On Wednesday, June 4th, we celebrated the end of the school year with our Middle School Closing Chapel.
As part of the service, we recognized the Class of 2023 in a moving up ceremony. Each student received a commemorative tile, created by art teacher Mrs. Jill Beil.
In addition to a riveting solo performance by Sophia Trembler ’23, who sang “Memory/Think of Me” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rohan Mehta ’23 and Sofia Eckman ’23 spoke about the importance of the mission skills in their experiences at Moravian Academy and in the class’ transition to Upper School.
Good morning, everyone! My name is Rohan Mehta, and I am almost a ninth grader.
Let me start this reflection by saying we’ve finally done it – we’ve finally reached the end of the school year. For some of us, this year was our first here at the Middle School, for some our last, and for others still that space in between.
Today, I’d like to reflect on my career at the Middle School, so that I can hopefully share a few of the eye-opening experiences I found within its halls.
And, unless you’ve been living under a rock this year, you’ve most likely stumbled across – if not interacted with – the Moravian Academy Mission Skills: curiosity, creativity, perseverance, and empathy. In some ways, they label those things that have distinguished the environment our school has created since its inception. But that doesn’t mean fluency in these skills is something trivial – in fact, being well-versed in all four is probably one of the most difficult challenges we, as members of the Moravian Academy community, are encouraged to strive for.
And I think that’s the point, if not the intended purpose. Unlocking these skills isn’t just a product of competence in only mind, or only body, or only spirit. It requires each and every one of us to embark on a journey, along which we might expand our mind, strengthen our body, and communicate with our spirit. And it is through such a journey that we evolve as both individuals, and as a community.
For me, my Middle School years have been a journey to interact with and grow my curiosity. In some ways, this came from the wide array of new experiences and unfamiliar situations I found myself in these past years, but in many ways, it meant taking whatever curiosity I had buried inside and letting it come out. It meant learning to hold on to a question rather than mentally wave it aside, pursue something that just didn’t make sense instead of accepting it blindly, and not being afraid to be interested – and come off as interested – in whatever I was. But, at the forefront of this all, I think my experiences at PJAS in the 7th grade proved a turning point in this journey, whether I had, at the time, realized it or not.
It all started over the summer before 6th grade, when I began to dabble in computer programming. I had had an impression that it was something I had wanted to try since early-fifth grade. And so, when my parents finally consented to download the necessary programs (which was a milestone in and of itself), I was overjoyed. I started off like everyone does, with the basics, and was enraptured even by my lowly “Hello World” script. But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had this distinct impression that armed with the right tools, I could basically do anything – really, anything – with a few craftily asked binary questions, and a handful of operators sprinkled on top.
So, the following school year, when I became eligible for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy Science Fair, I jumped at the opportunity. But, in the end, the most magical thing about this experience wasn’t the end product: it wasn’t that my programming skills were vastly improved, or that my program was going to change the world. No, it was neither of these. The thing that made the science fair so appealing to me – that still does – is the sense of purpose it gives you.
I was able to create something. Something new. Something interesting. Something that before, had existed only inside of my head. I was able to share that thing with others. I was able to take it to a statewide stage, alongside my friends. My science project – my curiosity – led me not only to unlock the secrets of the Monte Carlo method, but also to see how fulfilling cultivating one’s curiosity could be – for oneself, their community, and at the largest scales, even the world. And, it was my experiences at PJAS that first let me see this curiosity in action.
Since then, I’ve always been able to reach down and find the motivation to continue tackling a problem for a few more minutes, or searching for a more satisfactory answer, or indulging a thought-experiment provided by a friend. Since then, I’ve been able to see all the ways curiosity is present in our Middle School, from the most deliberate environment to the most casual conversations in the lunchroom.
And, the more I’ve seen, the more I think that curiosity is a choice: we can choose to be curious. We can choose to be more aware, more involved – both of ourselves, and our community. We can choose to just put in a few more moments, expecting nothing out of them but a possible solution to that burning why, though it might be easier to ignore than to acknowledge. We can choose to accept our curiosity for all to see – our questions, our passions, that little itch in the back of our minds….We can choose to go on whatever journey we may need to, to get to know just how curious we really are, on the inside.
