You’re never too old to go back

A few months ago I made a decision to return to school in order to complete Grade 12 and, thereby, receive a graduation diploma.

A few months ago I made a decision to return to school in order to complete Grade 12 and, thereby, receive a graduation diploma.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to many of my long standing critics that I never stayed in school long enough to learn some of the basics about English language composition.

Well, I’m just going to surprise all of you by completing the requisite courses and, hopefully, receive high marks in the process.

I began Grade 12 in September 1956 at Maple Ridge Senior Secondary, but part way through the year I moved to Vancouver to live with my birth father.

I attended Kitsilano High School for a few months before deciding that I was better suited for traveling and partying and more exciting things in life than attending school.

I guess I don’t have to tell you how brain-dead and stupid that turned out.

I spent the next few decades of my life looking back with regret.

That little blip in my education stood in the way of almost anything I had ever hoped to achieve.

You might well wonder why it took me so long to get around to doing what I should have done 57 years ago. I can only tell you that the reasons for this unseemly delay are many and complicated.

I was working and couldn’t take the time off; then I was married and had children to support; then I was too old, anyway.

I think you can get it by now.

Another excuse was that I thought I was already about as smart as a man needs to be to succeed.

After all, I had owned a few small and almost successful businesses. I had also worked for a few years in real estate. Of course, there was my great, or, not so great, success in municipal and federal politics. And I would be remiss if I left out my career as a reporter and columnist.

All of this was done without benefit of a completed high school education. So for about 57 years, I let my ego stand in the way of improving myself and my value as an employee, father, husband, and member of the community.

Then a funny thing happened. A couple of years ago, my grandson’s wife went back to school to earn a graduation diploma. At that time, Maria was looking after her two children, her husband, all of the normal stuff any mother undertakes, and making sure the kids got to soccer, dance and ball games on time. Despite all of this, she found time to get back to school and graduate.

With Maria’s success, I was left with no excuses. Other than writing this, I am retired and have plenty of time. So I made initial inquiries concerning what courses I would be required to take. I was informed that I needed English 12 and History 12.

The English course is mainly composition. So, when I have successfully completed that assignment, I will be a much better writer. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The history course is based on the 20th Century. This should be relatively easy since I managed to survive through 60 cent of it.

A few weeks ago, we received our mid-term report cards. I was fairly satisfied with my marks, but I wasn’t sure if I had to take the report card home for my wife to sign.

Trying to explain to two of my great-grandchildren that grandpa was going back to school was hilarious. They think I’m way too old.

The main purpose behind writing this is the possibility that there are others out there who, for one reason or another, left school without graduating.

I’m here to tell you it’s never too late to go back.


– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.


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