This year's Karamu sheet gave students the opportunity to celebrate the “unique and beautifully diverse cultures of our friends and neighbors.” I was so moved by the submissions of our middle schoolers, some of which are pictured here. Despite this age’s reputation for self-centeredness, tweens are are keen observers of their friends and families; they are sensitive, empathetic and connected.
We spend a lot of time in classrooms addressing and encouraging this lesser-known side of our middle schoolers. We now know that social-emotional skills not only make children good community members, they also drive and facilitate intellectual development.
Those of you who were here visiting this week saw some examples of this. Fifth graders wrote speeches to be elected as class representatives. They wrote about their commitment to each other, to the grade, to being good listeners, and to improving the community (new clubs, reducing waste, raspberries for snack). In adolescent issues, sixth graders brainstormed the ingredients of good apology - that you should describe what you did, never say “I’m sorry if...” or “I’m sorry you...”. Eighth graders from the women’s affinity group (WAG) helped to lead a middle school assembly about positive masculinity. These are just a few of the many ways we help middle schoolers exercise and develop the consideration and insight that came through so vividly in this years Karamu posters. I hope you can make it to tonight’s celebration.