On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 22 eighth-graders graduated from Manhattan Country School. During a ceremony shared with faculty, staff, family and friends, the graduates offered the following thoughts about their time at MCS.
Aaron (Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts)
I am ready to graduate from MCS because I have been with this community for so long that I believe that it's time for me to leave and experience new things and come into other people's lives. I have definitely gained so much from my fellow students and my supportive teachers, and I have learned that I have many things to figure out in high school in order for me to find out who I am. My peers have shown ways of problem-solving without causing too many problems. They have also shown me how to check myself before I speak and hurt others' feelings. MCS has prepared me for high school in many ways—ways of socializing and ways of class behavior. I have not been a squeaky clean student, but instead of MCS giving up on me, they taught me how to be better. There were instances where I wouldn't act right to some of my classmates. The situation was resolved and I now have healthy relationships with my fellows student and love laughing with them. MCS will always have a place in my heart. Even if it does have many faults, it's still home. I wouldn't trade my memories with the community, and even the school's buildings, for anything in the world, of course disregarding immediate family members.
Ariana (Phillips Academy Andover)
I have learned valuable life lessons at MCS that will help me incredibly when I go to high school. I have learned how to be confident, always ask questions, have a powerful opinion, and to be as thoughtful as possible. I am going to miss learning a new lesson every day from this small MCS community. But there are multiple definitions of leaving MCS.
If leaving Manhattan Country School means going into the world to learn from new life experiences and finding a passion for education, yes I am ready to leave. I am ready to become an even bolder, independent, young woman as I dive into the deep sea of high school. I am ready to take every chance to become a better version of myself and find a love for any and every subject.
But if leaving MCS means leaving my friends and this wonderful school community, no I'm not ready to leave. I have grown to love my class extremely. I have made my best friends here and I'm so sad to see us all leave. One of the main problems our class has is how much we talk, but all that means is we like each other. We like to talk, laugh and cry together. This is my family. I'm ready to live new experiences but leaving these people will be hard.
Asad (The Fessenden School)
In my 10 years at MCS, I have learned so much and grown in so many different ways: as a student, as a friend and as a member of a diverse global community. I’m immensely grateful for every assignment, every class, every field trip. Each experience I’ve had here has helped me grow as an individual. Now, I am ready to move on and open up a new chapter in my life.
One important lesson I’ve learned at MCS is to be confident in my opinions and beliefs, and not be afraid to express them. MCS’ commitment to social justice and tolerance has greatly influenced my own worldview, and has made me a more understanding and open-minded member of society. Thank you, MCS, for the countless memories, irreplaceable relationships and the life-changing experiences. I’m going to miss all of it.
Brianna (Manhattan Hunter Science High School)
There are many reasons why I am ready to graduate from MCS. The first one is how MCS has taught me how to be an activist. The teachers have done a great job of mixing activism into the curriculum. In the sixth-grade my class wrote letters to ask that the parks department remove the statue of J. Marion Sims. Later we also contributed to two fifth floor activism campaigns—one focused on divesting from companies that support fossil fuels and the other focused on battling domestic violence. Without this exposure to activism I would not be as outspoken and opinionated. Finally MCS has taught me to be unique and to use my skills. During my time on the fifth floor I have learned to love science and math. My teachers have also worked with me to find my strengths and weaknesses in all my subjects. Without them I would not be able to grow as a student. Without MCS and its amazing community I would be going into high school with a different focus. All of these things leave me to believe that I am ready to graduate.
Christina (Oakwood Friends School)
I'm ready to graduate from MCS because in only the two years I've been here for, I learned a lot about MCS' ideals and goals to make smart and socially aware children. I now consider myself an activist and I've turned into a different person from the day I first walked in here. I'm now a more confident, intelligent, and mature person who wants to pursue a future in activism. MCS is also full of supportive staff and teachers who helped me a lot. They were here for me whenever I was stressing about work and always tried to make school life here safe and fun—especially Tom, my advisor, who always helped me keep up with my work and made advisements enjoyable. Although it's sad to leave my class and everyone in MCS' community behind, I know I'm ready to move on and go to high school. It was nice to see me open up slowly to everyone and connect with all of you. I will forever remember MCS and keep it in a place of my heart.
