From the Desk of Jay Rainey – January 21, 2022

Earlier this week, I reached out to two randomly selected students in each grade at MICDS and asked, “What have you enjoyed learning about or doing in school recently?” Their responses were happy reminders—and timely ones, in the face of January’s chill—of the variety of experiences that enrich the lives of children and adolescents on our campus every day, and of the creativity, expertise, and passion of the teachers who provide them.

“I’ve really enjoyed math,” said Kai, one of our second-grade students. “Learning how to make bar models and figuring out the right answer is fun!” Evelyn, a first-grade student, has had a lot of fun “making how-to books in writer’s workshop,” and her classmate Elliot has enjoyed “learning about suffixes in Fundations, learning if number sentences are true or false, learning how the orbits of the earth and the moon work, and learning about punctuation in reader’s workshop.” Both Elliot and Evelyn mentioned “cup stacking in P.E.” as a particularly fun activity as well. (“Actually, I could go on forever,” said Elliot in listing what he loves about school.)

In fourth grade, Ellie has enjoyed learning about the French and Indian War (“I thought it was interesting that the British won against France, their Native American allies, and Spain when they joined the war.”), while Evan in third grade has been excited to learn “about the branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial.” (“We also went on a virtual field trip to the Magic House!” he adds.) Samson in eighth grade “really enjoyed learning how to do a mock trial in history class” as well as “competing against other advisories for a chance to win the Octiram.” A sophomore student said that she has “enjoyed the independent reading program in English class, because it gives everyone a nice brain break.”

In Senior Kindergarten, Yasin has had fun “learning about winter and doing the projects,” and Lily has loved “learning to read, addition in math, and new apps on the iPad.” In Junior Kindergarten, Reed has “really enjoyed music class and the songs we have learned in Spanish.” (“Spanish!” echoed his classmate Joey in an enthusiastic one-word reply to my question.) Caroline in third grade has enjoyed “Missouri history, and art” in recent weeks. Alyssa in fifth grade reports that “I really like P.E. a lot”; Amber in sixth grade has enjoyed studying the Civil War; Parker in fourth grade has had fun “learning to play the ukulele in music class”; and Sal in second grade has loved cup stacking in P.E. (It’s all about the cup stacking.)

“What we are learning in math is really cool,” reports Ryan in sixth grade, “and I really like what we just did in Spanish. All of my other classes are really good, too.” Brecken, a senior, writes, “I have been loving my second-semester electives. I am taking robotics, and it is super fun! My teachers have also been very helpful with the transition between semesters.” Adds her classmate Justin, “I have been really grateful that we’re in person because I’m allowed to collaborate and work with other students.”

“The teachers have been challenging us to learn ever since we came back,” observes Kaan, a seventh-grade student. “I feel like the amount of work has increased recently, but I think that’s for the better as we get to learn more and are challenged to become more organized students. I have especially enjoyed learning about infectious diseases in science, and the volume and surface area of three-dimensional shapes in math. I have also enjoyed the fun activities we have been doing in P.E. like swimming and squash. I have loved coming back to MICDS, and I hope more great memories are to come!”

Fourth-grader Ellie, in addition to sharing her interest in colonial American history, also noted that she “watched Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech” a few days ago and “learned that he wrote four books.” As it happens, in my outreach to the Middle and Upper School students quoted above who were selected at random to share what they are learning, I also presented ten quotations of King—many of them drawn from those same four books that Ellie referenced—and asked the students to indicate the one that “resonates in particular with you.” Between them they were drawn to these six:

“A great nation is a compassionate nation.”

(“Compassion is one of my main values,” said Justin, “and I believe we can be a better place if this value resonates at MICDS.”)

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”

(“This statement speaks to me,” said one of our sophomore students, “because it shows to even the simplest mind how wrong segregation is.”)

“Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

(“Hate is so common in the world today,” wrote Kaan, “that sometimes we can lose reality from hating each other, from being negative. I’m glad to be in an environment where hate is less prevalent, where people show love, respect, and friendship.” Amber also felt drawn to this one of King’s statements. Because hate is a burden, she said, we must “learn to forgive,” but we should “never forget.”)

“Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.”

(“If we battle hate with hate,” explained Brecken, “humanity will never advance. Someone must respond with love.”)

“We never get anywhere in this world without the forces of history and individual persons in the background helping us to get there.”

(“There will always be a time when you have to rely on someone else to help you with something,” observed Samson, “whether at school or in life.” Alyssa selected this quotation as well. “My granddad saw Martin when he was marching,” she told me with pride–and with a happy emoji. 😊 )

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

(Ryan chose this quotation, and I think it would have been my choice, too. Last week I wrote about the value of idiosyncrasy and “the richness of ‘off-pattern’ attributes” in our community, or any community. Was there ever a hero, a prophet, a visionary, or a transformational leader who was not “creatively maladjusted?” How fortunate for all of us who learn and grow from his legacy that King was maladjusted to the world in which he found himself, and creative in changing it for the better.)

What a wonderful school is ours! Always reason, always compassion, always courage. My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a very happy weekend ahead.

Jay Rainey
Head of School

This week’s addition to the “Refrains for Rams” playlist: I Won’t Care How You Remember Me by Tigers Jaw (Apple Music / Spotify)