News From Masters
The Middle School held its Graduation ceremony on Friday, June 8 in the Fonseca Center gymnasium. Congratulations to the Class of 2022!
The ceremony began with a welcome from Head of Middle School Tasha Elsbach, followed by thoughtful remarks by Daniela Batista and Finn Alexander, the Middle School's co-chairs of student government; as well as Louisa Eaton, Clyde Lederman, Arielle Halpern and Sophia Van Beek.
Ms. Elsbach noted that it was the first eighth grade graduation ceremony in which the entire Middle School had gathered for the occasion. "It's so important that we join as a community to celebrate the eighth graders," she said.
In her remarks to the gathering, Ms. Elsbach noted that Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis "often encourages his audiences to make 'good trouble.'" She cited several examples from Mr. Lewis' own life, including his many arrests for engaging in nonviolent protests against segregation in the 1960s.
"Getting into 'good trouble' means speaking out or taking direct action in opposition to an immoral or unjust law," said Ms. Elsbach. "Sometimes the simple act of writing a letter or speaking your mind in a public forum — like a school assembly or the classroom — counts as 'good trouble.' For me, 'good trouble' is about trying to change laws or opinions that you think are morally wrong."
"You've been creating the building blocks for this your entire Masters Middle School career," she told the eighth graders, noting that many of them have expressed deep concerns about such issues as school shootings, the gender pay gap, and discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Later, she noted that the students also took action by participating in student walkouts and the Middle School's letter-writing campaign calling for tighter gun control measures.
"You have also practiced activism in smaller ways," Ms. Elsbach said. For example, she said the Student Leadership Board proposed changing the Middle School dress code that was enacted this year. Although the proposal was rejected, it served as "an important lesson of 'good trouble.' Your argument doesn't always carry the day, but what matters is the process."
"To make 'good trouble,' it is important to work collaboratively," Ms. Elsbach said. "Collaboration has been one of the hallmarks of your education. From the Puppet Operas in fifth grade to the Slave Ship Trials in seventh grade to this year's spectacular Eighth Grade Arts Expo, you have been working on the key skills needed for effective collaboration."
Noting that their families, friends, teachers and advisors provided essential support through their Middle School years, Ms. Elsbach advised the eighth graders: "Lean on all of these folks on your team when you need to be brave and speak up, particularly when you see something that isn't right. You will continue to develop your skills to make 'good trouble.' "
In her remarks, Daniela Batista, co-chair of student government, told the audience of family members and friends that in her four years as a Middle School student, "Masters made me feel special, Masters made me feel important."
She spoke of the opportunities she was given to explore her interest in music, to "step out of my comfort zone," and to explore leadership skills.
Finn Alexander, the other co-chair of student government, noted that when he entered as a sixth grader, he was scared and lonely, but by the end of his first week, he realized that his classmates were equally fearful. "By the end of the first year, I don't believe that anyone was scared," he added. Instead, students' fears were replaced by feelings of "safety, contentment and a sense of belonging."
The four other student speakers also delivered engaging speeches, with all of them expressing gratitude for the support and encouragement they received from teachers, administrators and classmates, and for the strong sense of community they experienced.
After Ms. Elsbach's speech, the eighth grade advisors presented certificates to the graduates. The students then stood and sang their graduation song: "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit. Finn Alexander, Lia Alfandary, Andrew Han, Jackson Manfredi, Max Peters, Kira Ratan and Sofia Van Beek accompanied the students on bass, cello, violin, guitar, drums, piano and keyboard.
In a new twist this year, Ms. Elsbach asked the members of grades 5, 6 and 7 to stand up in turn, as Head of School Laura Danforth officially promoted them to the next grade.
In closing remarks, Ms. Danforth asked the new graduates to "take a moment to think about all of the people who have made a difference in your life and helped you get to this point."
She then asked the Middle School faculty and staff members to gather at the front of the room so they could be recognized for all that they do in support of the school and its students. The audience gave the assembled teachers and staff members a standing ovation.
Watch the ceremony again here: