It’s so fun to see you all spiffed up in your new kicks, sporting a new backpack and some new digs on your first day of middle school. I know you were nervous, trying to hide it, but your inability to locate the third pocket in your new backpack, twice, gave you away.
It’s okay. Starting something new is scary sometimes. Don’t worry, everyone else is nervous too, so that’s makes things a little more fair on the first day of middle school. You’ll do great.
But that’s not why I’m writing this letter. There’s some things you need to know about middle school, that I want to help you understand, as you embark on this journey.
The social landscape is going to make sweeping changes as you travel between classes, through cafeteria lunch tables, and into familiar groups of friends. Enjoy it, work through the tough parts, and, for the love, be a leader.
Because of this, there’s something else I want you to do today: Be kind to the new kid.
This year, two elementary schools are merging into one and you are going to see some new faces. While it’s always an expectation that you treat everyone nicely, today I want you to toss a little kindness towards the new kids.
Because, there’s also going to be some kids who don’t know a soul.
And to them: Be kind.
Your smile, your joke, and your including gesture will make a tough day, a little easier.
You see, by the time I started middle school, I was on my seventh school district in three states, with the eighth district and fourth state looming on the horizon, a mere two months after I set foot in my first middle school.
I was always the new kid.
Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t the military or a swanky job that kept my family on the move.
It was poverty. It was joblessness. It was a hope for something better that always uprooted us and set us off in search of greener pastures.
But it always ended up the same…more poverty, more unrest.
In elementary school, kids were a little more forgiving on the status symbols that will soon dictate the social ladder of adolescence.
You’ve got shiny new things today, not because of anything you did, but because you were fortunate enough to be born into a family of college-educated, upwardly-mobile parents who can afford to put you in new things.
I know you won’t take those things for granted, or use it to make someone else feel unworthy, but you may witness that.
You may see someone, just like your mom, without new clothes, or a new backpack, navigating the halls of a new school because her mom thinks there’s something better here, in this town, than in the previous six. You may hear someone make a remark about her lunchbox, or her jeans, or the hole in shoes. And when you do, I want you to be kind.
I understand that it may be easier to not say anything, ignore the rude remark, and move on. But you were not born into this world to make the easy choices.
You are called to treat others as you want to be treated. You have gifts, talents, that were bestowed upon you that you are to use to represent light in a dark world.
So when you see the new kid, be kind.
Because, at the end of the day, your kindness will teach you lessons that can never be learned in your classroom.
Godspeed, son. Godspeed.