And, this is exactly the choice Moravian Academy helped me make. So, I hope that, as we stand on the edge of summer, you too were able to reflect on all the things our Middle School environment helped you accomplish this year – whether they be learnings or deeds – and take these accomplishments with you not only into the summer but the rest of your lives. Because I know that curiosity I unlocked here isn’t something I’ll soon forget.
Hello, my name is Sofia Eckman, and I am an eighth and soon to be ninth grader here at Moravian Academy. This is my third year here since I came to Moravian in sixth grade. Here at Moravian, as many of you know we have many sayings, motos, and quotes that are important foundations of our school, but perhaps the most well-known mantras of Moravian Academy this year are the mission skills: Curiosity, Creativity, Empathy, and Perseverance. These four words are written on our walls, said multiple times a day, and mentioned during chapel, and today I will be no different in bringing them and their importance up again.
Many times I find myself thinking about these words separately, but recently I’ve started to think about how important they are together. During English class this year when we were talking about Liesel from The Book Thief, or other characters in books we read, we how their perseverance, meaning their resiliency and ability to not give up.. But we also saw how they used creativity to solve problems, how they were curious about people and ideas, how they expressed care and empathy for others. In books and life, curiosity, creativity, perseverance, and empathy really do go together.
Personally, love doing theatre, dance and I especially love to sing, so creativity is always in my life. So when I am constantly singing I’m just being creative, I guess. But to do well at any of that requires hard work and persistence. It requires thinking out of the box and trying something new. It requires partnering with others and playing off one another on stage and merging voices together. It turns out, curiosity, creativity, empathy, and perseverance are everywhere.
This year I played soccer for my third year. I have never been the best at soccer, but my parents challenged me to continue to play. In sixth grade my soccer season consisted of sitting on the bench, filling up water bottles, and later breaking my wrist midseason. With a fractured growth plate, I have to admit I was a little relieved to be excused from sprints, and other things that I didn’t particularly enjoy. In seventh grade, I still didn’t love soccer, and I had a fear of messing up in a game and everyone getting mad at me. I soon learned that everyone was supportive of each other, but I still wasn’t particularly interested in playing. I spent the games begging the coaches to not make me play because by that time, trust me I was an expert at filling up water bottles.
When the soccer season started this year, I set a few goals for myself: I wanted to actually enjoy the game and to strive to be more excited and involved on the team. I would push forward with a positive attitude and get the most out of the season. I would try even harder than I had to improve my skills and be a leader to the 6th and 7th graders on the team. In other words, I would be creative, indulge my curiosity, show empathy, and persevere.
My parents were probably confused why, all the sudden, I was looking forward to soccer practices due to my creative idea of trying to make the most of playing a sport I previously hadn’t enjoyed as much. And then a funny thing happened. Even though the only thing I change was my attitude, I found myself also becoming a better soccer player…I was working really hard to improve. I stretched my comfort zone and ended up with super amazing memories of playing soccer this year. There’s nothing to be gained from quitting or giving up. Some creative perseverance and a little positivity can take you pretty far, and teach you a lot.
So here’s a challenge we can all try: Think about a time you confronted an obstacle or something that you didn’t love doing and you used your creativity to persevere. Or think of a time your curiosity led you toward greater empathy for someone else’s experience. Or maybe there’s a time you persevered and ended up creating something new.
I’m so glad I was able to gain a new appreciation for soccer, and I am glad to have not given up on caring about the sport since I gained so much from playing it.
As we head into summer, we might not hear the mission skills brought up every day. You might not have them stenciled on the stairs in your house. And there probably won’t be any chapel talks on your vacation. But whatever you end up doing this summer, try mixing in a little creativity, empathy, curiosity, or perseverance, and see what happens.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!
Gregory Gianforcaro, Jr.
Elena Tongg Weiler
View photos from the ceremony:
Watch the ceremony below: