Annually, I visit with 8th graders prior to the end of the school year to learn about their time here, understand what they are looking forward to in high school, and receive some advice on how to continue to advance the mission of BCD. I love the conversations, especially because the students have a chance to reflect on the totality of their BCD education, the memorable experiences they had, and the special moments in their schooling that impacted who they are today.
I have to tell you I am already inspired by what I am learning. Middle schoolers are often described as beings who are living completely in the “now.” We sometimes think they are so self absorbed that they are incapable of reflecting on the past or looking towards the future. We also make the mistake in assuming that their close social network dominates their lives to the point where they cannot see beyond what’s right in front of them.
Not this group. The conversations I am having suggest our 8th graders are wise beyond their years. They are eager to reflect on everything from the lessons they learned from their 2nd grade teachers (Mrs. Zuetell and Mrs. Paradise) to the impact of COVID on their social and emotional state. I’m finding our 8th graders thinking clearly about their futures, excited for expanded opportunities in high school, and the potential for a broader friend base, and nervous about finding their way to class the first week of school.
When I ask them about how they’d like to stay connected to BCD, the number one answer is through alumni representation. They want to be the students to share their high school experiences with the next generation of BCD middle schoolers, they are eager to attend performances and games, and they yearn to stay connected with the place that many call their second home.
One question I look forward to the most is, “Which characteristic in our Portrait of A Graduate
best describes you.” The students don’t give one answer more than others, but their responses share insights on the impact BCD has had on them.
Confident - My teachers know me. They give me the confidence to take risks and push through.
Well-rounded - I was a good student in some classes when I started middle school. Now I feel like I am a stronger student in ALL classes.
Resourceful - Last year (during COVID) was a hard year for me. I pulled myself together and know now how to make use of what I have and what’s available to me.
Good Citizen - I learned to be a good community member here. My teachers aren’t just teaching Latin or math. They are helping me be a good person.
Empowered - BCD motivated me in a special way. I know now I am in control of who I am and what I want to be.
Kind - BCD teaches kindness and respect every day. I’m better as a person because I came here.
Engaged - Our teachers are awesome. They know us. They know how we learn and how our brains work. I’m a better, more engaged student because of them.
The visits with our graduates also remind me of the impact they’ve had on BCD. In this year’s class, we have leaders, athletes, community servants, academics, and artists. Some, through their Capstone Project, already have an idea of what they want to do with their lives. Others are eager to find out. All have helped make BCD what it is today, leaving a small part of them in all of us and adding new layers to our community.
In ancient Greece, citizens of Athens took an oath (also called the Ephebic Oath) which compelled them to contribute to society. The final few lines go something like:
“We will strive unceasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty. Thus in all ways we will transmit this city not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”
The Class of 2022 has achieved this goal. Our school and its community is, indeed, more greater and more beautiful because of them, their work, and their sense of Bulldog Pride. It’s been my honor and privilege to be their Head of School, and I can’t wait to learn how they will change the world.