Since High Tech Middle is school where there is very little student turn over, it’s rare that students join the school in 8th grade. We were lucky enough to have a few students join our team and they quickly became part of our family. Since we looped up with our students that we taught in 7th grade, I thought that perhaps the students on our team would take more time to accept the three new students that join our already tight family of 53 students and two teachers. The day that each new student arrived the class cheered and welcomed them, as if returning home after a long trip abroad. It was magical!. I wanted to share one of those student’s graduation speech, because it was so telling about the reason culture in classrooms is so important.
“When I first came to this school It was in 8th grade. It was at a pretty hard time in my life, new school, new house, new city, new everything. But there was also new people! I had never met a group of people more welcoming and kind. It was astonishing how much they made me feel like I was one of them. Laughing when they laugh, clapping when they clap and even, the occasional inside joke. Sure, there were times when I felt secluded and alone, but the happy atmosphere quickly took care of that. Some people in particular made it difficult to feel out of place, and touched me personally, even if unintentional. Before I knew it I was experiencing new things that I never would have dreamed of if I hadn’t met all of you.The students. The teachers. Heck, even the projects! From the Elemental Superheroes, to the Hovercrafts, and even the Debate P.O.L., I enjoyed it all so much that a year has just gone flying by. It feels like just last week that i stepped inside and met all of you for the first time. And I know I’m not he most normal person on earth, but, even if i don’t show it, I do appreciate each and every one of you. So thank you.Thank you all.”
–Carroll Ishee 8th grade, HTM