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The Ability to Choose
How decisions change education
“Everything you are comes from your choices”
The transition from middle school to high school will be hard for any kid. Maturing from childhood to adulthood while this is happening can make it even worse. At Fenn though, kids can stay until the ninth grade, making them seniors when most kids their age would be freshmen. This is a situation exclusive to me and my classmates, just twenty kids who are probably the only ones in the world who are the oldest in the school at 14-15. This can make it hard to understand what is best for us because our situation is so rare. So, to make this senior year the best it can be, you will need some input from the students.
The most important thing that a school can give our group is the power to choose. To be able to choose what we want to do for sports or arts or anything else. We are now young adults, and with that new maturity, we feel like we need to take more control in our own lives. It can be just small stuff, like choosing what your interests are or what sport you want to do, but the small stuff matters. The choices you make show the world the individual you are. So, for the Fenn ninth grade experience, the ability to choose what your education will be can make the year pretty special.
At Fenn, we already have a lot of choice, our motto is literally “in your hands”, but if we have more exclusive choices for seniors, it can make the year that much better. This could range from senior only sports, where you could go off campus to do what you wanted, to choosing what you learn in your classes. Imagine being able to choose what parts of the world you want to study in Global, or what culture or history you want to learn about in Latin or Spanish. The ability to choose how you want your year to go could change what the senior class meant to the rest of the school.
For the ninth grade choice matters, no matter how big or small. In a time where a lot of things seem to be running along a track, the chance to take the turn we want can really make an impact on what we think of our experience. Choice matters, because with out the ability to choose, we lose control of our actions, and without control of our actions, we are barely human.
Power of Hard Times
How struggles help us grow
~Joseph B. Wirthin
Everyone has had to deal with struggles in their life. For me, dealing with setbacks has been hard, but I try to look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn. A time where my patience was put to the test was during the secondary school application process, last year. I tried my best, but didn’t end up getting in anywhere.
It’s been a long few weeks. I’ve seen my friends get accepted into the places they really wanted to go, and I’ve just been waiting with a glimmer of hope, while a heavy feeling of dread sinks lower in my stomach. I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat with my Dad, driving to Home Depot or to do some other errand. “So, um, about schools. How are you doing?” my dad says to me, “Fine, I’m just processing it” I respond back. “Okay, let me know if you need anything. I think the 9th grade could be pretty good for you, just an extra year.” I stay silent, thinking. Maybe this could be a good thing, maybe a chance to give more effort into what I really like to do. The road whizzes by as I stare out the window, music still playing in the background. I turn the thought over in my head some more. In that moment, I decide to make the best of what I have, an put in all I have into this next year. Maybe I could use what was at first glance, a set back, and make it an opportunity to better myself. If I let myself get all sad or disappointed, I wouldn’t have had such a good mood going into the year, and wouldn’t have had a good year because of it.
A set back isn’t always just that, it can be a million different things, like learning a valuable lesson, or changing your perspective on an issue. A set back can even be a good thing, preventing you from doing you’re not quite ready for or giving you a time to reflect and think about your next coarse of action more clearly, and receive a better result in the end because of it. Set backs help us grow into better people, more ready to face the world around us.
Next time you have to take a deep breath after having to start again, take it as a chance to learn something, maybe about yourself.
It seems like it’s that time again. The school year is picking up and we are weeks away from Halloween, which is followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even my birthday (October 15th) is stuck in with this rapid succession of holidays. Around this time I get to thinking about holiday spirit and what it really is.
For me, the holiday spirit can mean a lot of different things. It doesn’t necessarily relate to just Christmas or other December holidays. The normal definition for holiday spirit is just getting excited about the holidays. It can be putting up decorations or playing music pertaining to that holiday. However, it can also mean having an idea or value in your mind in the days and weeks leading up to that holiday. For example, in November, many people like to list things they’re thankful for, like family or friends. Also, showing excitement or enthusiasm isn’t the only way to be in the holiday spirit. I can just be a general happiness, like I some times get during the weeks leading up to Halloween. Just seeing decorations around stores and other places fills me with joy as I countdown the days to Halloween.