Cruz (The Beacon School)
My 10 years at MCS have been spectacular. From the first day I walked in, I was greeted with enthusiasm and kindness. Each day is a new adventure. From spending time feeding goats to spending hours in math class working on projects, MCS has shaped me into the person I am today. MCS has given me the tools to succeed in the “real world”. Through having smaller classes and a tight community, MCS has created a flourishing relationship between my peers and me. MCS has taught me to be my own individual person and express my creativity through any way possible. Through my persistence and desire to succeed I feel proud to say I am ready to graduate. MCS is an outstanding school and I wouldn't have liked to attend anywhere else.
Emma (High School of American Studies at Lehman College)
One of my earliest memories is when I first visited MCS. I remember the big, heavy wooden door that I was way too small to open. I was overwhelmed by the big kids, I realize now they must have been 6 or 7, playing games in the courtyard for the Penny Carnival. But when I went into the 4-5s classroom and fed strawberry tops to Jeffrey, the class bunny, I wasn't so scared anymore. So many of my memories, not just my earliest ones, are from MCS. I've spent so much time here and at the Farm, and learned so much. I can write an essay, I know how to milk a cow, and I've managed 10 years with this class that has basically become my extended family. I can't believe I'm actually leaving MCS, but I feel ready to have new experiences and create new memories out in the world.
Eva (Eleanor Roosevelt High School)
Leaving MCS means I will leave a group of people that I have known, and grown up with, for 10 years. MCS has shaped me into the person I am today. I have been in MCS since I was 4. I have grown up here and I have been impacted by every person I have met here, whether they taught me about a skill like math or English, or how to be a person I want to be. I have learned something from everyone here. I have learned from my teachers to work hard to fix my mistakes. I have learned from my friends to take risks. I have learned from being in the Upper School how to be responsible. I am ready to graduate because I am ready for a new experience, and I'm ready to learn from new people. I have very little memories from before MCS and I will never forget the ones that I made here, but I am ready to make new ones with new people and teachers. I feel that MCS has done a great job teaching me and I am ready to hear a perspective of the world from a new group of people.
Joe (Elisabeth Irwin High School)
First, I want to say thank you for all of you coming to my graduation. I want to say thank you to all of the teachers for teaching me almost everything I know–including how to accept being bored and doing nothing about. Thank you for the 10 percent of homework that was fun and helpful. Thank you teachers for waking up every day and coming to school before all of us and being flexible on staying late and getting here early to meet with us. Thank you to the seventh-graders for an amazing last year at MCS. You guys are probably scared of doing this [speaking at graduation] next year and you should be. Thank you to my parents and all of the parents here who get their kids to school and pay tuition so we can be here every day. I would not be here today without all of my peers. The 10 years that I have been here have been literally life changing. Every day I come to school thinking there is no way that the kids in my class can do something more annoying to teachers or more stupid. I am always wrong. I have learned that the happier you are the more you learn. When I imagined what my graduation would be like when I was in the 4-5s, I thought it would be on some huge football field and at the end we would throw our caps in the air at the end just like "High School Musical." It is nothing like that, but this works too. MCS will forever hold a part of my heart.
Jonás (The Calhoun School)
I feel like I am ready to graduate from Manhattan Country School, to get a new start in a different community and to share what I've learned about here at MCS. I have been in this community for nine whole years. MCS has one of the most diverse communities I have ever been in. I have grown very close to my class during these years and will keep them as friends forever. MCS has also taught me to be an open-minded person, to listen to people’s opinions, be more politically active, and respect everyone regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. MCS has been a very big part of my life, and will continue to be so.
