From the Desk of the Head of School- January 18, 2019
I still vividly remember my fourth grade spelling bee. We were spread around the playground outside and the teacher would walk from student to student asking us to spell words that varied from the three letter gimme to the fourteen letter behemoth. As was my way as a newly minted double-digit aged young boy, I was overconfident and misspelled the five letter commonly used word (I can’t remember what it was now, but know deep in my heart if only I had paid attention I’d be admiring my 4th grade spelling bee ribbon framed in my office today…) and poof, my dreams of bee dominance ended. This experience - and my time as a fourth grade homeroom teacher that taught geography - means I will always be so proud of those students who step out on the limbs that are the school spelling bee and geography bee.
Over these last couple of weeks, Harding Academy has crowned new spelling Bee (Neko Mannes, 5th Grade) and geography Bee (Charlotte Mikos, 5th Grade) champions. Overall, twenty students represented their grade level at these two competitions. We met in the Henderson Theatre and watched as they put themselves out there for all to see and did their absolute best to capture the crown. Beyond the spelling prowess or map recall skills necessary for these events, these competitors needed to be calm under pressure, learned to trust their answers, focused on themselves and not the crowd, and were gracious when the buzzer sounded. For eighteen of our students they did just that - shook hands with those still in the competition, headed up to their seats in the stands and received the well wishes of their classmates with a wry smile and there’s-always-next-year kind of attitude.
The applause after each round and for our winners was genuine because I think they felt as I do - proud of their friends for performing so well. It is a life skill in and of itself to be genuinely proud of a friend’s success. Unfortunately, more and more in our society, one’s success is not a source of pride for others but an opportunity to diminish that accomplishment in order to make one look better. Not at Harding Academy. We celebrated in that theatre together. And we are all so proud of Neko and Charlotte and wish them luck as they work through the regional competitions over the next few weeks.