“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neal Hurston
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Steven Hawking
To launch the new decade, Middle School Assistant Head Kiki Felt began the year’s first assembly with a story. In her Christmas stocking, she received a calendar celebrating phenomenal historical figures. Each month was marked with dates that have shaped history. Flipping through, Kiki noticed a theme: these weren’t stories of easy wins and celebrations; they were ones of adversity, challenge, and near-constant change.
Student council presidents Mina M. ’24 and Dhruva S. ’24 then spoke to their peers about two January-born changemakers, Zora Neal Hurston and Steven Hawking. Mina and Dhruva each shared a short biography and slideshow, talking about the many challenges behind Hurston and Hawking’s celebrated accomplishments. Both of Hurston’s parents were enslaved and, when she was just thirteen, her mother passed away. Hawking contracted motor neurone disease in 1963 and was given two years to live.
To echo the message, Kiki Felt shared a clip from former First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2016 commencement address to the City College of New York. “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage,” said Michelle Obama. “Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”
The speech helped Kiki Felt instill in her students an awareness that “life’s going to be full of challenges and full of celebrations,” she said, hoping they walked away with more perspective. “That bad grade you get isn’t the end of the world.”
Assembly ended with an exercise in self-reflection. “Now that it’s a new year,” Kiki asked, “what will you do that’s new?” In Life Skills and Advising, students continued to think about and discuss their own challenges and goals.
When asked, “What do you want to stop, start or do more of? What do you want to learn about?” Head-Royce Middle Schoolers answered:
Biting my nails
Being a perfectionist
Wasting time on my phone
Thinking about the present
Getting more sleep
Being more confident
Paying more attention to politics
Composting and recycling
Judging people less
Take a look at the bulletin board in the Middle School hallway for even more 2020 New Year’s Resolutions.