Roycemore was lucky to have two very bright and articulate students speak at the Middle School Graduation last week. With poise and humor, they made us laugh and cry while they reflected on their time here at Roycemore and what it is like to be a Middle School Griffin. Please enjoy these excerpts from their speeches…
“Even though this isn’t your typical ceremony, I’m glad that we’re able to celebrate together. I’m a lifer at Roycemore. I started Roycemore officially in PreKindergarten when I was three years old, but I was a Roycemore Griffin even before that because my mom taught at Roycemore while she was pregnant with me, so I guess I’m a little more than a lifer.
I’ve always dreaded the day that I would have to leave. It has become much harder to accept that my days at Roycemore are over – especially now that , we can’t see each other in person, but, I know that with the great bond that our class has, we will stay connected.
Our class was the only fifth-grade to go on a major trip to space camp; we survived a million mosquitos on our crazy overnight at the Indiana Dunes; we were the first seventh-grade class to travel to Washington, DC, and here we are graduating on Zoom during a pandemic. Our class has had a lot of firsts, but being the first class to miss Palio, the Spring Show, The Eighth-Grade Dance, The New York Trip, and our normal Graduation was not the kind of first we expected.
Ever since 5th grade, I’ve looked forward to becoming a house captain, which I now am. If you don’t know what house is, it’s very similar to the houses in the Harry Potter books. In fifth grade at Roycemore, you are placed into one of four houses and you stay in that same house until you graduate from middle school. I am part of the Grand. Griffin. house and part of being a member is being a good mentor to your new house members, especially making the 5th graders feel welcomed. You don’t choose your house or your housemates. Eighth graders sometimes get annoyed by the younger students, but in order for your house to succeed, every member has to work together. This relates to most things in life beyond middle school. Even when we have problems, we learn how to work them out, and solve them together.
Something unique about Roycemore is our traditions which bring us all together. I don’t think there’s any other school where all of the grades combine to build a community like ours. Leaving Roycemore, we will be leaving behind so many unforgettable traditions like Carnival, Wassil, Palio, and our house competitions. The closer we come to leaving Roycemore, the more I realize there’s nothing like it. Our class is an amazing team and individually we each contribute in our own unique way, starting with my lifer buddy Youngnim….. Youngnim and I started Roycemore together in Pre-K. we moved into the new building together in Kindergarten. Youngnim is super smart and talented. She’s always watching Korean dramas or teaching us new K-pop dances. Recently we have become closer and I can’t imagine our class without Youngnim.
Madeleine and Maya started at Roycemore in first grade. We had Mrs. Sheean who taught us how to read, write, and compost with red worms. Madeleine has become a great and always honest friend. If Madeleine disagrees with you, she’ll tell you right away, I think it’s valuable in life to have someone who lets you know exactly where you stand. Maya. When you first meet Maya, you may find her calm and collected personality to be intimidating but once you get to know her, she’s the goofiest and loudest person you’ll know. She’s multi-talented yet humble about it, which makes her a really fun person to be around.
Third grade was the first year you could go in the “haunted house” at Carnival, we presented our own wax museum, and this was our first year being the older reading buddies. It was also the year that Jahnavi joined our class. Jahnavi is very creative and such an important addition to our class. I’m so glad we got to go through middle school, and graduate together.
5th grade is the start of middle school at Roycemore. This is when
- we got our own lockers,
- were “sorted” into our house groups, and
- moved from the bottom floor to the top
We also went on our very first overnight trip to Camp Henry Horner and traveled as a class to Huntsville, Alabama to go to Space Camp for 3 days! Haido joined our class in 5th grade. Haido is very quick-witted and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. (I don’t know how our class could function without her, whenever tension escalates, she knows how to break the tension using humor or distraction.) In seventh grade, we became the older students of middle school, we started to practice basketball with the high schoolers, and went on our 7/8 grade class trip to Washington D.C. This is also the year that Shiza and Xavier joined our class. Shiza has only been in our class for two years, but it feels like we’ve always known her. When she shadowed in sixth grade, I knew she would make a great fit for our class and she filled a gap perfectly. Shiza understands our class humor and how we work with each other. She knows what to say, whether it’s the right answer in class, advice for a friend, or just a lunchtime joke. Xavier joined our class later in 7th grade. He was the only boy in our grade, and I’m glad that our class of all girls didn’t scare him away. Xavier is kind and smart and knows A LOT about history, and we really appreciate that he brought the Nagasaki mural project to Roycemore while also bringing our community together.
8th grade— the year I’ve always looked forward to — finally getting those eighth-grade privileges —
- becoming a house captain,
- getting to go out after school
- no more homework club
- going out for eighth-grade lunches
- choosing our middle school social outings, and
- planning the middle school dance
While this year hasn’t been what we expected, I’m grateful that we still got to do most of these anticipated things, even if we missed a few, we still made so many amazing 8th grade memories like; going back to Camp Henry Horner and decorating our houses’ new shields –which will last long after we graduate.
Eighth grade brought us Alex, Allie, Faelyn, James, and Rachel, and I’m so glad they came. Each of them contributed something that we were missing in our class. Alex is so smart and supportive of all of us. Anytime you have a question or forget your homework at school Alex is always there and happy to help. Faelyn is quiet when you first meet her, but once you’re friends, you see how smart and funny she really is. Faelyn gets along with everyone and is a very loyal friend. Rachel contributes not only to our class, but to our entire school community on so many levels. This year Rachel formed the Gay/Straight Alliance club which she saw as a need in our school. Rachel has so many great ideas, and I’m sure she’ll pursue them in Roycemore’s high school. James is so brave. This year James moved from Vietnam to Roycemore halfway through the school year. From the first week he joined, James was participating in class just like he had been with us for years. He’s so smart, and I wish I had the time to get to know him better. Last but not least, Allie. Allie is also very new to Roycemore, having only joined us in February. Allie is kind and quiet but she is strong in her opinions both in and out of class. I really wish we had had more time together with Allie.
