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Closing Out 'The-School-Year-Like-None-Other'

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

We made it through!

Here we are, on the other side of the school year like none other. A school year that stretched us in ways we didn’t know were possible.

It pushed us to lean into our creativity, as we figured out what pandemic-impacted school even looks like.

It called us to dig deep and find the resilience, strength, and courage needed to move forward on a completely uncharted path.

It deepened our empathy, our compassion, and our relationships, like only weathering a storm together can.

I am so immensely proud of what our Hess teachers and students pulled off this year. Not only did they do all the usual school stuff-- which is a LOT in and of itself-- but they did it within the context of this highly UNusual year (to say the least). WOW!

One of the best things about a small school is how we get to truly know each and every student on an individual level. So while just making it through this year is reason enough to celebrate, we also celebrate the seven incredible individuals we’re sending off, as our 8th graders take the next step on their journey and head to high school!

Here’s what their teacher, Daniel Buckley, had to say to the Hess Academy Class of 2021 at this year’s extra special graduation ceremony.

"We have gathered here today to celebrate seven amazing individuals for who they are, what they have accomplished, and how they’ve grown. In order for us to truly appreciate what this year has meant for them, I would like to invite you to do something.

Take a moment. Search your middle school memories--for some you, this may mean opening some carefully locked boxes-- and reflect on your own eighth grade experience.

Can you feel what it was like to be in your own skin at that age?

Can you hear in your head the questions you were asking about the world, about yourself?

Now, imagine that you are holding all of those feelings and asking all of those questions as the world requires you to rethink how you inhabit your body around other people, for their safety and yours.

Imagine living in those big questions as the world seems to be changing as quickly as you are.

Now, can you recall the formula for locating the distance between two points on a coordinate grid depicting the United States decline in GDP during the 2008 recession? Because your quiz starts right. now. Have I mentioned that it’s 9:00 a.m. and 39 degrees in your classroom?

So, Hess Academy’s class of 2021, you asked me this week: why do we hold a ceremony with so much pomp and circumstance? Here’s my answer.

The people who care about you will always celebrate the many days where you ask questions, take risks for what you believe in, share what you think, revise what you think, speak up, listen well, stand up for yourself and others, or suffer defeat and failure but still choose to get back up. What is Middle School if not a proving ground? One where you all have demonstrated your grit, day in and day out.

Put simply, we celebrate you today because we love you, and we value the privilege we have had to grow with you and walk this road together for a precious, short time.

Truly, you are worth celebrating."

- Daniel Buckley


Hess Academy is a preK-8 private school in Decatur, GA. Hands-on learning, small class size, supportive relationships, and a holistic approach set Hess apart. Get in touch!

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