Back to school:
 what it means to me

MP Rob Oliphant talks to students at Northlea Elementary.
MP Rob Oliphant talks to students at Northlea Elementary.

When I was young (or younger!) the summer seemed like a time of endless possibility – visiting family, riding my bike, tennis and swimming lessons, lazy cottage days and a myriad of adventures to be shared with my friends. At the end of June, Labour Day seemed lightyears away. Eight or 10 weeks seemed like an eternity.

Now that I am old (or older!), I blink and summer is over. My parents had warned me of this when I was a child, but as the days shorten and the cooler air slips in around us and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is now available as of August 28, I still can’t believe that it is “back to school time.”

For me, it will be back to Ottawa after a great summer in the riding visiting people, knocking on doors and sitting on more than a few front porches discussing life, politics and the Rogers Cup. For young people in Leaside, it is back to school, perhaps the first day at Rolph Road or St. Anselm or Northlea. Or a new start at Bessborough or Leaside High School. Or it is a return to a familiar school but with the chance to make a new start with new teachers, some new classmates and new opportunities. For some of our young people, it is time to take off for college or university close to home or far away, with all the anxiety and excitement that can cause.

Regardless, for all of us the fall brings possibilities for a fresh start. For most of us it is really more of a new year than January 1st. Even as the trees begin to turn colour and the gardens are put to bed for the winter, we sense that it is a time of renewal and rebirth.

Fall offers us the chance to learn something new, to develop a new skill or create a new opportunity for ourselves or for our friends, families or neighbours.

This summer I spent time visiting a variety of organizations, faith and other charitable groups and businesses that have received funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program. Over 60 such groups received funding to hire summer students to help young people at day camps like Pawsitively Pets and Pedalheads in Leaside, work in research and care at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital, or do creative environmental work at the Summerhill corporate offices in the Leaside Business Park.

An impressive group of older high school, college and university students are now making their way back to school after productive summers learning skills that will further their careers and, at the same time, make a difference in the world.

I wish all young people returning to school a fun, safe and inspiring year back at school. And to everyone, I hope that this fall is an opportunity to learn something new and continue to build the Leaside community.

Rob Oliphant is MP for Don Valley West.