I appreciate the role that each and every one of you plays in our school, and (even if we don’t always agree or get along), we wouldn’t have our Roycemore traditions without community, and our community wouldn’t be ours without each of you. Graduating and preparing for today has shown me how much I cherish and will miss our school’s special traditions. Even during a pandemic, we’ve kept our traditions and found a way for us to be here together for graduation. I’m so grateful for all our wonderful teachers. They’ve all made such a great impact on us. I’d also like to thank my family for supporting me through middle school whether it’s helping me with my math homework or practicing for a basketball game on the weekends, you’ve always been there. I know I speak for all of my classmates when I say thank you to our families.
Thank you to everyone here today. Without you we wouldn’t be able to carry on this great Roycemore tradition. Congratulations to my eighth-grade class! We did it!”
“Good afternoon teachers, friends, family, and my fellow 8th-grade graduates of 2020. Before I begin, I would like to thank my classmates who chose me to speak on behalf of them today. Thank you Ms. Wilson and Ms. Milner, who helped me prepare for today. A special thanks goes to all our teachers and administrators who have assisted us through these years at Roycemore no matter what…even if we did have a big case of “8th grade-itis”. Thank you to my loving family because I truly wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for your unconditional love and support. Lastly, I’m especially thankful to my classmates who have made these past 4 years the most rewarding years of my life.
I am so grateful that I got to spend my final year at Roycemore surrounded by so many cordial people. Some of us are new to the community, some of us have been here our whole lives but there are some common things that unite and hold us together. I admire each and every 8th grade student here today. When there are only 13 people in a class, you learn to survive while navigating conflicts. We make a class of 13 work and not many people can do that. Learning suddenly became harder over the past two months. I remember we were discussing how our friends from other schools had long breaks because of coronavirus, and we were all jealous. We were feeling ready for high school, and we thought we needed a rest before we finished up middle school.
It was after school on Thursday, March 12 when we got an email that school was canceled through April 12, and we were really excited… but after a week of being home—people were over it. I knew I was really over isolation because one night there was nothing left to do so I chopped off 6 inches of my hair. I’m used to coming to school early and seeing a bunch of little fifth graders on their new chromebooks playing some game together. Madeleine and I don’t even have to say hello in the morning and she knows to move over to make space for me in a small blue chair. We watch Tik Toks and funny videos and if we find something funny we swap phones and laugh until we literally fall on the ground. You can’t do that over Zoom. Now I wake up and I don’t even have to get dressed; I talk to my ceiling fan instead of talking to Madeleine.
I understand that people are struggling with greater hardships than I am during this world-wide crisis. I do have to admit that not seeing my friends and teachers and those wonderful people that make up Roycemore’s community is the hardest thing for me right now. As Andy Bernard says in the office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in “the good old days”, before you’ve actually left them.” Middle school hasn’t always been easy for me, but I never realized how much I would miss it. A mentor is defined as “an experienced and trusted advisor.” The teachers at Roycemore aren’t just faculty. They are mentors who I deeply appreciate, and they aren’t even the only adults who guide us.
Mr. Ziggy is in charge of buildings and grounds, Erin is the first person we see when we walk through the door and Ms. Charlene is the person who greets me warmly each day in the lunch line. Ziggy’s smiles, Erin’s laugh, and Ms. Charlene’s daily dose of encouragement are all a part of what makes Roycemore so special. Mrs. Orzoff has been there for me since I first started at Roycemore. She told me stories about her life while I was sick in her office and always had comforting hugs when I was confused in math. Words can’t describe how much you mean to me, Mrs. Orzoff. If I started talking about how much I love Ms. Greene, I would probably start crying and you guys wouldn’t be able to hear the rest of this speech. Ms. Wunder, you have been an amazing advisor and you just get me. You understand some things about me that I don’t even understand. Thank you.
The point here,,, is that we all have experienced these small and large moments of grace from so many members of our Roycemore community. Losing these small moments with so many of you because of the quarantine and remote learning has taught me how much of a difference you’ve made in my life.
As much as I’ve looked forward to this day, it’s going to be hard to leave. No matter how much you try, you can’t stop things from ending; the last page of your favorite book, the last day of summer vacation, or the last day at Roycemore. Today, we say goodbye. We are saying goodbye to what’s comfortable and familiar. We are saying goodbye to our second family and our friends who have become our brothers and sisters. Just because we are leaving, doesn’t mean that we are gone. Roycemore will always be a part of all of us, and we will always be a part of Roycemore.
I want to remember everything about this place. How the gym smells after a volleyball practice and how Ms. Milner is my school-mom. How Mr. Stanley’s “stanley slap” can be heard from the upper school wing and how cold it was when we did turtle racing outside with Mr. Tain. The way Ms. Greene treats her calculators like gold, because she’s always losing them. Even if we are moving on, the Roycemore hallways will always feel like home. We might forget what our locker combination is, but we won’t forget how Roycemore taught us to advocate for ourselves and become more independent. We will also never forget how Roycemore made us feel. Roycemore made school fun and I was actually excited to go to school every morning.
So to my fellow classmates, take your memories and your accomplishments, and make the world a better place. Use your knowledge to reach your greatest potential. The world is a pretty overwhelming place, but once you zoom in, you can see that there is still a lot of good. There is work to be done and it won’t be easy, but I believe in you. Use your determination and tenacity to help those in need. As individuals, we have the power to effect change, but we have to look, and when we see injustice or discrimination, we have the power through our actions and voices to make a difference… to BE THE CHANGE IN THE WORLD. The world is lucky to have YOU in it. Thank you!”