Every year for the past fifteen I have
spent the weekend before promotion thinking about what I might say to the
departing 8th grade class at Marston. I worry over every idea, and rewrite every
phrase because my head doesn’t always get right what my heart wants to
say. It’s no different for this
particular group of young people, the high school class of 2019.
It doesn’t surprise me, though, because the Marston family is like that… willing to share their lives with each other and be a community of people who learn from each other as they work through problems to find solutions, take on challenges - no matter how daunting, persevere when first attempts don’t work out, and care for each other even when it is the most difficult thing to do.
A few weeks ago 7th grader, Mikaili Thomas, was our Principal for the Day. One of the duties she was charged with that day was to come up with a new rule that would benefit everyone. She took the job very seriously, did some research, conferred with her vice principal for the day, and then determined that there would be two new rules. The first was that everyone would be required to deliver three compliments during each school day. The second was to have at least one conversation every day with someone you don’t know.
Easy-peazy, right? Well, as you may know already, the things that sound the easiest to do generally are not. To deliver a genuine compliment you have to actually notice something another person has done that is exceptional – so you have to purposely look for it. It’s not so much that there is a lack of great things going on; the hard part is setting aside your own agenda so that you can see the good things going on around you. As for the second rule, with about 850 people at Marston on any given day, it should be simple enough to approach someone that you don’t know for a casual conversation, but when you’re the principal people get suspicious of the reasons. Pretty much every time I said to a student, “You are just the person I wanted to talk to!” The response from anyone else listening was typically, “Uh, oh!” Once the ice was broken, though, the potential for relationship and connection was all the greater.
Yes, school is about getting an education, but wisdom for the journey is the prize for practicing Mikaili’s new rules.
These are the reasons I love Marston Middle School. No one is expected to be perfect. There is plenty of room for personality, uniqueness, creativity, and fun while still maintaining the expectation that together we can master the disciplines of science, history, language arts, and math.
Each one of you have your own story to tell of anticipation sprinkled with fear of the unknown when you first arrived at middle school, and how in classic mariner fashion you have steered a course through both calm and choppy seas, changing in three years’ time into young adults ready for the next set of challenges.
This morning we made the ceremonial walk from middle school to high school, and in the fall you will have a new school home for the next four years – but you will always be Marston Mariners: adventurers and explorers who navigate through life knowing there will be challenges and successes, problems to be solved and celebrations in accomplishments, all with the knowledge and wisdom that a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
You have walked across this stage, heard your name called, and have been recognized as a young person ready for high school. In just a few minutes you will have a certificate in your hand – a symbol of this accomplishment. It starts you on another journey, one that will bring you back to this field, or one like it, four years from now for your graduation from high school.
It may seem like four years are a very long time, but I can tell you that it will fly by faster than you think possible. Thirty-eight years ago I couldn’t imagine what today would feel like, but just like you, I am excited and eager, but also just a little bit anxious about what the future holds as I start a different chapter of my life, too.
4:30 PM - 7:30 PM Marston New Parent Meet & Greet
8:50 AM - 3:35 PM First Day of School
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Clairemont Community of Schools