Last Blog of the Year/Graduation Message
For one last time this year, I wanted to extend my thanks and gratitude to you for a wonderful school year. Though not without its challenges, I am thrilled that our students’ school year was arguably one of the best yet (according to those who have been here a LOT longer than I have!). And, I’m even more excited that the year has ended on such a positive note for all parents, students, and faculty alike! With that, I hope you will go into the summer with enthusiasm for the year that just closed and for all that is still to come in 2017-18. I will check in with you again over the summer, but until then, I hope you have a wonderful, restful, and safe summer break – filled with fun, family, and even a little learning, in whatever capacity that may be!
One last thing – yesterday we celebrated the graduation of our 6th grade class – a class that was truly extraordinary in many ways. Though for many of you, graduation is several years away, I wanted you to have a chance to read the words I shared with this wonderful class, as we bid them farewell (see below).
Head of School Graduation Address
Sixth graders, I like to think of our school as a nest (I know that we have THE Nest, but no, I’m not talking about the babies in the ECC). Your teachers have been here for you in every way you’ve needed as you’ve grown up, here to give you a hug when you had a bad day, to help you learn from choices you made what weren’t the best (although you didn’t have many of those). And as you’ve grown up, your teachers have slowly scaled back their support and protection, so that by the time you have reached today, you are ready for the first step you’re going to take on a middle school campus as a 7th grader. I have confidence in you. You’ve got this. And I have some advice to continue to help guide you, so please, please remember what I’m about to say.
You all have a very strong sense of right and wrong. Some people call it a moral compass. Please, always listen to your moral compass, even if it doesn’t seem like the popular thing to do. You have to trust yourself— if you are uncomfortable about something that’s happening, whether it be choices being made by people around you, or words that someone is saying that leaves you with an uneasy feeling in your stomach… or something that should be happening that isn’t— if someone isn’t being included, if no one is saying thank you, if no one is helping someone who is struggling… BE THE PERSON who steps in to help. Be the person who stands up for others. Because you know what’s right.
I want you to take a moment and reflect on the humongous gift your parents have given you by providing you with this education. You do know that there are schools out there in this world that are free! But your parents wanted a particular type of childhood for you. I’m going to describe some of this to you because, if you have been here your whole life, you might not realize how truly special this place is in comparison to some other schools in the world.
Your parents wanted you in a place where you wouldn’t be just a name on a roll sheet, but where you would be known. Where teachers had small enough classes that they were able to give you any help you ever needed— even if that meant that they were writing back to your emails at 9PM so that you wouldn’t stress out about the test the next day. Your parents wanted a community for you that was steeped in Judaism. Where you would learn about your heritage in a way that would allow you to truly understand what it means to live a meaningful, Jewish life. Your parents didn’t just want a school for you, they wanted you to feel like you were being raised in a village by a community that looks out for each other, and that’s not easy to find in a place as big as Los Angeles. Your parents sacrificed to make sure that you were able to have this, and you should thank them. Not just today— today is an obvious day to thank them— but every time, in the future, you find yourself thinking of a lesson you learned here, thank your parents. Every time you think about this community as an example of what community can be, thank your parents. Every time that you hear that moral compass pointing you in the right direction, thank. your. parents.
Just because you have graduated, does not mean that this connection is over. You want to make any of your teachers really happy? E-mail them with a question from a 7th grade math class, for help studying for an 11th grade US History test, or to ask one of them to edit your college application essay. They will be honored that you thought of them, and thrilled to hear from you. Stay connected with the synagogue for our B’nai Mitzvah and teen programs. Come by and visit when you’re in the neighborhood because you’re home visiting from college.
Know that we are here for you forever. We’re proud of you always. And we miss you. Already.