What’s the key to success? Eighth grader Tilghman Carter recently shared his thoughts in his eighth grade speech. Here he is in his words:
What is school, a waste of time or the key to success? If you have already made up your mind that it is a waste of time, then you will waste your time because you won’t be able to “see” what is worthwhile. If you imagine it as the key to success, then you will find yourself in a cornucopia of ideas that will blow your mind. I know that it is the key to success, or should I say happiness, but I struggle to play the game correctly. Some say I am that creative square-peg that just doesn’t fit in the round hole. Since the game of school is hard for me, I tend to do less instead of more.
When we are little, we dream of being an astronaut or a professional sports player, but these are just dreams. The reality is that to be an astronaut one must work tirelessly and the same goes for the athlete. The missing piece is learning to work hard regardless of your learning issues. I will have to work harder than most, and it is daunting to me. Grymes has taught all of us that we are different and that we can shoot for the stars; we can leave the box and wander out into the universe to find a new trend or invent a time machine or cure cancer. Sometimes, I think we should be shooting for more realistic futures that we can definitely achieve, but on the other hand, if we shoot for the moon, we will land amongst the stars. If you want to have your dream job then don’t let it be a dream. Make your dreams come true. So I will show you how to treat school like it is the key to success.
Hello, I am Tilghman Carter, and I am going to teach you how to take 8th grade seriously. Number one, you are here right? So pay attention. Number two, keep up with your homework. That means be proactive. Number three, notice what you love and follow it like dog chasing a squirrel wrapped in bacon.
In 8th grade, you will have Mr.McLeod, or “Sir Tupperware” as we endearingly named him. During class, he is very nice and entertains us with stories. He will help you get organized but make sure you keep up with his assignments. The term paper is tough for those of you who procrastinate. Do as he says and make your notecards worthwhile.
Science is all about experiments. The Science Fair project in 7th grade has to be about the environment, so keep it simple and follow the rubric. The 8th grade project however, this magical voyage out of the box and on to some mysterious land, is more fun. You can shoot potatoes, or raise chickens – just make sure you record the data. Again, follow the rubric if you want an “A.” Forget about paper in science class, it is a rarity and don’t forget your chromebook, or else. Florida was a vacation of learning in a good way, especially the snorkeling when I saw a shark.
Math is pretty straight-forward, although some of us just don’t get it until we are middle-aged. Math is so weird in that it is all out there and we just keep discovering how it works. If you are saying “why do I need to know this?” then I feel for you. It’s here, it runs our world and we need it. Even if you don’t remember all of it, the process takes you on a journey. It’s like a major workout for the brain, which needs it. The leading mantra in math is: “Show your work, people!” Stop cutting corners; they need to see how you arrived at the answer. You know, it’s the journey that counts everywhere apparently. Mrs. Handelsman has been my teacher for three years. You should feel lucky if you get her because she cares about your progress. Mrs. Roche is the funny one, but a lot of her humor may be over your head so just laugh along with the others.
English is the hard one, but you can survive. Ms. B likes to make us repeat instructions as if it will magically help us remember. The truth is important in her class, so if you are still lying about homework, you have met your match. She cares more about the lying than the homework, so do not lie. Ever. Lying just makes it worse, and she has a magical power that allows her to read your mind. You need to get ahead in Word Voyage, I learned this the hard way. Shakespeare starts out boring, but then when you act it out it’s fun. You have to know what it means before you are able to recite those words. Ms. Bost also has her word of shame: “Dingus.” On the other hand, “Knucklehead” is actually an endearing name she employs when she is pleased.
Spanish is a fun class if you can write six hundred words per minute. What I am trying to say is, Señora writes very fast. She fills a whiteboard as fast as she erases it. This is Señora’s regular speed. When she is behind schedule, her hand is actually a blur. She tells you five minutes before you are finished, “Alright the next thing is…” An eruption of “no’s” comes from the crowd. “Why are you so slow?” she likes to shout. This is her way of saying we are slower than snails in peanut butter. You will also often hear: “Where are the accents!!! Aye caramba!!” So take the time to put in the accents, apparently much depends upon them. Señora is fun, but you have to be Sonic the Hedgehog to write the notes as fast as she.
Art is an art in itself (no pun intended). Trust me, she is just trying to help you experience creating something from nothing. Mrs. Paschal helps you find out if art will be part of your life. You need to listen in class because if you don’t you get the “stare” which I think means: “What are you a complete doofus?” But that’s just a guess. It could mean worse. I learned to knit in her class, and I think that is one heck of an accomplishment. She makes it look so easy, and then when you try to do it, bad things happen. Don’t give up and ask questions. She will help. Oh, and last recommendation, make sure you actually clean your paintbrushes or she hunts you down later. Somehow, she knows it’s you.
Band is fun, but I can’t count, and I really wish that I had payed attention to counting because the team is counting on me to keep the beat. This turns the Christmas Pageant from a wonderful celebration to a nightmare of nerves for me. So, again, pay attention. You are here, so why not learn how to be part of something bigger than yourself like a band?
Gym is one great activity after another. We all get lots of exercise except when we are actually doing the dreaded PE- class exercises. No one wants to do the most important part. Gym is a great time to learn new skills, be part of a team, race about like a maniac without getting in trouble, and you can scream all you want too. What could be better? Mr. Little likes to rename us according to our behavior. If you are doing something wrong, he calls you “Babe” to cheer you up. If you are doing something dumb, he calls you “Squirrel” to symbolize your wits. Every year, you will face the Physical Fitness Olympics. Here you will be be put to the test and are told to run, to pull up, to push up, and to show your might. Again, you are here for a reason, so dig in, try your hardest, and you will be rewarded with the one and only Presidential Fitness Award.
Okay, so most of you should survive the classes I have mentioned, but there is one class that everyone will make it through. This class requires a no fear attitude… DRAMA. Drama is the most fun I have ever had during my seventh and eighth grade years. You play and perform skits to entertain other classmates and Mrs. Bost herself. Friday last period in Drama class is the best way to end the week.
Writing this has helped me see that school is the key to success whether you are a round peg, a square peg or a star-shaped peg. Jump in, make an effort, fail, succeed, trip, fall, get up and make school worth it for you. Open your eyes, your mind, and all will be revealed. Remember, “so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow, glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.”*
*A quote from the poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams