Upper School Principal Howard Barton's Blog - Looking to the future

This Tuesday the Junior Class participated in our annual Ring Luncheon at Commanders. For most of the juniors, I would say, the luncheon was simply a chance to get away from campus for a while, to eat a fancy meal in a fancy place. It seems that the girls look forward to dressing up, while the boys begrudgingly try to remember how to tie a tie. And of course they would get their rings. Nothing more than that.
Fortunately, two senior leaders, Jeremy Meyers, the President of the Student Senate, and Alysia Iglesias, President of the Senior Class, attended the luncheon and their words of wisdom and advice helped the juniors understand that this was about more than fine dining and nice clothes.

Jeremy provided some history of the ring itself, which goes back to Mr. Boothby, the first head of school. He pointed out that “on the stone of the ring is the school seal which includes the founding date of our school, 1929, the initials of our school, MPCDS, the olive branch which denotes the passing of traditions from one class to another and from one generation to another. Also on the seal is the open book. On the book of learning are two Greek letters phi and lambda which mean philosophy and love. One the side of the ring you will see a torch, the torch of learning. May it ever burn within you.” More important than this history, however, is what Jeremy said about what the ring means to him. He told the juniors that a year ago when he put his on at the Ring Luncheon, he didn’t give it much thought except to think it looked cool. Now, however, “the ring represents my time at Country Day, my legacy. It represents all the friends I have made, and some I have lost along the way. It represents every paper, PowerPoint, and movie I have made, no matter if I got C’s or A’s on the assignment. It represents my football career, and my not so good baseball career which only lasted a season. It represents the struggle of doing all my homework on Sunday night, and the sweet taste of victory when I finished it.” He advised them to “Cherish your time at Country Day, and let the ring be a keepsake of everything you have done here. Keep it in a box, or wear it every day. Let it be a symbol of your legacy here, and a reminder of the legacy you will make for yourselves when you leave.”

Alyce also provided some straight forward advice for senior year:

“First, don’t expect it to be easy. You will have a lot of work and that isn’t a bad thing by any means but managing your workload and college applications makes first semester tough. And don’t think the work stops after first semester because it doesn’t. I’m not trying to scare you or make senior year seem bad, because it’s not. But the notion that senior year is easy is a misconception. Second, the college admissions process is long and stressful. But if I’ve learned anything from the college admissions process, from both personal experience and from some of my best friends’ experiences, I promise you, it will all work out and you will end up at the right place. You may not get into what you think your first choice is, but that’s okay. I know right now that concept seems foreign but it really is the truth. All of you are going to end up somewhere that is perfect for you. Third and most importantly, make the most of the time that you have left. Start the club you always wanted to start, bring back a tradition, or start a new tradition. Whatever is its, make memories with your friends and with your class.”

Alyce finished with one last point to the rising senior class:

“Responsibility is a huge part of senior year and really being able to handle responsibility is what being a senior means. Some of you are probably disappointed that I said responsibility is what makes you a senior, but it’s the truth. The responsibility of the Country Day community rests on all of your shoulders. It is your responsibility to set the tone for the 2016-2017 school year. The teachers, the middle schoolers, the lower schoolers, and even the parents are looking to your class to set an example. Many of you will fill leadership roles next year, all of you will have kindergarten buddies next year, and both carry equal responsibility. It is your responsibility to make Country Day better than it was last year and better than it was this year.”

As principal, I realized that I could not have said it better, that these two seniors have in the last year gained not just knowledge but wisdom. For the junior class, the Ring Luncheon marks the beginning of the leadership role we expect them to take. Next week is Field Day, which is recent years has become an event organized and run by the junior class. Juniors are in charge of each event and each of the sixteen student teams made up of students from k through 12. I look forward to seeing them succeed.

Howard Barton Upper School Principal
300 Park Road, Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 837-5204
Established in 1929, Metairie Park Country Day School is a coed private school for New Orleans area students in early childhood through Grade 12. From the elementary grades through upper school, the care and cultivation of each child comes to life in our exciting academic program, creative arts, and competitive athletic offerings.

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