School ended earlier this month, which means presents, candles, cards, and a bittersweet feeling. Although I love the gifts, I really cherish the cards from the students with specific memories and things they have learned this year.
I am so proud of our graduates. In our ten months together, they worked so hard and improved immensely. Graduation was a wild, beautiful, gorgeous success in which each of the eighth-grade students gave a speech they had written. They also performed a song on guitar together.
The ceremony was on the front lawn of a gorgeous home on Stanford campus, lined with roses and across the street from a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright. After the speeches, we had catered organic tacos and the graduates swam with their little brothers and sisters in the pool.
Here is my graduation speech. I hope you like it.
One day over the summer of 2020, two concerned parents here in Palo Alto had a chat about the coming school year and talked over an idea of creating a small school with a group of students. In this school, students would learn and study the four core subjects for four days each week, and then have a fifth day of project-based learning. They shared the idea with two other parents, who joined the effort to create a positive learning experience for their students this year.
These four spent hundreds of hours on the phone, trying to convince family friends to join in this idea. At last, they found the students and teachers to start their own school.
At 8:30 am on August 24, 2020, Justin, Natalie, Zach, Max, Katherine, and Hannah became part of the first and last year of Sage Academy.
This has been a unique year.
While covid has continued, people around the world have made sacrifices to support each other, and your parents have made enormous sacrifices to support you.
This year, you’ve worn a mask to school every day. You’ve had the chance to celebrate birthdays and holidays together, with just the six of you. You’ve had the chance to learn cooking, mindfulness, Chinese, Spanish, sports, film, guitar and more.
You’ve also had the chance to study and challenge yourself in the four core subjects–math, science, English and history.
In English, you have grown in reading and writing, developed your own voices, learned the rules of language, learned to critically evaluate online information, and practiced using new words to help you express your thinking. I have loved watching you grow in English.
In US history, you have learned how the idea of the United States first started, its initial failures and successes, its immense growth, conflicts, and its changing beliefs and ideals. You’ve challenged the perspectives of historians and you’ve learned about important leaders in America.
Recently, you memorized Gettysburg address, in which Lincoln urged Americans to honor the sacrifices made on the battlefield, by working to maintain the country. Similarly, I hope that you can continue to honor the sacrifices that have been made for you, by continuing to work hard towards your goals.
I’d like to share a few of your individual strengths that I’ve gotten to see this year.
You’re a talented reader and writer. Whenever there is a quiet moment in discussion, I can always count on you to chime in with your knowledge and inferences. I appreciate your humility and honesty and I always catch you doing nice things for others. Thank you for sharing your sense of humor and hard work with our class this year.
I’ll always remember when I found out that you and Katherine were not allowed to shoot in the basketball game against the boys, in order to make the game more fair for them! I thought that was hilarious.
You are such a capable leader, and I am thrilled by your love of words! I get goosebumps when you speak passionately about your beliefs. You have a critical eye for motives in history and I hope that you always stay hungry to lead others. The world needs good leaders. Thank you for sharing your writing, your voice, and your leadership this year.
You have grown so much this year, and have done a great job of learning to express your thinking in your writing. You are always willing to think independently. I appreciate your positive attitude during both simulation games, and your detailed class presentations on the geography of Killer Angels. I love your passion for new information, especially related to technology and finance. Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and helpfulness this year.
Your sense of humor, adventure, and creativity have added much to our classroom. You make learning fun, and always put a positive spin on things. I especially enjoyed your ‘two truths and a lie’ presentation as well as your drawing assignments to memorize things in history.
This school year, you have asked good questions about how to improve your writing. Thank you for asking those questions, and striving for growth.
You always strive for perfection. You are my executive assistant and secretary, so hungry to excel. I often notice you doing thoughtful things for your friends. You have developed as a speaker and writer and with your drive, focus, and work ethic, I know you’ll continue to develop in every direction. Thank you for your conscientious work and consistency this year.
You are so humble, teachable, and funny. You have clear writing and are so interested in feedback. One of my memories from this year was your speech during the Patriots and Loyalists simulation. The sixth-graders couldn’t stop talking about how inspiring it was. You have a great presence and a wonderful attitude. Your competitive spirit in the simulation games made it more fun for everyone. Thank you for always asking more questions and coming to extra google meets.
Thank you for letting me be a part of this wonderful school year!
Congratulations to the one and only Sage Academy Class of 2021!