The Keys to Success

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My name is Elizabeth Carleton. I was very honored to have my essay selected to be the speech at eighth grade graduation; many thanks to Ms. Arlene for helping me to polish my speech. I have been going to FMS since third grade and it has been a wonderful time. I am excited to start ninth grade at Bishop Gorman High School in the fall. I will be taking forensics and hope to continue refining my oratory technique. I also hope to join the musical theatre program and expand my recent interest in classical singing. Much gratitude to FMS for helping me to begin my journey!

The Keys to Success

The purpose of a key in its most literal sense is to open a lock. A key to success can unlock many different things for many different people, depending on their unique perception of success. For some, success means money. For others, it’s helping those less fortunate. For others yet, it means having a family.

I have already acheived some success in my young life. I experienced success when I rode a bike for the first time as a child, and again recently when I mastered the French song Dirait-on. In between, I was the school winner for the AMC-8 School Mathematics Competition, solved the Rubik’s Cube, and have never lost a game of Risk. These successes, though small in the grand scheme of the world and even in my life, have helped motivate me to learn more and reach higher. Small successes are to life as caffeine is to mornings; they help us to get up and move.

Success is important because it adds a sense of fullfilment to life and enables us to go wherever we want to. I believe that true success is having the empowerment and the knowledge to leave your mark on this world, like a thumbprint on moist earth. Everyone has goals, and success can mean either acheiving those goals or finding new goals aong the way.

Picture life as a maze, an intricate, constantly changing maze. Some find contentment in following the path of wisdom laid down by history, while others are not satisfied until they have become a trailblazer and found an innovative way to navigate the maze. As long as one enjoys both the journey and the destination, both are wonderful. At intervals, there are choices we must make that will shape our paths. Sometimes, not every path is open to us. That’s when we need a key. Almost six years ago, my maze took a sharp and unexpected turn: my family had to move halfway across the country. I had never lived outside of the small-town Midwest in my life, and I was a little shell-shocked. Luckily, I stumbled upon the small metaphorical garden of Foothills Montessori School.

This school is different from other schools. It’s not all about test scores, it’s about — as Ms. Erica says — learning to understand. FMS has instilled in all of us the joy of learning and given the tools and the knowledge we need to have successful careers in high school, in college, and in life.

In our early years, the Montessori method nurtured our imaginations and helped us grow from toddlers to inquisitive children. As we progressed into elementary school, not only were we taught fundamental knowledge about the world around us, but our curious minds were indulged with the refrain, “Go research it!”. In middle school, many of the Montessori materials became less fundamental, but our school continued to differ from most. Ms. Erica constantly strove to improve her math lessons to an even higher level, and she always had interesting demonstrations in science and invigorating reenactments in history. In Ms. Arlene’s English class, we learned so much more than grammar and spelling. We read culturally significant books and discussed every aspect, relating them to current and historical events. In both classes, we were taught critical thinking skills and learned how to apply our knowledge to the world around us.

At this school, teacher and student form a unique bond based on mutual respect and appreciation, and I can’t imagine a more secure and supportive environment for student-on-student interaction. Out of these bonds, we forged keys: the keys to success.

I have been attending this school since third grade, and I have watched my peers and myself grow from uncertain and tentative children to confident young men and women who are ready for whatever the next bend in our theoretical mazes brings. In this unique learning environment, the teachers and staff strove to help us recognize our path and gave us the neccesary keys to help us go where we like in our mazes of life.

As former U. S. Representative Solomon Ortiz said, “Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.” That could never be more true than it is here at FMS. You have all shaped my path in ways that I never imagined possible. I will always look on my time here as one of the most enjoyable and enriching times of my life.

Today, my fellow eighth graders and I have reached a critical milestone: the metamorphosis from middle school to high school. Here, our paths part — perhaps for good. We must plunge on down the maze of life, in all likelihood meeting with thorns aplenty. But this wonderful school has given us — and we have given each other — the keys we need for the next phase of our lives. I know that everyone on this stage has the knowledge and the determination to unlock their success. I will always remember my outstanding teachers and the amazing group of people graduating with me today. Thank you for the keys.
Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.
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