Oak Meadow Students Are Demonstrating Amazing Skills
8th Grade Graduation Comments 2022
It’s your big day, 8th graders, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you, and to share a few words with you before you become Official Graduates of Oak Meadow School.
Your middle school years have been eventful – not only for you and your families – but in the context of a global pandemic. I have been very proud of the way you have been so resilient during these years. You also have been good citizens of our school, and we will miss you! The high schools you will be attending are very fortunate to have you join their communities. You each will bring a unique perspective and make your own special contribution there, as you have here at Oak Meadow.
My first school where I was the Head of School was in Annapolis, Maryland. Mrs. Scheurle and I still keep in touch with many friends and former students from that school, and so we keep an eye on the news there. As you may know, the United States Naval Academy is in Annapolis. President Biden just gave the commencement address at the Naval Academy, and he said something very interesting that I would like to share with you.
He told those college graduates that young people need 3 specific leadership skills to change the world and make it a better place, and I was particularly interested because they are leadership skills and values that your teachers and all of us here have been thinking about a great deal and working to help instill in all of you.
Those 3 leadership traits are adaptability, inclusivity and respect. In many ways, these 3 traits are part of the cornerstone of Montessori education, and skills you have been learning and practicing for years now.
You certainly showed your adaptability over the last 3 years as we faced the pandemic. I am so proud of you and the way you adapted to the changes we had to make to keep each other safe and healthy. And you showed respect for each other and for your teachers, too, in the way you followed the health guidelines we put in place. And you showed leadership by setting a good example for the younger children at the school.
You persevered in your education by adapting to remote learning when necessary and then transitioning back to regular classroom learning. You respected each other in the choices each family made about what kind of learning was best for each student. And you found ways to make each other feel included in that process.
I am also proud of the way you have embraced our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion learning. Through your regular meetings, you have learned to foster inclusion awareness and community building, with special emphasis this year on thinking about the situation in Ukraine.
So the qualities that the President of the United States has called upon college graduates to express are qualities that I can proudly say, you, as moments-away-from-being middle school graduates, have been expressing so beautifully here at Oak Meadow School.
I think you are all pretty awesome! Moms, Dads, families, teachers, wouldn’t you all agree?
You are ready to be leaders in your new schools. By that I mean, you will, just by being yourselves and expressing the qualities you have learned here, be leaders by example. And that, to me, is the most powerful kind of leadership there is. It is greatly needed in our world.
Sometimes, all of us, no matter how old we are or how big and strong, can feel that we are just a small insignificant speck in the world and that what we do can’t make much of a difference. Or we look at the problems in the world or in our lives and think they are just too big and too hard to solve.
But it’s just like facing any problem. The most important part is being willing to try, and not let ourselves feel overwhelmed. We just start by taking those first steps – even if they seem like baby steps – in the right direction toward a positive outcome. Sometimes it helps not to count the steps or focus too much on how many steps it is going to take – but rather, to keep that positive goal always in the forefront of our thinking.
When you try to do your best every day and seek out ways to be kind to others, and compassionate and empathetic – when you respect yourself and others and strive to be inclusive and loving to everyone, without judging them or yourself – you will be a light to others. You will lead by your example. Please never ever doubt how powerful your goodness is and how much of a change that can make in the world.
Maria Montessori once said, “Joy, feeling one’s own value, being loved and appreciated by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul.”
As you graduate and move on from Oak Meadow, my wish for each one of you is to feel that joy,– to know that we have loved and appreciated you, and that each one of you is capable of doing wonderful and profound things in this world, just by being who you are.
Congratulations, Class of 2022!