Jory (High School for Math, Science & Engineering at the City College of New York)
I started MCS in the 4-5s and was the youngest in the school. Now I am in the eighth grade and graduating but still people know me as the youngest one. That is one of the biggest things I am going to miss from MCS. I am going to miss how everyone I have met here knows my name, and even knows me on a personal basis. I am going to miss how almost everyone my age has had the same teachers as I have, and because of that have similar, but amazing experiences. I have learned things that I wouldn't have at other schools and am ready to graduate because I think I have had the entire experience of MCS and am ready for somewhere new. I have become an activist and have changed from a writer who summarizes to one who is analytical. If you asked me a month or two ago if I was ready to graduate from MCS, I would have said no. That is because I hadn't been on my eighth-grade farm trip. I had so much fun at the Farm, and have since the 7-8s and I'm going to miss it maybe the most of anything. Returning on Farm Outing Day and other community days will be something I look forward to as I move on. I am ready to graduate because I can bring things I have received from MCS to my new school and eventually spread it on in my adult life. This is a place in my heart that will not be forgotten and I hope to have more memories as life proceeds that I can bring back to my family, MCS.
Kyle (Léman Manhattan Preparatory School)
I have been a part of the MCS community for 10 years and every year has been special. There will likely be no other place where I'll spend this much time with the same group of people in the same community because of the amount of time I have spent at MCS and with everyone in this class. At MCS I have learned and gained a social consciousness of the world around me, through donating our earnings from the Penny Harvest to a local homeless shelter and protesting as part of the "hands up don't shoot" movement on the side of the street in Central Park. I also feel incredibly fortunate for the time I have spent at the MCS Farm. The summers spent with my friends and the weeks I have spent with my classmates are moments I will cherish forever. The Catskill Mountain morning breeze that wakes you up instantly will always be something I remember. The feeling of the cow and sheep fur as soft as a cloud will be something I will never forget. Special people and memories like the eighth-grade bonfire will make Manhattan Country School have a place in my heart.
Lily (High School of American Studies at Lehman College)
I have spent the majority of my life at MCS, and am ready to be done with that part of my life. I will be sad to leave, but I understand that change is necessary. I have spent my whole life with 20 people, and I have become even closer to them than anyone could ever imagine. I have gone through everything with my classmates by my side, and I can't imagine how difficult it will be to not see them every day. Even so, I'm excited about high school and look forward to being able to meet new people who haven't known me since age 4. I'm ready to be more independent and to have a morning free of mindfulness for once. At MCS, I have learned so many things. I have learned to debate with people, almost a bit too willingly. My writing has improved so much, even since the seventh grade, to the point where I am almost ashamed of my early seventh grade writing. Most importantly, MCS has taught me to look at everything with an open mind, and to accept people as they are without demanding change. Leaving behind the place that I have spent almost my entire life is one of the most difficult things I've dealt with in a long time, and I will always treasure the friends and memories that I made at MCS. I will miss talking with my friends every day at lunch, and laughing until it hurts. I will miss walking through the hallways and being greeted with only familiar faces. I will miss complaining about nearly every aspect of MCS to my friends, while simultaneously loving nearly every aspect of it. However, most of all, I'll miss having a second home I can come to almost every single day. To everyone at MCS, especially my class, thank you so much for creating an experience that I will always hold close to my heart.
Morgan (Horace Mann School)
MCS has been all I’ve known ever since I was 4. For 10 years I’ve been coming to this school, and it is sad to be leaving. But, all good things must come to an end, and this chapter of my life must end eventually, and I know I’m ready for it. Throughout these 10 years I have strived to succeed in bettering myself both as a student, and as a member of my community. And I believe, through the aid of my teachers, through the aid of my peers, and through my own determination, I have succeeded in this goal. I have learned to respect others regardless of cultural backgrounds, to cherish all human lives as if they were my own, and I have learned a kind of compassion that only a school as wonderful as this can teach. I have learned to work with people, to organize my peers, and to support them in all of their endeavors. I love this school and all of the people in it. MCS has been like a second home to me, and it is both sad, and exciting to leave. But I know that I am ready. I am ready to go to high school, I am ready to meet countless wonderful people, and I am ready to leave MCS.
