Skip to content

New school year kicks off with mix of nerves, excitement for Bradford students, teacher

“Everyone says (high school) is one of the best parts of your life. I’m excited to see what’s next in my life”: Holy Trinity Catholic High School student

Today is the first day of school for many students in Bradford West Gwillimbury, and some are already dreading exams.

“The whole thought of them is stressful, having to retain all that information,” said Karissa Beaudoin, 13, a Grade 9 student at Holy Trinity Catholic High School.

She, along with many others, took part in a Grade 9 orientation at the high school last week, where students buzzed with a mix of nerves and excitement.

“I’m a little bit of both,” said Beaudoin. “It’s the next big step.”

For Jacklynn Bowdery, 14, another Grade 9 student at Holy Trinity, high school comes with expectations.

“I’m just very, very nervous. There’s a bunch of emotions,” she said. “Everyone says (high school) is one of the best parts of your life. I’m excited to see what’s next in my life.”

Even with trepidation, some other students at the orientation were looking forward to joining clubs and teams, such as volleyball, hockey, swimming, basketball and athletic council.

“I’m nervous about exams and homework, (but) I’m excited for the new experiences,” said Alessya Farrugia, 13.

For Jon Sweeny, chair of the co-operative education department at Bradford District High School, going back to school is old hat, but some nerves still pop up.

“I’m excited. There always is the butterflies, the bit of nervousness,” he said, but “I’ve been doing it for so long it comes naturally to me.”

But he still remembers how he felt on his very first day as a teacher 18 years ago.

“Nervous as heck. Kind of very scary,” he said, adding he thankfully never feels that level of nervousness anymore.

He said a fellow teacher once told him, “Just survive. Don’t let it get to you. Survive the first semester — it’ll be easier.”

And that is Sweeny’s continuous struggle as a co-op teacher — helping students find a job placement and getting them to stick with it, which can be a frustrating task.

“It’s quite different than a typical classroom. We have to involve the community. It can be extremely beneficial for a lot of students … but it can be quite damaging to students who get bored or fed up,” he said. “We ask them what they want to do. They say, ‘I don’t know.’ In the back of my mind, you think, ‘Why did you sign up for co-op?’”

However, about 85 per cent to 90 per cent of students in his class are successful in having a good placement, he added.

The placements have ranged from police and fire departments, Southlake Regional Health Centre and the military, to a veterinarian’s office, schools and automotive shops.

“Bradford is continuing to grow and change and there’s always a vast array of opportunities,” Sweeny said. “This is an opportunity for (students) to grow. They need to have the passion and goals for themselves to succeed.”

Any business owner interested in having a co-op student can contact Sweeny at


Jenni Dunning

About the Author: Jenni Dunning

Jenni Dunning is a community editor and reporter who covers news in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury.
Read more