The principal’s speech to all truants

Dear nonattenders,
You are one of over 12,000 with repeated invalid school absence in Sweden. One of the truants, one of the candidates for the school’s award of bravery. I’m glad to pay attention to you today at the end of the school year. Pay attention to how you struggled during the year.

From the school’s management we want to give you this diploma “To you who fought the past year without visible results. To you who stood alone in school, in an overwhelming situation, and done as well as you could. To you who did not experience any other opportunity and therefore became a nonattender”.

The reason for your invalid absence is not important today. It’s only important when we’re going to work to find ways forward for you. Perhaps you are not entirely aware of the reason. But you have felt the anxiety in the evenings or known the stomach on everyday mornings. Known how it gets harder to breathe for each step you come closer to school. Or the migraine struck down already on the first lesson. You have tried to nerve yourself for what you know will happen. Harassment, or exclusion, or meaninglessness, or what is part of your normal school day.

Leave the diploma to you
Since I will not meet you here in the auditorium today I wonder if I may get past your home or if you prefer meeting in another place, the library or a cafe? Then I want to pass the diploma to you.

I also want to show that I see you. You are more than just a name of one of the school’s nonattenders. I have understood that truants are commonly accusing themselves of the situation. Think that you’re amiss, because you don’t get to school and stay there as the other students do. That accusation I want to lift off your shoulders, and say that I and my colleagues have failed to do what we should have done. We have failed to implement the changes you would have needed at school. And for you, maybe we would have had to ask for help from outside the school too.

I want to promise you a safe and meaningful school to come back to. Promise you to stop the bullies from harassing you, whatever it takes to make it real. Promise you to provide the adjustments you need in the surroundings or when it comes to speed of learning and level of difficulty.

When we have shaken hands, this school year is complete for your part. Do not care about opening the rating. Instead, hold the diploma high!

Then leave the school mentally. Do not think about it anymore. Or maybe you ought to be really mad or mourn. Be angry and sorry for all the good things at school you have not received. The comradeship among schoolmates, new knowledge, shared experiences and rewarding relationships with teachers.

To teachers who see and show that you care – thank you!
There is a teacher I want to thank, who managed to reach a truant like me. It is Ingemar Johansson. History teacher at De la Gardie School. Probably he has no idea what significance he had for me. I never told him. Even though I had high score on the exams, he showed that he saw me and my absenteeism. He showed that he cared for more than my achievements. He showed that he cared whether I was in class or not. Hopefully you will meet an Ingemar in the future, who can show by little means that he cares about you being in school!

The conspiracy about the importance of the rating for life satisfaction
Before I leave, I will disclose a secret that all school principals know, but cannot say. There are completely other things than the final grades in elementary school and high school that determine what life you can live. The straight roads, those with good grades, are perhaps the fastest, but there are always roads to where you want to reach. Don’t let one or more wretched school years stop you from reaching your dreams, whether it’s to be a technical physicist, a stylist, a horseman or a game designer.

With the wish for a good summer!
I wish you a benignant summer. Because the school is anchored in science, you’ll get an advice from scientific research. In order to have a salutary summer and be able to feel good you need:

  1. Something that brings joy
  2. Physical activity
  3. Be in touch with others
  4. A certain amount of effort

And you need all the parts every day.

The easiest variant: Look at cute cat photos on Instagram. Take a lap around the block. Write a chat message to anyone in the world you like. Solve a sudoku. Abracadabra. So you have scientifically created feel-goo-opportunities. Your feel-good-day variation lets you compose in a way that suits you. With all four ingredients.

Shrink the reality and dream unlimited
In conclusion, I give you a more personal advice. When life feels really hard, I usually shrink the perspective. This means that I focus on one day at a time. Focusing on creating a feel-good-day and thinks no further than so.

As I shrink the perspective of reality, I completely release and let the dreams sail to higher heights. To the heights that do not have to do with my reality. Where dreams can float freely and easily. Where ALL is possible for me. Because through those dreams, I am lifted up.

So dream! And finish the school year with the diploma in your hand and head high.

Have a good summer!

Kindly Vera (Principal for a day)


The facts and figures of more than 12,000 students with recurrent invalid school absence, I have taken from the report “School absence and the way back” published by The Swedish National Agency for Education




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