It seems like it was only yesterday, you came forth into this world, gracing our family with your presence. You've grown tremendously, since then. In mind, in spirit and in body.
From your first breaths until now, I've watched you grow ... nay blossom, into the wonderful young lady you are today.
This past year, is no exception to any other. There have been some highs, lows and much in the middle, as is life for most people. There have been moments that are exceptional and pivotal to show you that not only are you a unique individual, you are valued for the qualities that make up the being that is you. Also that practice and hard work will get you results and recognition.
Starting off with the big move to the high school. There was anxiety and fear over what it would be like, how you'd all be treated and if there'd be any issues. I'm sure it was a scary proposition for many of your classmates and you. You all settled down and adjusted well.
Next you decided to join the 908 Rainy Lake Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron. At first I wasn't sure if you were going to stick with it, but you made friends fast and kept going.
Once you were promoted to Leading Air Cadet, you warmed to it much more and really got into it, joining drill and practicing for the competition in Thunder Bay!
Your squadron placed 3rd overall with and without arms and took home the Golden Boot award for best dressed squadron!
Your science fair project came together splendidly, earning you a place in the regional science fair and earning you a runner up place there! You put tremendous work into the experiments and took great care with the measurements, crafting your display and making your own soap!!
Your performance at the festival this year was outstanding! You were much more confident and it came through in both pieces. You secretly practiced much more this year and it definitely shone through in the results. Two first place certificates!
Some biggest surprises though were still hidden until just recently with your Annual Ceremonial Review and Grade 8 graduation ceremony.
At your Review, your award for drill, and promotion, within the same year as LAC, to Corporal. Well done, I know Grandpa Leatherdale is smiling ;)
Next, although we knew you were helping with a speech, we had no idea what was in store for your graduation!
First off, not only did you graduate, you made the honour roll! Awesome!
Next, you so impressed your principal and teachers with all your hard work with Students Against Stigma and speaking at the Town Hall for your class's drain stencil project, you were awarded with the Principals Award for Leadership! Congratulations!
Finally, you co-wrote and co-delivered the salutatorian speech for your class. Very well spoken!
I can tell you in all my years, I'd never been happier or prouder since the day you were born!
Some might try to claim credit for all of this. No one can but you, Rya.
Although you were guided by many others, you did this all yourself, my girl, this is why I'm proud of you. That's why I'm so happy for you.
So much of this world is fake, plastic and opaque, with so many things pulling you this way and that. You choose to rise above all of that, to be an authentic individual and throw yourself into the unknown and help where you can.
You may not realize it, but to do that, to live to your own expectations, not others. To put yourself against the unknown, not because you have to, but because you want to, makes you unbelievably strong and courageous. Especially in the face of anxiety and fear. You stared it all down and met it with resolve and tenacity.
To defend and help others weaker than you takes much kindness and compassion. I've seen you put your trust into people, only to be hurt by them. Instead of giving up on everyone, like so many do, you treat everyone the same time and again, each person a clean slate. That takes depth of being and an understanding of people deeper than many adults I know.
Many are in it in this day and age for themselves. Yet you seek to help beyond just yourself and for the rarity of that in the world, it's something that truly sets you apart from many others.
You may not see these things in yourself yet, or you're shy and humble about it, or may not believe it; but it's all true and others see it in you too.
I love you sweetie and I'm very proud of everything you've accomplished and the directions you are undertaking :) YOU did it, never forget that :)
Congratulations Rya Dawn, on all your successes this year. I've got a feeling you're going to kick Grade 9's ass!