2011-12 School Year opening assembly:

Good morning, and welcome to School year 2011-12, St. Gregory’s 32nd year!  It is great to see you all here, and may I say, you look terrific today– such great looking style– and I want to especially welcome our new students, including those from China,  Germany, and Alaska.   They came all this way to come to St. Gregory.   OUr student body is again over 300 students, and it feels great to have you all here.

Screening the following clip:

I loved this film, particularly its treatment of the students working together to create their film.   I realize that for me this movie, Super 8, had particular resonance, as it was about a group of 13 year olds in 1979, and I myself was 13 in 1979.

Super 8 the movie has great lessons and inspiration for us as learners, and I want to share with you my Super 8 takeaways, or Super 8 inspirations for a great school year of learning and growth:

  1. These students identified and followed their passion.  The main character did not want to go away to sports camp for the summer: his passion then was film and he pursued it vigorously!
  2. They used the best available contemporary technology to create and communicate.  They regularly went down to the camera store to see what was new, and they wanted to be informed and to use the best contemporary tools to accomplish their mission.
  3. They knew and appreciated the power and effect of visual and film/video communication and storytelling.  Writing and speaking are incredibly important skills, but we must always remember the value of visual communication and add to our repertoire of skills digital video storytelling.
  4. Students worked together effectively on a collaborative project, each with his or her own role and responsibility.  This was in many (not every) way a fine example of PBL: students had a purpose and a goal, they assigned roles and responsibilities carefully, they planned out their schedule, and they cared about quality of product.
  5. They were serious, purposeful, and not to be stopped.
  6. They were determined to achieve excellence,  and relentlessly focused on high quality.  In the opening of the clip above, the director sees the train coming and yells “production value!” This is a student who cares about his craftsmanship.
  7. They were inquisitive and skeptical, double-checking everything they were told, not taking anything for granted, refusing to accept something told them on authority.
  8. They were methodical, following the evidence where it took them until they learned the answer and discovered the truth.

Students, let’s all work hard to have a great year of hard work, learning, collaboration, following our passions, and great friendship,  using the best available and contemporary tools and technologies to craft products of high quality, much like the kids of Super 8.   Do please take care thoughto avoid any train wrecks.  Have a great day and a great year!