Reflections from Krystal White at Eighth Grade Celebration

Middle School Math Teacher Krystal White shared remarks with eighth graders and their families at the Eighth Grade Celebration in May 2023.

Good evening. My name is Krystal White, my pronouns are she/her, and I am the proud parent of Lola Kai Compton ’27. I am also the proud teacher of more than half of the students here, and I am absolutely honored to be a part of your celebration experience. Before we go any further, you need a fair warning: I process most every emotion through tears, and right now, I’m feeling all sorts of emotional! Bear with me. I may cry.

I loved having my final teaching year be with you, a class of students I have been watching grow since Junior Kindergarten. I’m incredibly grateful to have this experience with you. Frankly, it was so bittersweet to get up on Monday and go somewhere that wasn’t MICDS and to be with people who were, simply, not you. Adults are just not as much fun as you are, and I really missed you. The Middle School community has been my home and yours this past year, and now it’s time for us both to leave on new adventures. With these few last moments together, I have some pieces of advice that I hope you carry with you as you embark on your next journey.

First, show up, and support your classmates. Be a cheerleader: celebrate their successes and stand by them in their stumbles. Show that you see them and recognize their worth. There are 126 individuals in your class; each one of you deserves more love, kindness, and understanding and to be celebrated for the awesome people you are. It’s easy to say, “I respect my classmates,” but you act differently when you genuinely mean it. Be authentic, be genuine, and really mean it.

Second, be open to change. You have lots of transitions coming in this next year. Your friends will change. Your interests will change. YOU will change. Be flexible and embrace those new opportunities with resilience and optimistic excitement. A Senior shared with me recently that nervousness and excitement come from the same chemical, but we interpret that feeling differently: sometimes positively as excitement, sometimes negatively as anxiety. All this talk of change may make you feel nervous and uncertain, so try to positively frame it: don’t be worried about this next step, be excited!

Third, use your own voice and be heard. You may be tempted to use ChatGPT or other AI to make your life easier, but why give your voice and your power away to a bot?! You are important, and what YOU have to say matters. Let other people know it.

Lastly, embrace vulnerability and practice forgiveness. Only when someone shares their hopes, dreams, fears, and failures do they reveal their true selves to you. Vulnerability is a gift of trust, and this courageous act instantly builds connections, deepens friendships, and creates lasting memories. Lean into that discomfort, and you will come out stronger as a result.

I asked the Class of 2023 for some advice on how to survive and thrive in high school, and those amazingly generous folks had all sorts of things to say: ranging from “meet with your teachers” to “prioritize your sleep” to “don’t break the ice cream machine, really, we mean it!” I will email their full listing to you, and I hope you rely on the experience of those recently graduated experts.

Aanya Tiwari ’23 encapsulated the entire high school experience in a few sentences and I want to share those with you. She said, “In the sea of competition at Upper School, be self-aware of who you are and what you are capable of doing. Remember, even the so-called “big brains” of your grade didn’t get crowned the title without asking a plethora of questions, be it out loud or even to themselves. Look out for yourself and never give up, no matter how challenging it gets. Trust me, if you are working hard, putting in the time and effort, and doing what is beneficial for your academic success, you will be heard and found.”

Class of 2027, your family, your teachers, and I love every bit of you: the person you are now and the person you are becoming. Make yourselves proud, and know that we are proud of you already. Congratulations, and good luck!