On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 22 eighth-graders graduated from Manhattan Country School. In a ceremony shared with faculty and staff and friends and family, the graduates offered the following thoughts about their time at MCS and whether they are ready to leave.
Tai (Groton School)
Salad Days (plural noun): a time of youthful inexperience or indiscretion.
That's how I would describe my first few years here at MCS. I was at the ripe age of 4 when I entered, incredibly susceptible to anything and everything.
It's been 10 long, looong years. I have been with the same people for 10 years. I went to the same building almost every single day for nine years.
I have written countless end-of-trimester reflections (which, by the way, I hate). I have sat through about 50 one-hour triplets. I have walked up and down 6,000 flights of stairs because we're still not allowed to use the elevators! And I have been told countless times to spit my gum out! I am done.
This is not to say that I'm ungrateful for what I have gotten from this school. My departure is bittersweet. I will miss the old and the new buildings. I will miss the activism. I will miss the wild snack times we had in triplet two. I will miss my teachers, no doubt! But most of all I'm gonna miss the friends I made here. As Gordie Lachance in Stand By Me so accurately states: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
Layla (Northfield Mount Hermon)
MCS has taught me everything, from the importance of social justice to milking a cow. This school gave me a community where I could feel loved and embraced while I grew and discovered my passions. Everywhere I go in life, I will take the values of MCS with me and there will always be a special place in my heart for this wonderful school. I am lucky to say that after 10 years of laughing, playing and learning at MCS, I am ready to graduate.
Aiyana (The Harbor School)
I feel so lucky and grateful that this is the school that introduced me to the world because here I have learned the importance of cooperation and having a critical eye towards the world around me. Many schools across the world use the term progressive to define themselves but only a few have actually earned that title, one of them is MCS. I am ready to graduate because of the skills the school has helped me develop, like my ability to stand my ground and debate. I'm excited to meet new people and leave a mark on this world.
Aaron (High School of American Studies at Lehman College)
MCS has helped me learn that meaningful action is action that addresses the root cause of an issue, and true commitments are more than simple charity. MCS is a community that genuinely cares about social justice and activism. In its genuine valuing of diversity, MCS teaches us to engage with instead of avoid real conversations about difference and inequality.
Brandon (Oakwood Friends)
The farm has taught me how to really appreciate the world I'm living in and to take care of it. I've also grown academically. I can make parabolas and graphs, and figure out a lot of math problems. I can write a lot more and have a broader vocabulary. I am ready to graduate because the community has supported me and helped me to be me. I've learned to speak up for myself and fight for issues that I care about. I've learned to educate people on issues that matter to me.
Monte (Brooklyn Technical High School)
I believe I am ready to graduate from MCS because I have learned about and understood the main principles of our school. I know how to engage in activism and take part in positive change for issues I care about. I have learned how to think critically and see all perspectives on an event. And in my three years here, I have become part of the extremely tight-knit and accepting community, which I believe is the most important and most powerful part of MCS.
Malia (Elisabeth Irwin High School)
Although I've only been alive for 14 years, the nine years I've spent at MCS have been some of my best so far. I am ready to graduate because everything has to end at some point. MCS was my first real school and I know I will never find another place like it again. It was a privilege to be taught by all my amazing teachers and surrounded by a school community of amazing and loving people. I am proud of the person I've become here. Last year, hearing the graduation speech made me sad. My own graduation felt so far away, and I wasn't ready. Now, I am ready.
Malik (The Beacon School)
I've been at MCS since before I was even enrolled, from coming with my parents to drop off and pick up my brother. I'm ready to graduate from MCS because I've been brought up by my teachers and my parents to handle situations (like starting a new school) that I normally wouldn't be comfortable with. One of the many things that I've learned over the years at MCS is to always look at a situation from a multiple-story perspective. No matter if you agree with it or not, always look into every side of the story to be able to fairly judge for yourself who is right and who is wrong. MCS will be my home away from home forever.
Jessica (Millbrook School)
I started off being very quiet and shy, and through the activism opportunities, assemblies, supportive teachers, crazy friends, Student Council, La Tienda, the third, sixth, and eighth grade plays, and so many other moments and events, I have found my voice. I became a best friend, a nature lover, a hat obsseser, a person who loves adventure, an activist, a fighter, an artist, a writer and so much more. I learned how to be responsible and resourceful at the farm and how to express myself through both art and literature. I learned the untold truths and mysteries that history holds. Ten long years have given me the time to create a lot of friendships that I know won't end, so when someone asks me if I am ready or should graduate my answer is, "Yes."
Izzy (The Mount School, UK)
I am ready to graduate MCS because I have worked so hard through my many years at MCS. I have shown dedication through all the projects and work. I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned how to be strong in difficult situations and to always believe in myself. I have also learned how to push myself and to work hard.
Sherman (Eugenio Maria de Hostos School)
I have been going to MCS for 10 years and along the way I have learned many lessons and made many friends. I've grown into a very positive person and I somewhat owe that to MCS. The community is so close and loving it rubs off on the kids and that's exactly what it did on me. The relationships I have with the teachers here I probably won't find anywhere else. I dearly love this place. I will miss it a lot, but I am ready to graduate.
