Eighth-Grade Wisdom

A well-loved Inly tradition is the 8th-grade graduation speech. At the 2018 Inly graduation ceremony, 24 students stood before teachers, family, and friends and reflected on their time at Inly. Each speech was a lovely display of growth and wisdom. Below is an excerpt of one graduate’s speech.

Touch All the Lines

by Wes Fennel

When I first visited Inly, it was for half of the day. I had come from my town’s public school. From playing dodgeball and nailing the gym teacher, and running the dreaded mile. Where we would switch seats on the bus, and see if the driver would notice.

Things were different at Inly. I loved the interactions with my teachers, who were less intimidating with their first names. I missed having more private connections with my peers, though — it’s hard to do that with a teacher sitting at your lunch table.  I was excited to come to school and play. We had organized classes, but I learned about geography by putting little flags into boards, and I was able to go have a snack or jump on a trampoline after I got my work done.

In science, we ventured outside and observed what we saw. We went on class walks through Sunflower Hill to learn about birds while actually looking at them.  While my friends from my old school were annoyed with their homework, I was engaged and making connections to other parts of the curriculum, talking about how science relates to math and math to history.

By seventh grade I helped to write a class constitution. I went rowing. I helped run a pizza business. I was learning to look at my values. My town friends were doing as their teachers told them to, whether they agreed with it or not. If I was confused about something that the teachers did, I could ask them about it. I could challenge myself to come up with a better solution.  While I was doing math in a kitchen with a ton of pizza boxes, my friends from town were asking each other for the answers to that problem they were stuck on.

It’s like at soccer practice. When doing sprints up and down the soccer field, every five yards turning around and touching the goal line again, I always touch the line. Not because I am scared of what my coach would say, but because If I don’t touch the line, I’m only cheating myself.  So most of the time we do sprints, I come in last. Yes, I am slower than a lot of the freshmen and sophomores I play with, obviously, but I am getting out what I put in, just like with Inly and the curriculum.

As my two years of middle school have passed, I have continued to grow and become ready for my next move.  Now I stand here today, ready to go, because Inly made me realize that to get the most out of something, I have to touch all of the lines.


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