Let your conscience be your guide
In recent weeks, I have been working on a speech for the Rotary Club on the subject "The future is in your hands." Many long days speaking to the mirror and reading on the computer; many long hours studying rhetoric; and many long nights writing have allowed me to see the future differently — and the value our communities have in the development of our future dreams.
At the Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, how we put our hearts into what we do, the willingness with which we embrace learning and the world and our compassion for others are what drive our school community.
Where would we be without our teachers who work tirelessly to put out what sometimes amounts to 10 pages of recommendations for one student — not because it is their legal obligation to do so, but because they feel obliged within their hearts?
"I ask only that we follow the still, small voice within us. I ask that we serve, not our greed and vanity, not ourselves, but the good in all our hearts." — I used these words as my final passage to reflect upon the nature of our conscience and the nostalgia we all express to serve and be part of something greater than ourselves.
At MCAA, this is articulated in three facets: First, the arts, which pervade the curriculum and are essential to the development of our culture; second, our friendships and community in which we teach, listen and learn; and finally, our relationship with the community of Marysville and the world in general.
My advanced math teacher, Mr. Land, is often obscured at his desk beneath a mountain of plastic bottles. He saves them so they can be recycled. When I asked him why he hasn't recycled them all yet, he told me that he does not recycle them himself. He gives them to a homeless man who is grateful to recycle them, and I am sure Mr. Land feels honored to give them.
Our teachers' classes are not left as abstractions or worksheets but reflect a worldlier mindset. Mr. Yocum, a social studies teacher, once taught a current issues course and now incorporates it into his civics and economics courses.
Mrs. Alexich has an activism project for her English 11 course in which she asks the students to create a presentation about an issue that has touched their hearts: I remember doing projects on slavery, the Iraq war and the California prison system.
This expression goes beyond the faculty, however. This year, we had many freshmen deliver a speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in which they presented moving passages about their own dreams for the future.
I would like to ask parents to think of their children and the world today. I would like to ask them to think of how they can make changes: by donating life-saving supplies to Haiti rather than watching your favorite TV program, for instance.
In all your actions, I simply ask you to listen to your conscience.
Mark Runyan is a senior at the Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts. His column appears about every sixth week in Education.