Student Voice: Jai Patel ’25

Jai Patel ’25 gave the following remarks at the 8th Grade Celebration in May 2021.

Hello, Class of 2025. I am so grateful that we are all here together in person after the extraordinary experience through which we have all endured over the past two years. Usually, it’s sad to see things come to an end like the end of an intriguing movie, the final chapter in a book, the last day of summer, Mrs. Laramie’s retirement, or in this case, the end of our 8th grade year.

We are most definitely the most resilient 8th grade class in MICDS history. Some of you are graduates of Beasley Lower School and this is one of the many MICDS milestones during your time here.  Many of us became Rams when we entered 7th grade. Our current class now represents a variety of ZIP codes and nationalities throughout the St. Louis metro area! We are reminded of that when we pass the map on our way to Elliot Chapel for assembly, and that is one of our unique qualities. I remember beginning 7th grade at MICDS. I couldn’t believe we were given our own personal computers! And …. Canvas? What’s that? There were so many new faces…and pretty girls! It was a transition year for sure. But before it could end, we experienced fear as we learned about COVID-19. We felt isolation and loneliness when we weren’t allowed to return to school last spring and see our peers and teachers; and disappointment as birthdays and bar mitzvahs were canceled. Some of us experienced failure for the first time as we were challenged on how to navigate online learning. Others learned new quarantine habits such as cubing, finger boarding, and becoming masters at Call of Duty. But, nothing seemed comfortable anymore.

We experienced a presidential election like no other. Gun violence and racism made the headlines on a regular basis and has caused divisions in our society. But guess what? We persevered and here we are together, in person. With the support of our families and teachers and the entire MICDS community, we proudly returned to school with our masks and incredible school spirit while remaining socially distanced! Some of you may even already be vaccinated! Each of us is mentally stronger than we were before. We have proven that we can work together and support one another and endure anything that comes our way. So, today is not an ending, but a new beginning as we enter the fascinating world of Upper School. There will be new friendships and challenges as we enter high school. We must push past the adversity. As we do so, we will develop lifetime relationships. Many of us will become well-respected leaders in the community. And hopefully, we no longer have to hear “Stay home!”

All of us will grow emotionally and socially over the next four years and there will be amazing accomplishments from each one of you. I can’t wait to see them. Because there is greatness in all of us, there will be high expectations. So, speak up when something isn’t right. Pick up your fellow classmates when they fall down. Stand up for what you believe in. Continue to show what you’re made of when less than ideal circumstances occur. And dream big because we are the future. I leave you with this inspirational quote from former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo: “Not only can you not plan the impact you are going to have, you often won’t recognize it when you are having it…the impact is what others frame for you and the world after it happens. The present is only what you are experiencing and focused on right now. You cannot draw that path looking forward. You cannot draw any of your paths looking forward. You have to figure out what you love to do, what you have conviction about, and go do that.”

Congratulations class of 2025! We are on our way!