Holt Tipton ’23 Speaks at 2022 Open House

On Saturday, October 8, MICDS welcomed prospective families to our annual Open House on campus. Senior Holt Tipton ’23 shared his thoughts about his time at MICDS with the audience.

Always reason, always compassion, always courage. This is how our Head of School, Jay Rainey, ends every weekly newsletter. From the first time I read this in the newsletters, these three values have resonated with me. Thinking back over my time at MICDS, I realize these three traits are what have helped me develop into the person I am today.

To begin with, MICDS focuses heavily on logic and reasoning. Of course in math and science, these are encouraged as you solve for exact answers. However, through our English and history departments, our teachers make an emphasis to spend class time on discussions and forming our own opinions. We often participate in spider web discussions, where grades aren’t determined based on your opinion, but how much you participate in and contribute to the class. They also teach us to write essays that are opinionated and defend an argument. This allows us to pick sides and practice debate skills. I have a good friend who is a first-generation immigrant, and he was allowed to respectfully disagree with our history teacher on a historical topic regarding his country of origin. This not only allowed him to learn in a safe environment but enhanced the class for everybody else as we could form our own opinion and listen to both sides.

As for compassion, our School not only helps flex our muscles here, but they are also compassionate towards us. One of my favorite policies at the school is that we cannot have more than three assessments, or two major ones, on the same day. They understand students are juggling a lot of priorities and teachers want to work with us to help us succeed. Another special thing about MICDS is our Honor Council. I am currently the co-head and was the grade-level representative the past three years. What makes our Honor Council so special is that it is a fully student-run organization and we are elected by our peers. Through the Honor Council, we help students avoid Honor Code infractions, provide support, and encourage integrity.

At MICDS, I have also found my passion for giving back to my community. We hold a Turkey Train every year, where students bring in turkeys and other Thanksgiving items to donate to food banks. This is a fun tradition we look forward to every year, where all the students line up from the Upper School down to the Middle School and pass down hundreds of turkeys one by one. It’s a great way for us to kick off our holiday and get students excited about helping others.

Speaking of community service, a charity I have been heavily involved in is Doorstep Donations. Through our community service director Ms. Hamill’s help, MICDS brought the non-profit organization to Saint Louis to assist in donations to our local food bank. MICDS cares a lot about community service and we had a day off from school the other week, where all the seniors went out into the community and volunteered. I volunteered at Kidsmart, a non-profit organization that helps give teaching and learning supplies to teachers to help in their classrooms.

Mr. Rainey’s third value is courage. To me, courage is about persevering and being able to try new things and learn from failure. In the classroom, intellectual courage is emphasized. We have robust discussions around challenging assumptions and acting on new learnings and experiences. Moral courage is taught in advisory throughout the school year through various presentations.

I’ve talked a lot about what happens in the classroom, but MICDS also has allowed me to create close bonds with my classmates and enjoy my time. A few weeks ago our advisories competed in the annual senior boat race, where we were challenged with creating a functional boat out of cardboard, tape, plastic, and foam. This in itself took courage. Because of my expert sailing experience, and by that I mean none, my advisory thought I would be the perfect victim to navigate through the murky pond. The race is something everybody always looks up to since their first years at MICDS. It always looks like so much fun, especially when all the seniors run into the pond after the winner is declared. However, it’s not just the race that makes this event so great. I would say my advisory had even more fun building the boat and planning out the day. We bonded closer than we ever have as we came up with and began designing the structure. We spent the Sunday before the race at one of my fellow advisee’s house finalizing the boat. We also made shirts with our advisor, Proctor’s, signature tie on the front covered with his face, and a few funny slogans around the boat.

I think reason, compassion, and courage are the core values here at MICDS, but if I had to add one it would also be our teamwork. As we work together on projects and athletics, I have loved every minute of being a part of this great community. In closing I’d like to borrow Mr. Rainey’s quote: Always reason, always compassion, always courage. And always teamwork.