The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 1, 2005

Features

Carlisle graduates the Class of 2005
What have we learned?

Rachel Landry (left) and Miranda Morrison speak at Carlisle School's graduation on June 23. (Photo by Mike Quayle)
We are the class of 2005. We live in Carlisle because our parents made a conscious decision about our education. We are in an environment where we have excellent teachers who teach us well and it's our job to learn.

We are eighth-graders who have a foundation of knowledge on which we will continue to build. Our teachers have taught us long division, spelling, and algebraic equations. They have taught us about slavery, Newton's laws of motion, foreign languages, and the stereotypes that are all around us. But education isn't just about reading, writing, and arithmetic. We have been taught to be tolerant, to be accepting of diversity, to be civil and to challenge ourselves and each other. These are the most important lessons: the ones that will hopefully allow us to become more compassionate, kind, and respecting of people.

Throughout the course of our education, we have been taught about diversity: about different people, who come from different places, who have different racial, economic, religious, and social backgrounds. For centuries human beings have been persecuted because of their differences. Even today, prejudices continue. After 9/1 1, people of Muslim descent were singled out and called terrorists, just because of the way they looked; just because they were different. We have been taught that stereotyping other people is wrong, but hatred still exists. What have we learned?

Tolerance, the capacity of recognizing and respecting the beliefs and practices of others. During the Holocaust, the Nazis never tolerated the Jews. They robbed their friends, killed their neighbors. If a Jew disobeyed orders they were whipped, beaten. If a Jew marched too slow, too fast they were shot. If word got out that a Jew stole an extra ration of bread, they were hanged. If a Jew was too young, too old, too weak, he wag sent to gas chambers, and after that crematoriums. As the class of 2005, 1 ask you how well do we tolerate others? Are we accepting of those students who don't dress the way we dress, who don't look the way we look? Do we respect others' 'political views even when they differ from our own? Do we let the new kid sit with us at lunch? Is tolerance even enough? Can we move beyond tolerance, and actually celebrate others' differences? Although we respect others political views can we be happy that they are different from our own? History tells us to move beyond tolerance, but do we listen? What have we learned?

Civility is the act of being courteous and polite to everyone. Civility demands that we pay attention to the way we treat others, whether it's holding the door open for the person behind us or saying "have a nice day" to the school nurse. When is the last time you thanked the bus driver for taking you to school, or the custodian for unjamming your locker? The smallest actions can greatly affect a person. As we leave this school, will we remember to be aware of how our actions affect others? What have we leamed?

On behalf of the Class of 2005, I'd like to thank the faculty and staff for your compassion, your kindness and your commitment to each and every one of us. And to my fellow classmates I'd like to challenge you never to forget the valuable lessons we have been taught. We owe it to each other and to the world, to remember to be civil, to remember to move beyond tolerance, to be accepting and celebrate others' diversity. After all, what have we learned?

Members of the eighth-grade graduating class give their parents a round of applause. (Photo by Mike Quayle)

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito