Soccer and volleyball are two of the sports I enjoyed playing at St. George, but there is also basketball, football and track for students who might like different options. Just as many of our classes, these sports are an opportunity to work and come together as a school, community and family. Being able to work with each other on the field and reflecting that teamwork back on the school campus can help students develop partnership and responsibilities.

Two of the most important things I've learned at St. George are respect and faith. Having respect for your teachers, classmates, yourself and everyone at school is extremely important in becoming a Catholic Leader of Tomorrow. St. George taught me to respect and accept everybody, that no one person is above another and that we are all equal. Being able to have that mentality at a school creates a safe and comfortable environment for the students to grow and develop in.

St. George also taught me to have faith in God in times of stress and pressure, to have faith that God will be there to provide hope and reassurance when a feeling of being overwhelmed becomes too strong. This faith in God that St. George has taught me has helped me grow into a Catholic leader, and as I finish off my eighth-grade year and graduate as part of the class of 2022, I will be able to move forward in my life as a Catholic Leader of Tomorrow.

Natalia Garcia is an eighth-grade student and Student Body President at St. George School, Ontario.