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At RA, we begin each week with an all school assembly. It is tradition for every Grade 8 student to take a turn running the assembly and speak about something that is meaningful to them. Each week, their speeches will be posted for our community to read. These outstanding young people are the leaders of our school and have experiences and stories that are important to share. Last Monday, Dylan S. spoke about his first day at RA and encouraged all of us to be kind to others especially when they are new to our community. Enjoy Dylan's story.

There have been countless eighth graders who have spoken to you about their first day of school and while I'm about to do the same, no one’s first day at Ridgefield Academy has been like mine. I joined RA in March of 2012. It was a Monday and spring break was just two weeks away. It was a daunting experience. I had been at my old school just two days before. I was being introduced to a whole new grade with almost 30 kids and because I came from a school where there were only 7 kids in my grade. This was a big adjustment.

You’re probably thinking, okay, that’s all very nice but, how was your first day so different? Well, my first day was a field trip to Planet Pizza and Carvel and, I was terrified! The first day of school is scary enough, but now I didn’t even get to stay on campus. I arrived at Ridgefield Academy at 8 o'clock so I could meet my teacher, the wonderful Mrs. Khanna. She made me feel safe and reassured me that the day was going to be extremely fun. One by one my new classmates entered the room and talked and joked with each other in the familiar way friends do when they’ve known each other for some time. I remember thinking I would like to be friends like that but, at that moment, I did not feel very hopeful. I didn’t even think they had noticed me. After Monday Morning Assembly, we went back to the classroom, sat in a circle and talked. Mrs. Khanna made introductions and everyone greeted me with a smile. Much to my surprise, I got to know my classmates and my classmates got to know me. By the time we were walking to the bus, kids were asking if they could sit next to me everywhere we went. Amazingly, I never felt alone. I initially thought that I would have to run back to the safety of Mrs. Khanna if I ever felt scared, but, every single student in the grade made an effort to be my friend. For me, the first day of school made an impactful first impression. It showed me that when people are kind, they can directly affect someone’s experience in a positive way. First impressions are very important because they set the tone of people's relationships. Ridgefield Academy’s first impression could not have been better. Everyone was so kind that they made me feel right at home and I have felt that way ever since. I encourage you to take what I have shared with you and, anytime a new student or visitor comes to RA, be kind, friendly, and thoughtful. You never know where they’re coming from or what they’re thinking. The first day can be daunting for anyone so always try to make them feel at home atop West Mountain Road.

Written by Dylan S.