Nico (Ethical Culture Fieldston School)
As I am writing this reflection about my time as MCS, I am sad and happy at the same time. I am sad that I have to leave this great school. I am sad that I don't get to go on one more farm trip. I am sad that I don't have one more year in this great community of teachers, students and parents alike. But through all this sadness there is still happiness. I am happy that I had nine great years here, even though I wish I had more. I am happy that I got to experience a farm and milk a cow and clean out a cow's stall, even though I never really enjoyed it. I am happy that I met all the kids in my class and became great friends with them. So the question I have to answer is "Are you ready to graduate from MCS?" So am I ready? Yes and no. I don't think any of us will be ready to leave this great place, even though we might complain about MCS a lot. But what I think we are ready to do is to bring the ideas of community and activism along with the ideas of MLK to wherever we might go in the future.
Nirvana (York Preparatory School)
Within the seven years I spent at MCS, I've come to realize how ready I am to graduate from this place I call home. Even though, I've come to make great friends here at this school, I'm ready to have new experiences and meet new people and learn in a new environment. From the mammal study in the 7-8s, to the Egyptian Marketplace in the fifth grade to the Social Justice Data Fair in the eighth grade, MCS has prepared me with the knowledge I need to be able to part ways and think freely not only academically but also socially and emotionally. Being part of a community that’s as strong and as diverse as MCS, will greatly be missed as I go off to high school. Stepping into a school where I can look around as see many faces that look like my own and allowing people from all sorts of different communities and backgrounds come together is what makes this school so special to me, so In some ways I do believe that there is a small part of me that doesn't want to graduate at all. Overall the things that I love about myself is a result of being in a community like MCS's, even though I've never been more ready to graduate, this school will greatly be missed.
Roxanne (Manhattan Hunter Science High School)
When I first heard the question "Are you ready to graduate from MCS?" I thought, no, how could anyone be ready. When I was two weeks old I was left in front of the gate to an orphanage. The orphanage placed me with a loving foster mom. Then one year later I was adopted by my forever family. I was one of the lucky ones. Many kids will stay in orphanages or foster homes their entire life or at least most of it. Being an adoptee, I always think about what was meant to be. I think about all the events that placed me with a loving family and this amazing school. I was so lucky to come to a school where you are more than just a grade or a name. MCS has taught me that helping others is one of the best ways to help yourself. The teachers here have taught me that getting the answer is not always what’s most important, it is about how to you get to the answer. I want to leave MCS knowing that there will always be a community that I can come back too and people that will always remember to me. So, am I ready to leave MCS? Yes, I am, because I know that leaving MCS was also meant to be.
Ruby (Léman Manhattan Preparatory School)
I have been at MCS since the age of five. Leaving MCS is not just going to another school but leaving a second home and family. My experience at MCS has provided me the opportunity to work well in groups yet at the same time become an independent thinker. MCS has allowed me to grow into a leader at the school by lobbying and mentoring. Not only have I taken on a leadership role at school but in the outside community by raising money for foundations such as water.org. The school has taught me to be socially responsible by taking on two activism topics—divesting from fossil fuels and the fight against domestic violence—which deepened my understanding of the importance to constitute the change I want to see.
Stella (Bard High School Early College Queens)
I've been at MCS for most of my life. Like life, it hasn't been a purely good or bad experience. I've gone through some tough experiences during my time here, but no matter what problems were happening outside of school, I've always felt like I had a place to come back to. Most of my favorite experiences took place at the Farm. From jumping in leaf piles to singing in a field of flowers, those experiences brought my friends and me closer together and made me feel like I belonged. Part of saying goodbye to this school is saying goodbye to farm trips. I've already said goodbye to the Farm on our last trip. I'll never forget it or our last night there when we all gathered around a fire talking. We all cried talking about why we'd miss each other. My class has been a family for me, so I always knew leaving would be hard. I can't imagine leaving ever being easy, no matter how much I want new experiences. So how do you leave the community you've been coming to everyday for the past 10 years? I don't know, but MCS has played a crucial part of making me the person I am today. It's helped bring me through the hardest things in my life. So if anything can help me leave MCS, it's the memories and strength this class has given me.
