December 2018 Newsletter

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Forgetting to breathe

The other day I was listening to a senior's quintessential "I'm so busy I don't know what to do with myself" monologue and I found myself asking a seemingly bizarre question:

"Do you ever stop to breathe?"

Of course, the simple answer to that question was yes (she was, in fact, alive), but what I meant was:

"Do you ever stop to notice that you're breathing?"

She paused, then shook her head no.

A few days prior, after my students listened to a guided meditation for three minutes, they said it was impossible to sit still for that long, let alone notice their breath.

Pascal argued that “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I would like to add, "for three minutes."

School, study, extracurricular, work, babysit, sleep, repeat, with Instagramming and Snapchatting to fill the time between. Little time to eat, much less breathe. And yet they manage to pull As and Bs, star in the school play and lead the marching band--never taking the time to notice the breath, the most fundamental human action and the one that's keeping us alive.

As a mentor, my biggest concern is once they're adults their default setting of "I'm so busy" will translate to "My life is out of control." At least 75% of health ailments are stress-related, and one of the best ways to combat stress is regular meditation.

The benefits of quiet contemplation/meditation/prayer/insert like term have been well-documented since the dawn of humans, but perhaps it is no more critical than today, when it's harder than ever to be bored.

So please remind your kids that more important than any AP score or college acceptance letter or band competition rating is the simple act of taking, noticing, and appreciating a single breath.

Looking for a place to go to learn more about this topic? Check out the Michigan Collaborative for Mindfulness in Education. Also, Headspace and Calm are great apps for guided meditation.

Here's a blog post on a different topic that has me thinking: Let's Raise Kind Kids

--Mr. Hughes

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Alumni Interview - Caitlyn Cooper, c/o 2018

On November 26th, 2018 grad Caitlyn Cooper spoke to seniors about her first semester at Kalamazoo College.

Some highlights:

What's it like to live with a stranger? Not easy but worth it.

How many papers do you write in college? 2-3 per week.

How much reading do you have every week? 10-15 hours.

How do you deal with Senioritis? Find ways to motivate yourself.

What do you love about Kalamazoo College? I can take whatever classes I want this year.

Here's the full interview.

Thurston Updates

Important Dates:

subscribe to the calendar here

12/3: 10th-grade meeting (Advisory)

12/10: 11th-grade meeting (Advisory)

12/12: Info session for prospective applicants (6-7:30 @ Pierce)

1/25: Application deadline for 2019-20

3/28-3/29: Hope College overnight visit (Juniors only)

4/9: SAT (Juniors only)

4/11: Albion College visit (Juniors only)

5/23: Honors Dinner

5/30: Kalamazoo College visit (Juniors only)

5/30: Honors Night

6/3: Eagle Scholars Program Orientation

6/3: AP Kickoff night

Study sessions are now running Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the Media Center alongside the Tutoring Center. Check in with Ms. Radecki or Ms. Thomas to connect with a tutor (or a tutee)

9th graders have begun planning service projects for Thurston and the Redford community. Details forthcoming.

9th graders are also crafting proposals for new clubs at Thurston. Look for more info about a debate club, a beauty club, a video game club, and a buffet club. Yes, you read that last one correctly. As I understand it, students meet once a week at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Acceptance letters are rolling in for our seniors from Wayne State, EMU, CMU, Northern Michigan, University of Findlay, Ohio Northern, and others. Still waiting to hear from U of M, MSU, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Stanford, Boston University, New York University, and The University of Chicago.

Our first ever overnight college trip to Hope College was quite the experience. Mahalia, Deja, Jamesa, Destini, Kelsea, Shannon and Zahra represented themselves and the program well. Special thanks to Ms. Bomphray for coming along.

And you don't have to take it from me. Here is Shannon's reflection:

My trip to Hope was very insightful. You never really hear much about these small schools, but to see how much effort and hard work they put into their school, their students, and making sure their students feel at home despite the lack of exposure was amazing. I initially came with the thought that because it was Christian school, you had to be Christian to attend, but no. They never forced that on us or their students who attend there now. The staff, students (and even squirrels!) were some of the nicest people I’ve encountered to date. They were always willing to help, smiling, and willing to give us sound, extensive advice. Their campus is very easy to navigate with street names that make it 10x easier. Downtown Holland is no more than a mile away which makes for a quick, perfect night out and nice chance at getting a more mixed social group, not one that consists of just people from your school. The Admissions Rep that worked with us was very informative about her work and how the process in which our applications are submitted works. Being able to sit down, talk, and ask questions with a professor of the field I want to go on was a very enlightening experience. I got to hear a little about how the professors teach, the speed of the class, and how AP classes and credits works there. Not to mention, the author of our AP Psychology book teaches there (how cool!)! All in all, I had an amazing time. Our drive there and back was nothing short of comfortable and I enjoyed the company of the people I went along with. If it were up to me, I’d do this all over again.


100% of proceeds go toward Eagle Scholars Award winners' college education. These are students who have gone above and beyond the requirements of the program. This is a tax-deductible donation.

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Pierce Updates

6th Grade ESP

Students have begun to focus on grammar and will do so intermittently throughout the school year. 6th Grade Scholars are being introduced to the program No Red Ink to help them build their skills. This adaptive learning program has been used by the ESP for three year and students have enjoyed great success because of it. Please encourage students to work independently on their assignments as they often have about four to five assignments per week.

The Eagle Scholars Leadership Team is seeking applicants for the three openings it has for 6th-grade members. Please apply here!

7th Grade ESP

The Eagle Scholars Program was treated to a great presentation in honor of Veterans Day by retired Army Specialist Donald Copperstone, father of 7th-grade Scholar Kristian Copperstone. Specialist Copperstone gave students an in-depth understanding of what it meant to serve the country and be in harm's way each and every day. Students had the opportunity to ask questions, see his uniform and equipment, and see pictures of his base while stationed overseas. The Eagle Scholars Program thanks Specialist Copperstone for his service and knowledge.

8th Grade ESP

8th Grade Scholars are doing well, they have consistently been setting the example for younger Scholars and have earned well deserved praise by their teachers. It's great to see them blossom into the leaders they are meant to be. Many 8th grade Scholars have been participating in various fall sports and have managed to remain engaged in class and on top of their priorities. The Eagle Scholars Program is extremely impressed with their dedication! Great Job 8th Grade!

General ESP

The National Junior Honor's Society Induction Ceremony held on November 8th was a huge success! Presidents Gabby Clotfelter and Melody Nelson both gave great addresses on what it means to be a great citizen and scholar. Vice President Josephine Gentner also made remarks, along with Mr. Parsons. The Eagle Scholars Program wishes congratulations to all new and returning NJHS members!

The Eagle Scholars Program is accepting applicants for the 2019-2020 academic year. If you know of someone who would make a great addition to the program please have them apply here! The Admissions Committee is looking forward to a robust new class of Scholars! The Eagle Scholars Program will be holding an Information Session for all prospective students and families on December 12, from 6:00 pm-7: 30 pm.

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence."-Abigail Adams

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