The Class of 2016….a little like ‘French Tea’

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On the evening of Thursday, June 9, Westside School gathered in our beautiful theater to celebrate and honor the eighth grade students – our Class of 2016.

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With decorations from our sixth grade class, beautiful flower arrangements, and hundreds of well-wishers the twenty-two graduates officially became the first class to graduate from Westside School’s permanent home.

Kate Mulligan

This year’s graduation speaker, Susannah Muench, reflected upon the 180 days a year, five days a week, 90 minutes a day she has spent with the students over the last two years, noting “if you add that up it is 16,200 min or 270 hours. If you know anything about this class, that is a lot of time.”


This class has a very special place in my heart. They have taught me a lot. First and foremost they have taught me to laugh, to laugh at myself, to laugh at them and to not take things so seriously.

When I was little my favorite dinner my mother made my sister and me was something called French Tea. As I got older I realized French Tea was actually little bits of everything we had in the fridge, but put together and arranged neatly on a plate, which made it different and special.   

The Class of 2016 is a lot like French Tea. They are an eclectic assortment of personalities and traits, but each student is unique and when you put them all together they really are an amazing class to teach.  

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Connor is full of surprises, from his beautiful voice to his creative writing. Don’t count him out.

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Karl is all about perseverance and dedication, just look at all his ski racing medals. When he puts his mind to something, you know he will make it happen.

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Kieran’s quiet on the outside but always scheming up something in his head, whether it’s helping out others or thinking of ways to revolutionize the system.

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What I appreciate about Ben, other than his amazing intellect, is his dry sense of humor and those rare moments when he breaks out into a smile. I look forward to seeing his inventions.

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Kovit is solid gold, funny, smart, and astute. You can always rely on him to make it real.  

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Jordan has the biggest heart, she feels so deeply and has more empathy and compassion than anyone I know.  

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Olivia really is a lot like Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz), she is good natured and kind but feisty too. She is going to make the world a better place.  

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Angie is wise beyond her years. She has a quiet grace, yet don’t cross her because she is one tough cookie.

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Will is not afraid to speak his mind, he has a razor sharp wit that flies under the radar. He is a leader in the making.

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If you have ever seen Jac around young kids you know he has a heart of gold and the ability to put everyone at ease. He’s also a famous cook, just check him out on YouTube.

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Jamie is an inspiration; she has had a hard road this year but her strength and courage are a lesson to us all.

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What I admire most about Nate is his passion, for  drumming, for shoes, for fashion and also for standing up for what he believes in and for what’s right.

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Justin is a bundle of energy, drives you crazy and makes you laugh at the same time.  He doesn’t believe it but I will miss him too next year.

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Juliet is good at everything from writing to basketball. She is humble almost to a fault, but if I was ever stranded on a desert island I would want her on my team.

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Riley came to Westside School two years ago looking like a deer in headlights, but he has grown leaps and bounds. He is a solid student and a fine young man.

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Helen is kind to everyone, yet a perfectionist to herself. I love reading anything she writes, she will be as famous as Bethany Mota one day.  

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Callum is a rock. He is one of those quiet leaders, who seems to be good at everything and other students naturally respect and look up to.  

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Everyone knows Sarah is a beautiful dancer, but she is so much more. Thoughtful, kind, smart, but not afraid to throw on a tutu and get a little crazy.

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Levi is as feisty as they come; you never quite know what to expect but he makes it real and speaks the truth.   

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Isaac was new to us this year, but his quiet, solid presence and gentle smile was a wonderful addition to our class.

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Henry is so much more than a superstar athlete. He doesn’t always like to show it but he is an amazing writer and a compassionate friend. And he has the best last name ever.

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Bianca epitomizes the saying don’t judge a book by its cover. She might be petite in size but she is a powerhouse, not only for her black belt in karate but ability to be completely herself.

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Life is a series of steps forwards and sometimes backwards, and don’t let anyone tell you different.  

When you get to high school and even beyond there will be people, teachers, friends maybe even family who will question what you believe in and who you are or want to be.

My challenge to you is to take risks and question everything and everyone.

Question what your teachers tell you, question what your friends  think is cool,  question what others tell you is important, question The Feed.

Find your own path, be willing to believe in yourself and take risks to stand up for it

Remember Westside School and the teachers and friends who gave you the confidence to be true to yourself no matter what.

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Graduates, we wish you nothing but great success and happiness. The door is open anytime, and we sincerely hope you’ll visit often.

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