The Golden Ticket of MICDS

As this past summer came to a close, my son, a 5th grader, was now staring Middle School right in the face. I knew in my heart that he was going to have to step it up a bit, learn some independence and be able to manage much more complex schedules and academic experiences. And, as a parent, I am always trying to strike that perfect balance between inspiring and motivating my kids versus pressuring and downright threatening them. (I will admit that I have done that.)

I knew I had to have a “talk” with my son, but this is the child who complained about summer homework with a full-body whining experience, so I needed a much more creative perspective on pumping him up for this next leg of his educational journey.

So I asked myself two questions: 1) What do I want the most? Answer: I want him to approach learning with joy, excitement and curiosity. 2) What does that look like?

Enter Willy Wonka.

If you do not know the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it goes a little something like this (courtesy of Sparknotes):

  • Willy Wonka owns a chocolate factory.
  • He offers five “Golden Tickets” for the public to enter and tour his factory.
  • An assortment of children win the tickets, including a boy named Charlie Bucket.
  • The children tour the factory, ultimately succumb to their character flaws in dramatic but only temporarily disastrous ways – except for Charlie – and after each fiasco, Willy Wonka is calm and remains steadfast that it will all work out in the end.
  • The real prize at the end is not just a tour, but winning the whole factory.
  • With Charlie as the last standing Golden Ticket owner, Wonka, Charlie and his Grandpa Joe enter a glass elevator and rocket straight up, through the ceiling and into the sky with Charlie’s future ahead of him filled with unlimited possibilities.

[Before I finish my story, I want to add the disclaimer that I am not suggesting that MICDS Head of School Jay Rainey is Willy Wonka, nor is MICDS a chocolate factory. And we do not have Oompa Loompas.]

The best part of this idea is that my son’s name just happens to be Charlie, so you can imagine what happens next.

I sit Charlie down and tell him that he doesn’t HAVE to be at MICDS. We live in a great public school district. Being here is a choice. We have made this choice because of the programs and opportunities offered at MICDS.

And, Charlie, you have been handed a Golden Ticket. I want you to drink from the chocolate river, eat the everlasting gobstoppers, lick the lickable wallpaper, and enjoy the (hard-to-pronounce) Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights.

He laughed at the comparison and I saw that twinkle in his eye that meant he got it.

As parents, the reality is that our kids are going to show their character flaws, they are going to fall into the chocolate river or chew themselves into a giant blueberry, but they will do it in a container of compassion, courage and empowerment and the perfect amount of trust that it is all going to work out in the end.

What makes this scrumptiously possible? The MICDS Fund. Independent schools like us rely on MICDS Fund dollars, in addition to tuition and endowment income, to keep the lights on, to ensure our faculty and staff are paid and that our student-teacher ratio remains low, to provide nutritious food in the cafeterias, to support financial aid for EVERY child (because tuition doesn’t cover it all), to fund field trips and technology and to exceed all expectations.

The MICDS Fund is not just purchasing the metaphorical chocolate, gobstoppers or candy; it is providing the EXPERIENCE of all of those things combined which makes the MICDS difference.

My wish for all MICDS students is the same wish I have for my Charlie. To eagerly sample all the candy in this factory with curiosity and joy.

My wish for MICDS is that you – parents, alumni and everyone in between – will wholeheartedly support the MICDS Fund at a level that feels right for your family, so that we can continue to provide these delectable treats and choices that are a hallmark of an MICDS education.

I hope you will join me in supporting the MICDS Fund this year. It’s the most important gift you can make that will benefit every child every single day and will allow our kids to have a taste of that glass elevator.