We launched our 8th graders on Wednesday night. Any graduation tells a story about the core values of a school. Every aspect of this graduation was replete with Wornick messages. Our emphasis on students creating and collaborating – this graduation was their product – music selection, class video, memories shared and the look and feel of the program. We talk about honoring the past – our students honored the past as they received their diplomas from their former headmaster, Mr. Danker, listened to a d’var Torah by Rabbi Helfand, and told stories of past adventures at school. Israel education is in the school’s DNA – for most of the students, some aspect of their trip to Israel figured prominently in the memories they shared.
We teach students to honor and to respect all human beings. They shared their gratitude for their teachers, administrators, office staff, custodian, cook – no one was missed and the statements to each person were thoughtful. One of the most poignant, and unique, features of this particular graduation was the amount of tears shed by the students. One young man broke down in tears as he was thanking all the parents who transported them to games, drove them to and from their friends’ homes and chose this school for them. When one young lady sang a poignant solo to her classmates, half the class – boys and girls – shed tears. The tears represented the strength of the community and how safe these young people feel to share their emotions.
I described three vignettes from this class that exemplified ideas that the students will carry into the future. The first recalled a sixth grade Shabbat experience – the message from that experience was to remember to make it a priority to set aside time each week to just “be”.
The second story was about the 8th grade pranks from the past week. The pranks were clever . The first one included submitting silly answers to a take-home examination. The important point about this prank was that the students decided to hand the actual tests to another teacher who would vouch for the fact that they had indeed finished the examinations on time. The second prank was cordoning off the science lab claiming that there was a hazardous material concern. The lab was taped with caution tape and two students in full hazmat regalia guarded the door. The message here was remember to laugh and have fun while remaining responsible.
The final story is my favorite one. This year we buddied the 8th graders with elementary students for tefilot. Each Monday and Thursday, big 8th graders could be seen walking hand in hand down the hall with their little charges. When 8th graders were called to the Torah, they always brought their buddy along and always wrapped him/her in their tallitot. That picture tells the story that each of our students knows - it is the value of responsibility to others – that their purpose is to create a better place for those little people who looked up to them every day.
Have a wonderful, relaxing summer.