Pearl (Elisabeth Irwin High School)
We all know that MCS is somewhat of a bubble but that's why we have been taught to spread our MCS knowledge when we get out into the world. We are taught to spread what we know about integration, freedom of speech, social justice and so much more. We are taught to stand up for what we believe in and push indifference aside. We have been taught to not sit and watch but to act, march and peacefully protest. MCS is a place different from any other. I can’t say that I'm totally on board with graduating right now, but I can say that I will be applying the knowledge I gained from MCS everywhere I go.
Jan-Adam (The Calhoun School)
During my time at Manhattan Country School, I have learned three significant and important lessons that will remain in my heart for as long as I live. The first one is, You will perform how you practice. The second lesson is, Time should be used wisely. "No time" is a poor excuse for handng in school work late. Last, but not least, a quote I will remember ever since my MCS debut at the age of six, "Treat others how you want to be treated." I remember these eight words hanging on the wall of the former 6-7s classroom on 7 East 96th Street. These three powerful quotes have taught me some of the most important lessons I may ever learn in my life.
Jenna (The Beacon School)
I remember being in about the 9-10s when I realized "Oh, we aren't just moving on to the fifth grade and the Upper School. Some people are graduating and leaving to go to a new place." Before then I never thought to myself that people are actually leaving this place every year and that one day it would be my turn. Well, now it's my turn to graduate, move on and go to a new place. Am I ready to graduate? I will miss the loving community and all of the great things about this place, but I think it might be time for a new experience. You all have prepared me for the future and what's to come by giving me knowledge, showing me what it means to be an activist and much more.
Sophie (The Beacon School)
I have been at MCS for three years, and in the beginning of sixth grade, it quickly became a place that is so special to me. MCS is a place that welcomes anyone of any race, class, gender, religion and sexuality. Becoming this close with your classmates, in the sense where it feels like a second family, in such a diverse community is my favorite thing about MCS. I know that I will most likely not be a part of a community like MCS again. Thank you.
Carolina (Avenues: The World School)
I remember when I first came to MCS in the seventh grade. I am still surprised how, in such a short amount of time, I became quickly attached to many of my classmates, teachers and other fellow community members. I feel like I am ready to graduate from MCS. This school has given me the tools I need to take on a larger role of a community leader. I'm going to go different places and become a part of many different communities, and I will be carrying the tools that MCS has given me to guide me through it all.
Jonah (Academy for Careers in Television and Film)
When I came to MCS I wasn't a great student. I'm still not, but if it weren’t for the great teachers here I wouldn't have made it this far. What makes me ready to graduate from MCS is the fact that I know about activism and how to get involved in it if I want to. The fact that I know about "fake news" and what is and isn't a reliable source, especially in this day and age. And with all of this knowledge and know how that I can take into high school and further, I am ready to graduate from MCS.
Myles (The Beacon School)
Honestly, I feel that I was spoiled having Barack Obama as my president for eight out of the nine years I’ve been here. Every time something important happened in the world, we would talk about it in morning meeting; then when I got home, Obama was addressing the same thing from a similar perspective. That’s probably why the victory of No. 45 has shaken me up so much. Because No. 45 will most likely be president for my years in high school, that puts a responsibility on my shoulders to take action. The things I've learned here are 100 percent going to be taken to my new school. MCS has had an astronomical effect on my life.
Osiris (Phillips Exeter Academy)
MCS has helped me to understand the world, work in a community and gain a better sense of my identity. I have been provided the freedom to be adventurous and explore various fields of interest, while also having the structure and space to succeed. This balance has taught me the importance of learning and curiosity, to fight for what I believe in, and to question and work for the world around me. I am ready to graduate from MCS because I know what MCS means to me. This is a place where we study climate change in science class, go to protests as field trips and have discussions about intricate novels without the help of a teacher. What defines my time here and what makes this school so special is that we can embrace our identities to form a collective, inclusive, diverse community.
Jack (Elisabeth Irwin High School)
MCS was a bit of a difficult transition for me four years ago because of how different it was from my public school in California. MCS has taught me that I should think about how I get to an answer and why things are the way they are. I have learned to deepen my analysis and accept different points of view, which has made me into a better student and a better person.
There are many reasons as to why I should graduate, but the foremost one is that I understand that I will never experience anything quite like Manhattan Country School, but I can help spread my grandparents’ dream by holding on to it and spreading it wherever I go. That’s what MCS is about.
Adam (Northfield Mount Hermon)
Although I tell people that I am ready to move on and that I'm excited for a new experience, it is never easy to leave a place where you feel so comfortable. Although it is very sad to have to say goodbye to some of my closest friends for many years, MCS has set me up to want to go to different places and bring every side of myself along. For these reasons, I have never been so excited to go to a new place because I have never felt so strongly about who I am and who I can be.
Anais (Ethical Culture Fieldston School)
I am not ready to graduate from MCS. When you think about it, all you want to do is grow up and become your own person. But once you get to those milestones like leaving a place where you spent more than half your life, you never really want to do that. Maybe I don't think I'm ready to graduate, but in so many ways I am. So I will miss giving George a high five when walking through the door and hearing Tom sing to us. But I know that it is time for me to grow into the person that MCS has already helped me become and the only way for me to do that is to say “Goodbye.”