The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Each of us must ‘Do what we can’

Last month was pretty rough for a lot of students. I was contacting students who had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Most of the students I met with had been vaccinated, so for them, it was a matter of checking to see that they had no symptoms and then sending them back to class. 

However, there were some students who had not been vaccinated, and in those cases, I was giving students the tough news that they would need to leave school and be quarantined for 14 days. In one case, I was sending a student home who had only recently returned to school from being quarantined because of a different close contact. 

As an administrator, those are some of the hardest conversations I’ve had. Telling a kid who wants to be here, who has not broken any rules, that he can’t come to school. After the meeting in my office, as I was walking him out to the front office, I told the student, “Sorry about this.” 

Mr. Falk, we do what we can.

And do you know what he said? He said, “Mr. Falk, we do what we can.” 

Here’s a student I’ve just told that he is being quarantined for the second time, and he’s being reassuring to me. 

It was one of the highlights of my year and that young man’s words continue to provide me with inspiration.

And in this moment, I can think of no better advice to you than “Do what you can.” You don’t need me to tell you that things are pretty tough out there and the problems that we face can seem insurmountable. Global warming, cities in turmoil, staggering inflation, a staggering national debt and a pandemic that has killed almost 900,000 Americans. Each of these challenges are potentially calamitous and we can feel powerless as individuals to address them. 

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But all of us can do something. And in fact, you ARE doing things. I’ve watched you. 

When you say “Good morning” to someone, you are making someone’s day better. When you pick up that extra paper boat off of the lunch table, you are making a janitor’s job easier. When you put on your mask and keep it on, you are protecting your classmates and the adults who are here to support you. When you participate in a spirit day, walk on the right side of the hallway, hug a friend, participate in the class discussion or let a staff member know that you know someone who needs help, you are making a contribution. 

You are doing what you can. 

I’ve written about this before and it’s worth repeating. Mountlake Terrace High School is the last place where you will be required to get along with an incredibly diverse group of people. From here, you will choose the groups of people you surround yourself with. You’ll have a choice of jobs and the people you are surrounded by at work. You’ll choose a college in part by the people you’ll have as classmates. You’ll choose a life partner and a neighborhood. 

But you likely didn’t choose Mountlake Terrace High School and the diversity of people you are surrounded by here every day, and the fact that we all generally get along is a very hopeful sign. 

We are a school of multiple home languages and multiple religions. We have a range of political affiliations. We include the multitude of gender identities and economic backgrounds. We include students from traditional nuclear families and kids who are living on their own. 

The fact we have banned together to follow a set of rules designed to allow us to continue to attend school in the midst of this pandemic is pretty amazing. The fact that you can all eat in the same cafeteria and play the same games in PE are all hopeful signs that we can get along as a country. 

So, in my view, Mountlake Terrace High School is a pretty amazing place because you are making it amazing. Your job while you are here is to get along and do what you can. 

And the next time you are feeling overwhelmed by the world we live in, remember that you have the power to do something, even if it seems pretty small, to make a positive difference.

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