Whitefield Academy Blog
Seventh Grade Charge from President Olivia Eby
Every year at Whitefield Academy in Kansas City, one senior is selected to give a charge to the incoming seventh grade class, the youngest students in upper school. This year, Student Council President Olivia Eby was chosen to address the seventh grade class. The following is her charge given at Convocation Chapel on the first day of school, August 20, 2020. Click here to read last year’s charge.
Dear seventh graders, welcome to your first year as upper schoolers! I have been given the privilege to issue the charge to your class. I realize this speech will set the tone for the year. When thinking of the awesome responsibility before me, and when wondering what exactly I wanted to say to you, I was encouraged to look back on my own seventh grade year and challenged to remember what I would have wanted to know as I entered upper school.
So here is my advice: Embrace it all. Embrace the space, the face, the pace, the place, all with grace.
First of all, embrace the space. We are in a global pandemic, just in case you haven’t heard. In many ways, you are experiencing this school year just like the rest of the us. While we all have had upper school experience, none of us has experienced the in-person upper school classes during a pandemic. Because of this, this year will be just as new to us as it is it you. If anything, you have the advantage because you come with no expectations. We know what upper school was like before COVID-19, and so in many ways, our adjustment to the new normal will be more difficult. Perhaps you will lead us in the ways you respond to this year and we will get to revisit the newness of the upper school experience.
Second, embrace the face. Yes, this year we will all look a little different. While there is some argument whether to mask or not to mask, that is not the question. As Whitefield students, we learn to lead with compassion. Wearing a mask in public spaces doesn’t have to be a fearful response but can be a desire to protect ourselves and others from the virus. It may seem to be completely unnecessary, and it will be uncomfortable. But compassion can be uncomfortable. As a new upper schooler, I charge you with learning to lead with compassion. Use the mask when required, and, if you are able, without grumbling.
Third, embrace the pace. Some days, we may get to spend a lot of class time outside; other days, we might sit in the same class all day. By embracing the pace, you are learning to adjust to whatever comes your way. You get to practice living in the present moment, enjoying every second you have with your class. The beauty of a small school like Whitefield is the closeness shared in each class. The people sitting next to you will make your Whitefield journey so much more meaningful. As a senior I can say that by the time you get to the end of your journey together, you really do feel like family. And like any family, sometimes you will not get along, especially during the stress of a pandemic. As we learn to adjust to the pace, remember everyone else is adjusting too.
Fourth, embrace the place. Whitefield is unique and nurtures an attitude of equality for all students. Even as seventh graders, as the youngest in upper school, you are still a full-blown upper school student so don’t be scared of the older, more experienced upper schoolers. I promise, they don’t bite. And if they do, come find me. No, seriously, your opinion matters. Your attitudes matter. Your efforts matter. And the lower school looks up to you. Now you get to be the older class of the buddy classes. Just as you step into the benefits of being an upper schooler, you also inherit the responsibilities. Enjoy each of these opportunities before you.
Finally, embrace it all with grace. Love the fun moments; learn from the hard ones. Enjoy the newness; accept the differences. Celebrate the victories; rejoice in the failures, because this is where we learn our greatest lessons. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Extend forgiveness to others’ mistakes and give grace to yourself and others. If we learn anything as upper schoolers, it is how to live in the world with God’s love. This is school–this is where we learn how to live.
In closing, I want to remind you to embrace the space–you are living in a new normal. Embrace the face–compassionately lead by taking care of yourself and others by practicing the new safety guidelines. Embrace the pace–be willing to adjust to change. Embrace the place–step fully into your role as an upper schooler. And let’s do it all by embracing grace–practice what it means to truly live out God’s love. This is my charge to you. Welcome to Whitefield Academy’s upper school!
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