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Dear Aaron,

After the end of a long summer holiday you are going back to school. It was so good having you at home during the break, seeing you grow, enjoy yourself and learn new things. Now as you return to school, I am writing this note to tell you about how much we care for you and how we long to see you grow into a disciplined young man who will stand up for what is right and be known for the values he holds.

I would like to encourage you to do your best in class and come out wiser at the end of the year. Here are a few tips to help you through the year.

1. Be yourself.

We live in a world where everyone wants to be somebody. We are constantly bombarded by news about film stars, sportsmen and larger-than-life personalities. If you want to be like them, who will be like you? Unique, in a mould of your own. Chart out your own course and work towards it. It is not the watch you wear or the computer you use or even the car you have that will set you apart. It is who you are that will ultimately make the difference.

2. Be humble, disciplined and responsible.

Use your time well so that you do not have to scramble before an exam. Be disciplined in all that you do, including your eating habits. Avoid food that will make you lethargic and dull, and take time out to play everyday.

3. Do your best but don’t be afraid to fail.

You go to school primarily to study. Do this well. Listen attentively to what is being taught in class. Study hard to do your best. We know you have enough to study, so we will not put additional pressure on you. We also know that there may be times when you won’t do as well as you ought to. Never mind. You can always do well the next time. Don’t be afraid to fail if you are willing to learn something from it. It will humble you and make you try harder the next time round.

4. Help others in need.

There may be times when your friends or teachers need help. Don’t hesitate to lend a helping hand. Have a heart that cares for others, that feels for those in need. Love and honour God wherever you go because he takes care of you.

5. Share with your parents whatever happens in school, on the bus back home and during your play time.

We would love to know more about your friends, your thoughts and your teachers. After a long day at work, the greatest joy that I get is to sit with you and talk for a few moments every day.

6. Speak the truth in love always and stand up for what is right.

In school and in class, you may come across situations where it may be easier to get away by telling lies. Don’t do it. It is better to speak the truth and have a clear conscience than lie and escape. This is not an easy task, but you will find that it will stand you in good stead when you grow up.

7. Respect your teachers, classmates and parents.

Remember your teachers come to school so that they can share their life lessons with you. Respect them for it and learn from them. Be an example to those around you.

8. Keep a guard over your tongue.

It may not be cool to stay away from abusive language when those around you are using it, but it is wise to do so. Speak what is helpful for building others up. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

9. Study to learn and be enlightened.

Enjoy your education knowing that you can put it to good use. Money and fame may or may not come to you because of your education, but you can be sure that it will benefit you.

10. Help your parents at home.

Work as part of a team so that we can get things done faster. Polishing your own shoes and keeping your room tidy will help your parents focus on things that are more important.

And remember that whatever happens, whether in joy or sorrow, sickness or pain, your parents will always stand by you. We love you and want the best for you.

May God always be with you.

Your loving dada.

(Aaron Alex Abraham is a student of grade 7, Our Own High School, Dubai)