Our MS Assembly last week found us reflecting on what it is to be principled leaders and citizens within the context of the school community and beyond.
The alignment of this theme with the delivery of 12 outstanding addresses by members of the Middle School Student Leadership Council was more than a happy coincidence. Our Middle School leaders, after nominating themselves and winning the endorsement of their teachers, spoke beautifully about their vision for what they might achieve in their capacity as heads of the respective committees in the SLC. I couldn’t help but notice that the elevated tone of our students’ speeches, particularly their optimism and energy, were in stark contrast to the tone of the current US Election debates. Hilary and Donald might have learned a thing or two had they been fortunate enough to be in attendance.
Our student leaders were campaigning for the positions of Chairperson, Assistant Chair-person, and the director positions on the three committees that the Student Leadership council will oversee: the Events Committee, the Lion’s Spirit committee and the Research & Publications Committee. Our Events Committee will be the driving force behind future assemblies and other Middle School wide activities. Our Lion’s Spirit Committee will find opportunities to raise school spirit by celebrating success, and gathering support for the wide variety of activities going on around the school. Finally, our Research & Publications Committee will work on promoting what is going on in the school and leading on the publication of helpful resources for the Middle School community.
Along with the impressive tenor of the campaign speeches, the manner in which the audience engaged with the speakers during the assembly was equally uplifting. No doubt, this was aided by the thought-provoking address given by Ms. Rose to open the assembly. Speaking on the topic of principled citizenship, Ms. Rose expounded on the essential role that each individual plays in a democratic community. Her message was simple:
“Unlike a kingdom in the middle ages, where the crown made all the decisions and had all the power—you have the power to decide who you can trust to make those decisions for us…This is not entertainment, but student government!”
After the students made their pitch for the respective roles, our guest speaker, Fr. Sacha Bermudez Goldman, formerly the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service for Australia and Asia, spoke of the need for us to see ourselves as leaders and people of influence. Fr. Sacha reminded us that through our own principled actions and words, we can play a role in sharing the democracy with others less fortunate.
Our guest speaker, whose humble and gentle manner seemed to engage the students’ full attention, spoke of our connection with those currently seeking to cross the Mediterranean from Syria and other war-torn countries. The majority of us in this International School, he said, are not Belgian nationals, and that can help us come to empathize with and reach out to others who are also seeking to find a place in a foreign land. Fr. Sacha reminded us that many are looking towards Europe with the hope that they might get to live in a principled democracy, the very same thing we practice in our student elections.
It was hoped that the assembly left us a little more motivated to take the democratic privilege and responsibility of voting in the student elections with both hands. Given that we had a 100% turn out to vote, this certainly appears to have been the case.
By Mr. Prowse, MS Dean of Students