WINDSOR, ONT. -- Local senior citizens are offering their wisdom and life advice to high school seniors as they move into the next chapter.

As many high school graduates have missed out on major milestones like prom and graduation due to COVID-19, the residents of Chartwell Oak Park LaSalle Retirement Residence are offering up some perspective.

“This is a student's moment to shine, to show off all their hard work to their parents,” 80-year-old resident Joseph Tomc and winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for teaching excellence said in a Chartwell news release. He taught for 28 years, most of it at Sandwich Secondary School.

“It's disappointing to hear that this year's graduating class will miss out on all these important milestones.”

The inspiration for seniors-to-seniors advice came from Sylvia Flanagan, Retirement Living Consultant at the residence, with a 17-year-old daughter in grade 12 at St. Joseph's Catholic High School.

“It was a real sad time to realize I won’t see her cross the stage and be recognized as an honours student,” Flanagan said. “She’s worked so hard. So my goal was how can I make it memorable for her, how can I keep this graduation alive.”

Some of the advice residents have offered her and fellow members of the Class of 2020 include:

  • “Always remember, ‘Sky is not that high,’” said University of Windsor Professor Emeritus Krishan Dugall, 91, who taught in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “Be bold to be your best.”
  • Lorena Pickle, who is 102 said, “Congratulations on getting through the easiest part of life.”
  • Ray Millette, 87, offered up some financial advice saying, “for the love of all things holy, DO NOT GET A CREDIT CARD!” Pat Cane, also 87, reminds graduates to “always ask yourself, ‘Would I do this if Mom was watching?’”
  • “It used to be, go to school or travel the world. At the moment the world is a mess!” said Joyce Berks, 96. “So study hard and get ready for the new world. You will make a difference!”

The advice from the seniors at Chartwell will be shared among the students and staff within the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.