"Give and Take" by Dean of Students Mark Spence
By the time you read this, prom will be in the rearview mirror. Seniors are doing work but always seem surprised—and even a little incredulous—that they still have more to do. The countdown to graduation has begun.
Seniors experience mixed feelings as they approach graduation—happiness, fear, anxiety, sadness, relief, excitement—just to name a few. They begin to reflect on their experiences in their high school years and to wonder, and perhaps worry, about their futures. Our hope is that they will recognize not only what they received from Nobles, but also what they have offered this community.
As a school, we want to offer students as much as we can. Whether the task is academic, co-curricular or social, we encourage students to develop their problem-solving and leadership skills, their confidence and their character. We hope they ask themselves, “What did I offer? What did I add”? Our sincere hope is that our seniors feel as though they have contributed to the school.
In thinking about their contributions, students and parents will often point to achievements—games won, grades earned, theatre roles played, works of art created. But we all need to think more in terms of experiences rather than outcomes. Many small moments characterize an experience more than big moments and outcomes; every moment is a part of the fabric of a school.
Our programs provide academic, athletic, EXCEL, theatre, community service, musical and theatre opportunities—but it is the people who provide the moments that create culture, growth and memories. The ways in which faculty and students connect with each other create moments of opportunity and partnership. For a school to function best, this partnership has to be rich with energy, commitment and honesty.
While we celebrate exceptional performances in different aspects of school life, we cannot forget the profound impact of those students who work to grow and nurture community: the students who place sticky notes on the walls of the school with uplifting statements; the students who stood on stage to offer their support for a class that is hurting; the students who shared stories about a friend they tragically lost; the students who invited a new Nobles student to lunch; the team (that rarely ever loses) that models dignity, class and graciousness when they do lose; the students in the musical who were able to show their talent and toughness by putting on a great production night after night while dealing with the absence or illness of several cast members; the students who shared their challenges onstage so that others wouldn't feel alone. All these examples add to our school and make Nobles what it is—these examples are meaningful, powerful and valuable.
I hope seniors will take the time to consider what their Nobles education meant and what it may have gotten them. But as they do, I urge them to consider what others have meant to them—their teachers, their classmates and their friends—and find ways to tell them. Just as importantly, they should think about what they meant to others. I can’t wait to see what they experience after they graduate; they have been an impressive group that has meant a lot to Nobles.