Commencement In the New NTCI

Being a 2010 NTCI grad was a unique experience. In many ways, our time at this school was shaped by the prospect of a new NTCI. I came to fieldhockey practice one day in November 2006, grade nine, and a portion of the field on which we practiced was fenced off. The Tridel showroom was being built. I returned to NT in September 2007 and the math wing, within which I was taught my very first class of high school math, was torn down. I watched as the ground outside my high school was broken, and on top of it, a school was built. Every single assembly I attended opened with a line about the new “LEED certified, state-of-the-art eco-school, with dual flush toilets and lime-green accents.” And just as Tridel opened the doors to the anxiously-awaited, remodeled North Toronto Collegiate Institute, I was on my way to University. As Adam Wilks likes to say, the grads of 2010 were the “Martyr Grade.” We experienced the most years of construction and, in return, spent the least years in the new building. Sure enough, four months after I wrote my last high school exam, I returned to my beloved school to graduate from it, and was walking across a stage I’d never stood on before.

Graduating from a place I didn’t go to was upsetting, at least for me. Overall, I’d say it was a weird mesh of feelings: a few of us cared so much, and yet, other people couldn’t care less. For me, it’s true, old NT was just a building; just a plain, old, asbestos filled building, with falling red bricks and deteriorating walls. But NTCI was not just a run down structure, nor was it an X and Y point on Roehampton Ave; it was where I attended high school, where I lived for four long years. It contained the channels I walked every day, the landmarks I used to navigate my way around– and it included the stairway to nowhere. Inside of that building, I was taught my favourite class, I was taught my least favourite class, I met people that have forever changed my life, and NT became as much a part of me as I was a part of it. When I walk by the abandoned old NT, I still shed a few tears. I hate that I’ll never be able to return to a place I loved so wholeheartedly.

New NT is beautiful. It’s a nice high school. It has a beautiful heritage court, and I am happy to see that the installing photos from past Maytime Melodies, lists of previous Ontario Scholars and photos of Atheletes of the Year was a priority. It’s still NT, that’s undeniable: but I didn’t go to it. 2011 grads, you will at least feel something when you return next October: you’ll see a special place where you ate lunch, where you cried, where you laughed and where you hung out with your friends, and you’ll feel something. Mrs. Hayden won’t have to come on the P.A and explain to you how to get to the “Student Commons.” You will not look out the window and see your high school, over yonder, boarded up, dark, empty and un-furnished. New NTCI will mean something to you, maybe a little or maybe a lot.

You and all of NTCI’s future graduates are lucky, because you will all have that. Appreciate it. But me, and all of NTCI’s past graduates won’t anymore.

20 years from now, or 30 years from now, most of my memories from high school will get wiped off the blackboard. There’s no telling what I might remember from those four years. Memories fade over time, and that’s why people like to return to the places of their past, so that they can to bring those moments and those memories back to life.

That’s why keeping old NTCI intact was important to me, and that’s why I cry when I think that my old high school – the building where I went to high school, where I spent four years of my life – is gone.