As the recent school year drew to a close, for my future students joining us in the inaugural year of the SINAI Shalem High School for Boys at Heichal HaTorah, the excitement of summer was mixed with emotions as they began to actualize the meaning of their past four high school years at SINAI Shalem at TABC.
With the opening of our new high school for boys ages 18-21, we are providing our students the opportunity to graduate with their TABC friends, and, like those friends, to move on to the next stage in their lives. In the years ahead, our students will be preparing for adulthood, albeit via a different route than their TABC friends. And so, like any other high school graduate, in the last weeks of school our students reminisced. About those teachers who had spent countless days and months helping them improve in math, reading, writing and life skills. About the smell of the recipes that they had worked on and mastered, and the hurdles that they had confronted and eventually overcome. They remembered the school events that they had enjoyed with peers and the Shabbatonim that had made a lasting impact on them.
As I took a view from upon a perch and watched our students enjoying their final moments, I couldn’t help smiling as I anticipated the feelings that these boys have yet to realize. For them, graduation from SINAI Shalem at TABC is an ending. But I know that there is a tremendously exciting beginning just ahead of them, a beginning awaiting them as June becomes July and August becomes September.
It is intoxicating and inspiring to know that my staff and I will have a chance to share the experiences ahead with these boys. I look forward to helping guide them through the challenges, fears, and anxieties of their next high school experience with us, knowing that once it is all over they will be looking back at those moments, as they are doing now, with fondness and appreciation as another end begets another beginning.
For many, an ending is finite and “other.” The moment that a given school year is over you know that you will never again experience that year, and that the next year you will join a new class of students who is “other” to the group that will fill your current place. What we must never lose, and what we must try to impart to all of our children, is an appreciation for what that past year or years mean in the long term trajectory of our lives. It is something often unappreciated until years later and sometimes missed entirely.
Looking from afar, we have have the ability to see the wonders that await our students’ futures. For us it is a calling to arms, a jolt that gets us excited and focused on the tasks ahead. For our students, this unknown future is full of unrealized potential, a magnificent adventure waiting to be realized.