My experience with the holiday spirit has been strange for the past few years. As I mature more into adulthood, I start to lose more of my enthusiasm for big events, like birthdays or Christmas. This change in the way I act has had an effect on how I show my appreciation for holidays. The weeks leading up to Christmas, for example, don’t make me as excited as they used to, even though I still enjoy opening presents. I have lost a connection with how I view holidays and feel I need to form a different type of bond. The time where I can just sit and enjoy opening presents or running from house to house asking for candy is coming to a close, and a time to appreciate the holidays as something to calmly look forward to is approaching.
Power of Place
The importance of summer camp
“Camp is the solvent of morality. It neutralizes moral indignation, sponsors playfulness”
There is nothing that brings back a flood of memories quite like a place. Even just a glimpse of a place where you spent your time immediately brings you back, whether you’ve been away for days or decades.
However, when you’re there it feels like the least important part of that experience is the backdrop. The place that is most important for me is my summer camp. The moment where I realized how much it meant to me was at the very end. Closing counsel had come to an end and I had said my tear-filled goodbyes to the friends I had made over the summer.
We all shuffled on the gravel paths to the parking lot. I took my time leaving. At the top of the hill overlooking the camp I turned around. I gazed over the stage that I had gathered at for so many years. I saw the trees that I knew since I was 7, I remembered it all. The weight of leaving hit me hard. It would be a long ten months before I got to come back. I couldn’t stay for much longer, my mom was probably waiting for me. It felt unnatural leaving. I felt like I had weights tied to my feet as I lugged my body towards my car.
I realized camp will always be important to me, not just because of the fun I had there, but the memories associated with every aspect of it. Even if no one was there, I would still love being at there. It brings me back to time I often forget, with the busyness of school and everything else. Camp is a place that changes me into a me that can just relax. No matter what’s on my mind, I have a place I can always remember and look back on with joy.
The ability to invoke emotions and memories is what makes a place powerful.
Leadership and Friends
The values of the outdoors
“All good things are wild and free”
~Henry David Thoreau
The miles of wilderness are dead silent. Moonlit trees stood in quiet solitude, except for the bundle of cabins surrounding the baseball field at Camp Belknap. A group of fourteen to fifteen year olds on a ninth grade class trip talk in what only they could think is quietly. Without an adult in a five foot radius, they were free to do whatever they wanted. Unfortunately for me, I was put in charge of making sure that they all went to bed on time. My classmates and I are on our class trip to Camp Belknap. It’s the start of the year and we supposed to be on this trip to “reconnect as a grade”. We got to know each other better and learned new lessons we didn’t before. Something about the outdoors let us be free to express ourselves like we wanted. The change of scenery was an important part of what made the trip so special. The outdoors is different from anywhere else in the world because it lets people truly be themselves.
The Essence of Community
“Quality of life actually begins at home - it's in your street, around your community.”
A community can take many different shapes and sizes. It can be as small as a family to as big as a nation. However there are many elements that make a community different from anything else. The most important value of a community is the ability to trust everyone in that community.
An important community in my life is Fenn. Fenn is a place where I can feel welcomed and involved. Even though I don’t know everyone at Fenn, I still trust everyone here, and feel comfortable being around them. I know that my teachers are here to guide me to success and my friends are here to support me along the way. Communities allow you to feel happiness by being together with people you know and trust. However, something deeply tied to any community is the place where you gather.
Everyone has an important place in their lives and eventually you just want to preserve it. Whenever I come to Fenn I feel safe because I know the type of people the are here. Even if I stay late because of an extra long sports meet and it’s only me, I still feel at home because I know this place so well. The experiences I’ve had at Fenn have seeped into every table and chair. I go to the library and remember the few minutes everyday last year where people would gather while waiting for their ride. I go to Ward Hall and remember how I’ve slowly made my way to the back of the hall and now am sitting where I never thought I would. An important place is more than just the location for you to meet friends and talk, but the collection of some of your best memories.
The more you become attached to a place the more that place becomes a part of you. Your decisions can become impacted by the time you spent there and you become molded by that place. Overtime the place means more to you and the more you want to make sure it stays the way you remember it, and maybe even better. Without you noticing it, you start to do small stuff to make it better, like picking up trash or being more friendly. You feel obligated to take care of it, because it took such good care of you.
The value of stewardship is important, because it helps keep a place going. As long as a place inspires stewardship in its residents, it can keep going for generations. Fenn, for instance has been around for 90 years, if former Fenn students and faculty did not take care of this place, then it probably would not exist today.
But it does exist. Does it exist for you?