Sydney (The Ursuline School)
I remember my first day at MCS. I would walk the halls and people would say "Are you Brandon's younger sister?" or "I remember you when you were in your mommy's tummy!" and I thought I was on top the world. People I didn't even know would come up to me and know who I was. I thought I was famous. (I was 5 by the way.) And that is one of the reasons I love MCS. Not the being known part, but the fact that our small community in our little building on 96th street (which was the biggest building to me) my first day of school, people gave me a very warm welcome and I really felt loved. After that, I walked around like I was 10 feet tall and probably got on a lot of peoples nerves. But I guess I should thank Brandon for talking about me so much. So thanks Bran. Anyways, that little building on 96th will always be my other home, along with the farm, and the gym in this building, where I spent a lot of my time this year.
A lot of me is really scared to jump into the big, scary world outside MCS. But a little, tiny part of me feels like MCS has protected me from that world for long enough, and MCS has prepared me and I'm ready to dive deep. There are lots of little things that MCS has, that I know won't be there in any other school I go to—like the high-fives from George in the morning, retakes on tests and quizzes, white sheets to tell you what work you're missing, the hugs you get from your mentee in the hall, and the first time you jump in the hay jump at the Farm. Our tight-knit community is definitely something that worked in my advantage this year. I'm extremely close to my classmates (some more than others), and a huge part of that is because I've been with you for 10 years.
I want to thank the MCS staff, for shaping me into the strong, imaginative, and maybe a little immature girl that you see right now. If you were my teacher and even if you watched me for a little, I think you would notice that I struggle with things that others might not struggle with, and things are harder to understand for me. Thank you to all the teachers, who sat with me after school, and who dedicated time to making sure that I was okay. And that leads me to my other thank you, to the people you see behind me. We've all had our highs and lows (or roses and thorns, as Tom likes to call them) but I'm glad I went through them with you. We might be the class who talks to much, or the class who got yelled at the most, but in my eyes you guys are the best class in this whole school. I love you guys so much, and I don't know what I would do without you. And last but not least, thank you, MCS. There was never a day that I walked through the front doors and felt like I didn't belong. I have felt loved and cared for every single time I walked inside. There was never a dull day, and I've been here for 10 long years, so that's saying something. Anyways, Tom’s advisement was the best, and Norte was the better homeroom. That is all.
Violet (Millenium High School)
I am ready to graduate because I have been with these people for so long and I'm ready to make new friends and have new experiences outside of this community. I'm ready to leave behind all the embarrassing memories people have of me and start fresh without anything linking me to the person I was when I was younger. I'm also ready for new, different teachers and staff with different teaching methods that are not what I'm used to. I want to go to a bigger school, where I don't know everyone and not everyone knows me. On the other hand, in my 10 years at MCS, I've learned a lot. I've learned how to think critically and take leadership on issues I believe in. I've learned how to look at the world from perspectives I'm not used to and how to question people in power. Not only have I learned a lot, but I've grown very close to these 21 people—bit too close to some of them, in fact. Our class has definitely had our ups and downs, but in the end, we have been here for one another. And for the record, to all the teachers whose classes we've disrupted with our constant talking, the reason we talk too much is because we just can't stop socializing with our friends. I'm glad I went to MCS because, even though it has its faults, I wouldn't trade my experiences here for anything in the world.
William (High School of Art and Design)
Graduating from MCS has, up until this very point, not felt like something that I am ready to do. Saying goodbye to the people that have become some of my greatest friends has not been something I ever thought I'd be ready for. It hasn't been something I've wanted to be ready to do, for if there isn't a goodbye, then I haven't truly left, and I don't want to leave my friends behind.
Over the years, I've come to accept that most things aren't permanent, except for what you make permanent to yourself, and I haven't made enough things permanent. But what these people mean to me and what I mean to both them and to myself is something I want to add to the ever shorter list of permanent things.
I've gained many things during my time at MCS. I've gained friends, I've gained a better sense of who I am, incomplete as that may be. I've gained a better sense of what it is to live and what it's worth to live. I may or may not have gained some weight along the way, too.
When it comes down to the core, MCS is about change for the greater good. When it comes down to it, I'm not, I never was. I've always wanted nothing but what is good for myself and the people around me. I only ever cared for small change. MCS changed that, though I am still no great harbinger of good and light from the heavens. I merely hold a torch, a torch sparked by the bonfire of MCS' people and community—a torch that I will carry forevermore.