At the end of the year in middle school there are many accomplishments to be celebrated. On June 2, Class VI gave their annual ’Round the World presentations, an annual rite of passage for the grade. Sixes are assigned the task of planning, organizing, researching and describing a trip around the world visiting countries in each continent. Each section includes a country analysis, an itinerary and a journal entry, and each student creates a visual representation as evidence of their journey. Even though the presentations had to be done online, that did not change the quality of the work that was done over the course of the spring. “Our students,” said Ms. Lyons, “have all exceeded our expectations in their continued rigor for learning.”
Ms. Lyons introduced the evening by sharing sentiments about the broader scope of the interdisciplinary project that incorporated both geography and modern language classes. “We see RTW as the first step in the Nobles EXCEL experience,” explained Lyons. “Excel programs push Nobles students to serve their communities, pursue a passion, travel to and learn in new places, explore an idea or study in a different community or in a different country. We hope students take these newfound skills and apply what they learned to make the world a better place. RTW is more important now than ever, as our children face an increasingly divided world. It’s our hope that this is simply the start of a lifelong journey of exploring and understanding the world.”
All students provided visual evidence for their projects, including everything from a video of a traditional Spanish guitar performance to cooking delectable Ukrainian perogies. Students also created illustrations, paintings and collages depicting the cultures of Costa Rica, Belgium, Vietnam, Brazil, Italy, Japan and many other countries. The final projects were presented in beautiful books made with Book Creator and included the visual evidence, itineraries, research and creative journal entries from their unique experiences in their fictional travels. Class VI students put a considerable amount of hard work into the two-month project, and their doggedness was certainly evident in their presentations about their journeys “’round the world.”
On June 5, Class V held their annual Step-Up night, a ceremony that marks the transition from the middle school to the upper school. While it was unfortunate that students and faculty were unable to celebrate this milestone virtually, the show went on and this special class was sent off with a wonderful ceremony. Amelia Simons and Devin Gray were the student-selected speakers for the evening, and each delivered thoughtful commentary and reflection on their years in the middle school.
After Mr. Gifford gave his opening remarks, Simons began by thanking the many faculty and staff in the middle school who “took the time for them, who knew them, who believed in them.” She went on to liken their class to the school mascot, the bulldog, noting that their class, like the bulldog, is strong-willed, gregarious and amiable.
“We are all pretty different,” said Simon, “but there is an understanding that every person in this class matters. Everyone has a place here. I could see that within the first month I came here, and it still rings true to this day … Let’s put our minds to reaching out to new people. Let’s put our minds to cherishing every moment we have with each other, and let’s put our minds to taking each day not just for what it is, but for what it could be … We’re ready for next year. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and we still finished our last year of middle school … We’ve lost so much, but we’re still standing. So you know what I say to next year and the challenges that highschool holds? Bring it on. A bulldog is pretty awesome, and so are we. Congrats, class of ’24, we made it.”
Gray opened by talking candidly about both his successes and his failures in the middle school, highlighting the important role that his teachers played as they helped him through all of his different experiences. “The Nobles community, but specifically our grade,” said Gray, “has helped me get through every day, whether it be good or bad. That includes the Nobles faculty who have helped me and many others grow and improve each day.” Gray went on to recall specific anecdotes to show the ways in which teachers have gone out of their way to make him and his classmates laugh, to challenge them, and to help them understand concepts in new and interesting ways.
In keeping with tradition, final (and fictional) “scraps” were given out “to those who had never done anything scrap-worthy.” Among their unacceptable transgressions were smiling too much, excessive knowledge of “Star Wars,” causing traffic jams due to excessive waving, and inflicting hunger on advisors through detailed descriptions of delicious quarantine snacks.
Mr. Gifford presented the James Tim Carey Character Award, given each year to the member of Class V. The award was created to recognize a student who, “in the opinion of the middle school faculty, was making decisions that were guided by a strong sense of integrity, was being true to their ideals, goals and principles and makes a positive impact on all members of the middle school community.” Gifford explained that this year’s recipient “seemingly stepped onto campus with a sense of kindness, positivity and almost a sense of responsibility to his community and his peers.” Anecdotes from the faculty and staff illuminated the empathy and humility that characterize the recipient, Alex St. John.
Ms. Finley closed the Step-Up ceremony with the following words of advice for Class V students: “It is quite an opportunity to be given the gift of time right before one of the most transformative changes you will have faced in your young life. You are about to head to the upper school … it will be different. It will present new challenges, new opportunities. I challenge you to use this time to envision who you will be thanking in four short years. Process. Reflect. Explore … time is precious. Use it. Use it wisely. We can’t wait to see how you will shape the direction of this institution.”