Monthly Archives: August 2016

What It Means To Be a Tiger

By: Connor F. ’16

Commencement is a day of celebration, congratulations and excitement! But it will also be remembered with some tears, sadness, and long goodbyes. I always knew the day would arrive. However, I could never have imagined my path nor expect the journey the Class of 2016 all would take together.

I have been a student here for 15 years, and I can honestly say that Staten Island Academy has become my home away from home. It is a place that has provided me with amazing friends, trusted mentors, and countless memories that will last a lifetime. For every commencement since I was in the fifth grade, I have sat with the orchestra, listening to so many speeches that seemed to have very similar messages. Every year it seemed that at least one speaker mentioned that the high school years would fly by.  And they were absolutely right.

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It seems like only yesterday that I was that wide-eyed fifth grader thinking my commencement was so far away. However, it has arrived, and instead of simply re-telling you all just how quickly the time does indeed pass, I want to implore you to stop every now and then to cherish your time here! Not every moment is going to be a memorable, triumphant, or glorious one, and that is okay. Because of all those years sitting on the other side of this stage—watching, listening and learning—I have taken the words and advice I have heard so often and managed to slow down time as much as possible so that I can appreciate the people in my life every day, the experiences we go through, and even the difficulties we encounter together.

I now view my high school years through the rearview mirror, but I am ready to move on with no regrets because I have valued my time here.  I am not sure too many students value their high school years as much as they should. It seems that we want to move onto the next stage of our lives too quickly, but believe me when I tell you that the Academy is a second home that should hold a special place in your heart.

With this in mind, I feel compelled to share three ideals that have been important to me throughout my journey at SIA. First, I want you to know that it is possible for you to find the best in every situation. Try to understand that all your experiences, both the positive ones and especially the challenging ones, will shape you. These moments will be connected and become “the big picture” that is your life. In the book, Chop Wood, Carry Water, author Joshua Medcalf reminds us to, make sure the life we are living today, is a story worth telling in the future. I believe in living each day to the fullest.  A lot of times we are caught up in a moment or complain about a little discomfort, and we lose sight of what is really important. I challenge you:  when you feel uncomfortable or feel like quitting, find something positive for which you are grateful for in that situation.  For example, during our ninth grade trip to Fairview Lake, our class—not known for our ability to “rough it”—complained endlessly about mosquitoes, dirty cabins, and inedible meals. However, these moments helped us bond together, and by the time we got back to school, we had grown closer as a class. By recognizing the benefits of a difficult situation, we will make the most of our years and be able to look back on all of our great achievements.

Second, and one of the most important aspects of my years at SIA, is living a life of service. Not just the kind that is written down on a form and receives recognition at the end of the year. I am referring to the ideal that by serving others, we can change the world!  Always serve! Always look for ways to give in every interaction—with strangers and also with people you know. You must find a way to serve, as only through service and sacrifice can we become great! The Class of 2016 has found their own ways to serve, and I’m talking about service beyond our required internships. From the Bread of Life Food Drive to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, from Habitat for Humanity to the Wounded Warrior Project, we have looked beyond our own lives to help others, enriching ourselves and others in the larger community.

Finally, I want to share my thoughts on leadership since we are given so many opportunities to lead here at SIA. Whether in the classroom, on stage, or on the playing fields, we all have honed our skills of leadership. As president John F. Kennedy once noted, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” During my time in each division—Lower, Middle, and Upper School—I was able to model my leadership style by learning from so many dedicated and caring teachers, coaches, and captains. Some lead from the front, others from the rear. Still others show leadership without saying a word. Over the past four years, the baton of leadership has been passed to us, and our learning has been enhanced through our roles as team captains, as leads in plays, as House representatives, as SAC leaders, and as club founders and presidents. In following our passions, we have led others. Leadership then is an integral part of who we are. And since we are Tigers, we have learned to be strong, fierce and patient leaders.

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Now, to the Class of 2016, commencement marks a new chapter in our lives. A chapter looked upon with anticipation, nervousness, and a whole lot of excitement. In the fall, we will all be off to our respective colleges and universities, ready and prepared for the challenges to come. I know we are prepared to serve, to lead, and to create positive change in the world. I hope to see each of you on the roads you choose to follow. After all we have been through together, we are connected to one another forever. Do not forget where you come from and when you get where you are going, do not forget to turn back around. Remember that the Academy is the home from which we all came.

What is Scholarship?

By: Trip M. ’17

Hello everyone! It is my job to discuss the idea of scholarship and it is out my sense of duty to the school, and not Ms. Crig’s Taser that she carries, that I have the pleasure of writing for you today. In preparing this article, the big quandary that I was faced with (apart from vague Taser threats, of course) was what is scholarship? And I think the issue is that the term scholarship is grotesquely and incorrectly defined in the sense that it is too often coupled with someone being smart. Even intelligence in this day and age is misinterpreted. If someone does well on a math test does that immediately make them smart? Is intellect that one-dimensional? Well, the math test may win you a hug from Justin Almeida, but can school assessments validate or invalidate someone as a scholar? Why was one of the world’s most famous geniuses, Albert Einstein, a sub-par student? (I am so sorry, I had to put at least one golf reference in.) So, what is it then that defines the scholar?

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In order to attempt to explain this idea of scholarship, let me tell you a story. The year is 2006; I am a bold and inquisitive six-year-old. My mother, sister, and grandparents are on a vacation in Rome. Our destination is the Vatican and I have the odd misconception that the pope will be waiting there for us. Well, before we can meet his exaltedness, we have to actually get there. The whole family piles onto a city bus that we just assume is going to the Vatican. And let me tell you, I am killing the style game as always, donning a mustard yellow shirt, dark mesh shorts, and socks with sandals. And to top it all off, a jean-blue Fannie pack. I know. I am basically the younger incarnation of an elderly woman named Bertha. So, Bertha and the family squeeze onto an overcrowded bus with commuters, gypsies, and many other tourists. Looking back at it, we are probably the most shameless tourists that Rome has ever seen. But back to the bus. It seems that every stop takes at least 15-20 minutes, and with the patience of a six-year-old, this city bus basically becomes a torture chamber. After about two hours, we decide to hop off the horrid bus, and look up to see a wonderfully tall and impressive building: but it happened to be our hotel. Yep. I spent two hours in a crammed bus doing nothing with half of the family being robbed by the time we got off, and in the end, we are exactly where we started. But what does this mean? How is it relevant? Well, perhaps that’s just what scholarship is.

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Scholarship is not about the result you achieve; it’s about the journey and the approach. Academic excellence ought to be measured in one’s diligence and attitude, not the result. So, if you take a Platis’ test and you don’t get the result you wanted, but you know that you gave your all, everything you had…that is scholarship. If you wanted to know the end to my story, my most beloved bus ride did not actually prove to be in vain. The next day, we oversaw a ceremony in which the pope did make an appearance, and now that I look back, perhaps my exasperating experience only strengthened the bond between my family and me. Similarly, the academic journey of the scholar, although not always successful, will build from past experience, until habitually sound academic practice becomes academic excellence! But it all has to start somewhere. And that somewhere is the determined mindset and educational insatiability that embodies the heart of a true scholar.