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Head of School to rising freshmen: 'Take risks, be engaged.'
Posted 06/16/2016 02:16PM


Moving from Middle School to High School is an important rite of passage, and this year 83 students celebrated this transition during the Grade 8 celebration, which took place on June 10, 2016, in the presence of Middle School Principal Phil Wendel.

“Middle School is not always easy,” Head of School Hamilton Clark told students. “For many, these are awkward years when you shoot up from childhood to adolescence, and yet are right around the corner from adulthood.”
Indeed student testimonials collected from the soon-to-be high schoolers showed that some had struggled with making friends, while others tried to discover their interests, and still others struggled with a heavier academic workload. Most, however, recognized that their teachers and, in many cases, their classmates had helped them get through the difficulties, reaching more solid ground.

“Fortunately, at ACS you have had a lot of support from teachers and administrators who care about you and who understand the challenges of the Middle School years, and they have been here to guide you through this challenging time,” continued Clark, who invited the students to continue to seek out the teachers whom they have learned to trust as they move into another chapter of their school experience.

Clark invited students to take the risk of loving, caring, making mistakes, because “the greatest hazard in life is not to take any risk.”

Reading an excerpt from “Outward Bound,” a 70-year-old American adventure program whose mission is to create more resilient and compassionate citizens who impact their world in a positive way, Clark said, “The person who asks nothing; does nothing … may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Chained by their attitudes they are a slave. They have forfeited their freedom. Only a person who risks is free.”

He continued, “Next year and every year, gather your courage and take some risks. Try out for a sport; try out for a part in the play. Stick up for a student whom others are bullying, support the underdog. Be willing to express an unpopular opinion if it is something that you really believe in. Speak out for those who have no voice. Take on a community service project for those who are less fortunate. Don’t be complacent … If you are not yet as engaged as you wish to be, become an ACS activist, risk expressing your feelings, risk being wrong.”

During the ceremony, which was interspersed with student performances, the Community Award was presented to Jana H. and Ali C.; the Commitment Award was presented to Yasmina B.; and the Citizen Award to Delaney L. and Maysoun B.

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