Mr. King's Eighth Grade Recognition Remarks

Mr. King welcomes members of the Class of 2024 to Upper School.

Thank you, Ms. Jean, Mr. Walters, Mr. Boboth, and the other members of the 8th Grade Team. And thank you in particular to Mr. Ogden for your moving remarks. To the student speakers and performers who preceded me, thank you for being extraordinarily tough acts to follow.

Class of 2024, it is an honor to be here to close out the 8th grade recognition ceremony and officially welcome you to the Upper School. Yes, family members in the Zoom audience, some of you are about to have a high schooler for the first time. Let that soak in for a second.

Class of 2024, my colleagues and I are excited to welcome you to the Upper School. We are excited by the prospects of teaching you in a wide variety of classes and observing and supporting you, as you engage in many facets of Upper School life. The Upper School continues the work of the Middle School in providing rewarding academic courses which will afford you the opportunity to learn and grow as a student, thinker, writer, and communicator. With a few notable exceptions, you will have teachers who you have never had before, thus affording you an opportunity to forge productive working relationships with a host of new teachers and make new beginnings for yourselves. You will be joining the ranks and taking the lead on our JV and varsity sports teams, taking music classes that blend all Upper School grades, becoming the new stars of the Upper School Visual Arts program, joining the casts of Upper School theatre performances, having the chance to perform in the beloved and popular Coffeehouses, writing for The Dial, The Vision, or The Hilltop, becoming involved in a host of community service opportunities, joining our multicultural club UNITY, going on a Round Square or Casten trip, continuing to build our increasingly popular and accomplished Upper School debate program, or forming a club of your own. In short, opportunities abound in the Upper School and they are waiting to be seized. And if this unusual spring and uncertain times have taught us anything, these are times to engage and moments that call for resilience, resourcefulness and flexibility.

Arguably the most important opportunity that awaits you is the chance to solidify your current friendships and make new ones. As you sit here this morning, albeit over Zoom, and think back on your times together in the Middle School, you hopefully feel virtually surrounded by friends. On this topic of friendship, I want to issue a challenge to you this morning that I hope you will carry with you in orientation and the start of next year’s school year. As the students who are new to Upper School BUT NOT new to Hackley, it is your responsibility to embrace and welcome the students who are, if you will, brand-new to Hackley. Do what you can to make the newest of the new students feel welcome and help them quickly feel that your school is also their school.

At moving up ceremonies, speakers almost always feel the need to dispense advice. So at the risk of being a cliché, I have a few pointers for you as you begin Upper School. First, work hard. Live up to the school’s mission statement and offer up unreserved effort. Second, build relationships.

Remember our school’s mottoes that challenge us to “enter here to be and find a friend” and that “united, we help one another.” Consider my earlier challenge to reach out to and welcome the brand-new students as keeping up with these long-treasured Hackley values. Third, ask questions. Early and often, you will hear me and others say that asking for help is a sign of strength, not an admission of weakness. Fourth, get involved. Be a doer and a joiner, not merely a spectator or an observer. Finally, look for something about which you are or can be passionate. At Hackley, we aspire to be a community free of apathy so find something that excites and challenges you, whether it’s a particular subject, sport, activity or service opportunity and apply yourself with enthusiasm, commitment, and zest.

It is a pleasure to be here today to cheer you on. I look forward to working closely with you as you transition to Upper School and cheering you on in the years to come. And if you do get homesick for the Middle School, remember you can always reach out to your beloved Middle School teachers and pay a visit to the one and only Miss Marija.

Thank you. Congratulations to the Class of 2024 and welcome to the Upper School!