Here is my final message to the 8th Grade Class during their Middle School Closing. The focus of the piece was "A Few Reasons Why I am Proud of You."
As we are about to depart, let’s pause to take a deep breath and soak in this moment. For some of you, you’ve only been here for six months, most of you three years and a bunch in between. No matter how long you’ve been here, take this time to reflect on your journey.
I should confess, you were guinea pigs in an unofficial social experiment I conducted. As a class, you seemed way more into cell phones and snap chat than others in the past and because of that, I decided to download the app to see what all the buzz was about. I wanted to understand the craze behind it, to know why you all were on it and I came up with two conclusions.
- I don’t know what the appeal is after the first ten minutes of playing around with the photo filter options.
- Telling many of you that I had a snap chat increased my “street cred” and I became somewhat cooler in your eyes. I will be deleting the app as soon as we are done here so my inflated credibility will now go back to its normal level.
But each class of students takes on a different personality than all others. Last year was the dab… I thought the “James Harden stirring the pot” was going to take off with you but I only saw that once. What seemed to have more sticking power and the fad you would be remembered for, along with snap chat, is the fidget spinner. Since my street cred is at an all-time high, I should give you some really great advice that you would want to listen to. Two weeks ago I asked my 7-year-old son Miles why he didn’t use any of the four spinners he had and he told me and I quote, “Dad, those have been out of style since last week.” If you don’t listen to me, maybe you’ll listen to Miles.
Although fidget spinners were just a recent glimpse of our time together, I still remember other great moments with you. Such as your first day of 6th grade. I remember greeting many of you at the front of the middle school building as you got your name tags and proceeded to the gym for opening convocation. You were so enthusiastic especially as you exited the gym and was greeted by our senior class. That level of enthusiasm remained with many of you since then. You always greeted me, your teachers, other students, and campus visitors with friendliness and enthusiasm. THAT is why I am proud of you.
I saw tremendous strength in all of you who were here when tragedy struck your classmate. I saw firsthand how compassion and grief turned into remembrance and honor. I saw friends comforting and supporting others. I have never seen a class form such close bonds as a grade and you all really, truly care about one another AND you never let the memory of Oliver fade. THAT is why I am proud of you.
You were a part of the first trip to Camp Sparta. I saw friendships form, students persevere through challenges, and students push themselves to accomplish tasks…. Not to mention the fun of blobbing into the lake. The one highlight for me, the moment that stuck out the most, occurred during the camp fire. I was sitting among the students and one of you noticed a new student standing off to the side. Rather than let that person be alone, you invited them to join you and your group of friends. You didn’t have to… but you did and THAT is why I am proud of you.
One day, early this spring, I participated in “Shadow a Student” day. It was an opportunity to get a sense of the “student experience.” It gave me great perspective of Palmer Trinity through the eyes of an 8th grader. Whatever my tour did, I did and I even gave the disclaimer that if they normally broke some rules, then I didn’t want my presence to deter him. While I appreciate my tour’s willingness to put up with me for the day, and only one rule was broken, it was a great opportunity to spend time with the students. I saw intellectual curiosity, collaboration and profound responses to teacher questions that I don’t typically don’t see. THAT is why I am proud of you.
You have a lot to be proud of. The list can go on and on and these are just a few instances that stood out to me over the last three years. I AM really proud of each of you.
It is now time to send you on your way. You are prepared, you are ready and your next stop along your journey awaits.
As my favorite author, Dr. Seuss, would say: "DON’T CRY BECAUSE IT’S OVER. SMILE BECAUSE IT HAPPENED."