by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School
My grandmother used to say that everything comes full circle, that in one way or another, we end up where we began. As we mark the end of the school year, we celebrate the ways in which the academic careers of our graduating seniors have come full circle.
This past week was the seniors’ last at MPA. They celebrated in a number of ways, including a fun senior “prank.” (I must share with you that MPA is the only school I know of where the seniors work with the administration in advance to plan their prank.) Upper School teachers served them waffles for breakfast and I treated them to Chipotle for lunch. For me, the lunch comes full circle from last fall when I met with them in groups of 10 over lunch and asked them to share with me their college dreams. Having come full circle, they received offers of admission from 113 different colleges and universities in 31 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada. Next fall they plan to matriculate to 33 different schools in 14 states.
One of my favorite traditions that marks the end of the school year occurs at the very end of the last day with our seniors. They gather in the Upper School Commons with their kindergarten buddies to offer words of advice and encouragement. The seniors also help the kindergartners fill out a questionnaire about their hopes and dreams for themselves and the world when they will be graduating.
One mother emailed me the results of her daughter’s questionnaire. In response to the question, “If you could invent something that you think would make the world a better place, what would it be?” Her daughter said, “More MPAs” and “Cars made out of candy.” That response was profound, simple, and heartfelt. To think that a five year old would think that the world would be a better place if all children could attend MPA was very touching.
Jack Gangestad offered this advice to his kindergarten buddy, “Sometimes your kindergarten passion is your lifelong passion. Don’t abandon it too soon.” What begins as a dream is refined, over time, to become a lifelong passion. It takes patience and perseverance to see a dream through and close a circle. In Jack’s case, his research about Ohio in the third grade “Parade of States” project-based learning came full circle when he was offered admission to Ohio State University.
In her senior speech given last week to all Middle and Upper School students, one senior shared her unique perspective on her time at MPA. She transferred in to MPA as a junior from a large public high school. In a particularly poignant moment, she reflected on how her world was small even though she attended a very large high school and contrasted that with how her world expanded during her time at MPA even though it is a small school. “I have learned that my world has grown more than I could have imagined and I am surrounded by some of the brightest, most grounded people who care more about who they’re helping than who they’re wearing. Most people make friends in high school, but here we’ve made a family.”
If we are truly paying attention, there are times in our lives when realize we’ve come full circle. As we look back and reflect upon how much we’ve grown, we gain confidence to take on new challenges. We close the circle and begin anew. I will miss this group of seniors but cannot wait to see what lies ahead for them and how they will change the world by dreaming big and doing right.