Dr. Coffman firmly believes that Prairie is made special by the people within the school community. He thanked the graduates honored during commencement exercises in the spring of 2019 for their contributions, and reiterated the importance of interpersonal connection.
These three groups — students, faculty, and families — all work hard and sacrifice to be a part of this community. While the buildings here at Prairie are awesome, what makes us [the school that we are] is the people. Together, we all form a team that is aspirational, inspirational, and unique. I am grateful for all of you, and what you bring to Prairie each day.
Relationships matter. As we all know, life is not a destination, it is a journey. A series of quests. Moments of joy and tragedy, boredom and reflection that intertwine to weave the fabric of our lives. And what makes both the trials and celebrations worth it and meaningful are the people with whom we experience them. Your parents and siblings, your friends, your teachers, your colleagues, your teammates and your extended family, all share your adventure and are what make it interesting and valuable. These people are important; cherish them, and don’t take them for granted. Assume positive intent, and welcome the quirkiness in individuality. What fun would it be if they didn’t annoy you every once in awhile?
In his speech to students entering Middle School, Dr. Coffman discussed the similarities between the American Experience and Middle School – thinks like yearning for individual freedom while desiring to be part of a greater whole.
In middle school you have the same dual goals of working towards individual autonomy, and figuring out what activities you will join or create.
I urge you to try something new, even if your friends are not doing it. Middle school is all about trying new things. Sign up for tennis, golf, or swimming; sing, play an instrument, join the math and reading clubs. Try everything – and slowly figure out three or four things you really enjoy doing, so that you are ready to dive fully into them in high school.
You might hear someone tell you to specialize in one thing – they are mistaken – middle school should involve a full range of activities.
In his speech to students entering Upper School, Dr. Coffman discussed the importance of growth, asking questions, and doing the work.
We all get stronger and more independent through effort. Our brains are like muscles and we need to work hard to help them grow. I hope you will always seek out the challenging classes and co-curricular activities in high school.
Remember that you are responsible for your success, and it is your job to ask for help if you need it. Show up. Make eye contact. Do the work. Be prepared. Meet the deadlines. You are not a child anymore and if you don’t want to be treated like a child you need to act like a young adult.