The eighth graders who graduated from Partnership Schools in the last few weeks had their entire middle school experience impacted by the pandemic. In the midst of such a generation-defining moment, we found ourselves struck by the resilience and insights graduates shared, particularly about what their experiences have taught them to value.
In valedictorian and salutatorian speeches as well as class-wide remarks, students mentioned several themes often—and their thoughts on those themes give us reason for hope, not just for their future but for the generation they represent:
Whether students had attended their Partnership School for 11 years or transferred in, many expressed a sense that they can move forward because of a strong sense of rootedness in their school community.
Laila, Archbishop Lyke
I will leave Archbishop Lyke School knowing I attended a great Catholic school that helped me and taught me to be a better person. For that, I am very thankful.
Laila will be attending Trinity High School in the fall.
August, St. Mark the Evangelist
I came to Saint Mark the Evangelist School in fifth grade. This was a new environment for me and I had never been to a Catholic school. Like any new kid I was nervous to come to a new school…After a few minutes my new classmates started to speak to me and treated me with kindness.
Through my years at this school I have found some great friends. This school has made me feel safe and important. I’ll miss the small school environment where everyone knows one another.
August will be attending Cardinal Spellman High School in the fall.
While most graduation speeches include a few thank-yous, we were struck by these two heart-felt shout-outs:
Makai, St. Charles Borromeo
As an individual I have grown, but as a class we have grown together, because during our elementary years, some of our classmates had our teachers wishing for a new job. And since we’re on this topic, I’d like to give a special thanks to our elementary school teachers, because they endured multiple years of having to deal with us. Thank you Mrs. Banks, Ms. Selby, and Ms. Jackson for never giving up on us, even though we were a hot mess.
Makai will attend Avenues: The World School in the fall.
Julian, Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary
By February 2021, I had lost almost all my passion for school, and neither my mom nor I wanted that for me, so we looked into MCHR. I transferred there the next week and it got me back into the swing of things. I started going back in person, made new friends, and even consistently saw 100’s on my report cards. This was due to the loving community at this school.
I’d like to thank my classmates for welcoming me with open arms when I first came here. They’re the people that really make this school feel like another home.
Julian will attend Regis High School in the fall.
It’s hard to imagine a 14-year-old singing the praises of consistency before the pandemic, but that’s exactly what Julio spoke about in his valedictory address to the Immaculate Conception Class of 2022:
Consistency is something that I view as an essential pillar to greatness. That’s not to say we should not be ready to change when necessary but rather, to commit ourselves to what is important in our lives.
It has also been a thread that has connected our shared ICS experience. We have been consistently pushed. Consistently challenged. Consistently adapting. Consistency is something that, especially over the last few years, has been uprooted and, quite frankly, not very consistent at all. Yet, there was one thing we could always count on: Immaculate Conception.
We knew we’d always be welcomed and safe. We knew we’d always have a surprise ELA “Do Now” quiz, or that Julian would let out an exasperated “AWWWWWW” in class. Lucenny and Sharif would always be engaged in a fierce debate, Mr. Zinzi would probably be saying “Treat it like a variable.” and Mr. B would be reminding us to “Draw a line!” so we wouldn’t lose the place in our book (usually at a spot we did not want to stop reading!)
Counting on consistency has helped us through some major struggles along the way.
Julio will be attending Regis High School in the fall.
Of all the Partnership core values—integrity, humility, hard work, and service—students tended to reflect on the impact of their own hard work the most. But many also reflected on service and reminded us how carefully kids watch the examples set by others.
Briana, St. Athanasius
My grandpa is always busy. He has many responsibilities and works hard every day of his life. But he would still help you, no matter what kind of day he had. He told me to be humble and serve others because that’s our job…he said, service is another word for love.
Sometimes, service includes a lot of sweat and tears. When you’re humble, you’re eager to help someone. And when you are honest, you can reach someone’s heart and help them emotionally. Service is the one core value that includes them all.
Briana will be attending Preston High School in the fall.
Kamila, St. Athanasius
This one teacher in 6th grade helped me through all the work I missed during the pandemic. He gave me so much motivation to finish the handful of work I had missed during the pandemic. The surprising thing is that I am almost positive he has done this with every student who was failing in the class. At the beginning of the school year, I thought he was one of the strict teachers, but after this one act of kindness, my perspective changed completely. One or more acts of kindness can change someone’s view of you in seconds.
Finally, several students shared their thoughts on the high school experiences ahead. We admire the candor of these remarks from Jessica at Our Lady Queen of Angels:
While I am excited to create new bonds with others, I am also very scared, because the relationships I have built with my peers will always hold a special place in my heart and are irreplaceable. I am also scared because throughout all these years, from Kindergarten to eighth grade, OLQA has become a second home to me, and leaving a familiar place like this and having to adjust to something else is frightening. So even though we are all leaving and eagerly looking for new paths to take and marks to make, we should always remember where we are from, because for me, this school will always be my second home.
Jessica will be attending Marymount School in the fall.