Our Stories

“Tel” Milton: The Memories and Artifacts that Shape Identity

July 8, 2022 by Arielle Derby (Faculty and Staff) Lisa Schopf (Faculty and Staff) Melissa Davis (Faculty and Staff)

The following remarks were shared at Milton’s Toast to the Graduates of the class of 2022 by Middle School Director Lisa Schopf, Elementary School Director Arielle Derby, and Early Childhood Education Director Melissa Davis.

When we were in Israel we visited tels, mounds of earth that held within them layer upon layer of different civilizations, each holding different artifacts of the people, experiences, and lives that defined and helped create the hill that eventually emerged. As we have prepared for your graduation, you reflected on the artifacts and memories that helped define the layers that contributed to who you are. In each year of your education up until now you have added to your knowledge, your experiences, your relationships, your identity, forming the whole of who you are now, and you can look forward to continuing to accumulate the layers that comprise your whole being. And even as you grow and add to who you are and what you accomplish and learn, you will still hold within you the layers that comprised your early childhood years, your elementary school years and your middle school years. We want to each share a bit about those layers.

By Melissa Davis, Director of Early Childhood

In Early Childhood on South Campus you learned how to express your thinking and learning using a variety of materials from the Sadnah. Some of you may remember making wooden sculptures, drawing self portraits, studying what it means to be a Hero, celebrating different authors each month during Author Studies, acting out the Bible stories, creating a personal Haggadah, creating a model house during the Bayit Unit, or sewing a bird for each other’s student spotlight. Some of you wrote and performed original plays about mountain gorillas after studying endangered animals and watched and sketched the growth of the sunflowers on our playscape. We watched the playscape transform from a parking lot to a wonderland and traveled to North Campus for recess while it was under construction. We had Reading Buddies, Field Day, field trips to the Matzah Factory and Politics and Prose. We celebrated Yom Mayim and the 100th Day of School. Through it all, you learned how to be capable and competent as well as how to collaborate, compromise, and cooperate as you worked in committees and gained your independence and confidence. It has been a great honor and privilege to watch you all blossom into the amazing people you are today (some who I have known since Ohr Kodesh days). I can’t wait to see all the places you will go.

By Arielle Derby, Director of Elementary School

During your Elementary years, you blasted off into space, toured the 50 Nifty, explored the world, and went back in time to our country’s birth. You walked in the sandals of our Biblical ancestors and delved deeply into our holy texts and traditions. You used your mathematical skills to design floor plans and furniture for our newly renovated North Campus, plan nutritious SNAP budget meals, and grapple with challenging problems. You navigated your neighborhoods, toured Israel, and shared Shabbat traditions, all b’Ivrit. You compellingly argued that the government should protect State Parks as part of our school-wide election project when you were in 3rd grade…and you’ve been rabble-rousing for justice ever since. We couldn’t be prouder of you and it fills my heart with joy to see you now, confident and tall and brilliant and poised to take on the world.

By Lisa Schopf, Director of Middle School

In Middle School, you continued to build on your earlier foundations, adding new experiences, relationships, and knowledge that inspired and empowered you to embrace your part in the world and to exert an impact through your learning, perspective, and agency. You discovered new possibilities and interests and forged deeper connections during Immersive Learning Week. You embraced the freedom and joy of the outdoors during Mifgashim and you extended your skills, creativity, and relationships in Mechubar each week as seventh graders. You developed as critical thinkers, creative and powerful writers, innovative problem-solvers, persistent and thoughtful researchers, and curious life-long learners. You grew as Biblical and Talmudic scholars, historians of the ancient more recent past, scientists, innovators, UN delegates, literary critics, speakers of multiple languages, persistent mathematicians, and- always- engaged citizens. You connected with each other, with your heritage, and with the land and people of Israel on your Israel trip this year. And even in just the last few weeks of eighth grade, you worked together as a grade to create an art installation for the Laufer Family Middle School Commons, ran our incredibly fun Neon Party (including a mincha service), worked cooperatively even in competition at our Maccabiah, and found ways to come together ever more as you approached your last days at Milton.

You carry your younger selves inside of you just as you are inspired by all the possibilities on the horizon ahead of you. We are honored to have been part of your journey of growth and discovery, and we hope that your future holds ever more for you to seize, imagine, and create as you continue to build upon the foundations you developed at Milton.