I Am Berkeley

I had the opportunity to attend an amazing high school in Florida (Berkeley Preparatory School) and recently, was asked to present to a group of student leaders on my experience at Berkeley.  This sums up my experience...in so many ways!

I Am Berkeley

I was founded in 1960 in affiliation with the Episcopal Church,

by families who wished to establish a rich educational body that was not a boarding school,

by people who did not recognize then, the mark their decisions and actions would make,

on the lives of students, staff members, parents and families,

then and in the future,

and that that decision would continue to evolve well beyond today's world of 2011,

I am a school with many identities but one true mission,

to put people into the world who make a positive difference,

I am designed with the student in mind,

I am a place where a diverse population of students learn and grow,

I am also a place where new students feel at home,

I am a welcoming environment - a learning-friendly environment where I want to know you,

and invest in you,

I am a school that challenges the "system" thinking,

that tries new things and admits when things do not work,

I press-on in the pursuit of a fresh perspective,

and I deliver a foundational message grounded in strong faith underpinnings,

I am here to make a difference and to reach out,

to bring something new and different to the community,

that works for many, and for one,

I make the complex simple - and relate the real life to the classroom,

I make my mark daily,

I am these things and many others,

and I, am Berkeley,

I am a school that seeks the growth and development of the total person,

I am a school that challenges students to learn through discovery,

that the real joy of education comes from accomplishing a worthwhile,

and challenging task in a safe and nurturing atmosphere,

my creed is Discipline, Diligence and Integrity,

and I teach values, virtues and citizenship skills through character education programs,

ideas and concepts that are quickly glossed-over, passed-by and even ignored,

by many educational organizations.

I encourage lifelong learning,

so that my members can make their mark,

I, am Berkeley

I manifest an environment that is engaging;

an environment that encourages hard work and dedication,

towards a common cause of making a positive mark on society,

to giving back and establishing this as a lifelong priority in my students, parents and faculty,

my students, faculty and staff lead in our community, in our nation, and in our world,

in 2009-2010 alone, we completed more than 23,800 hours of community service,

we don't fit the mold, we break it and make a new one,

we challenge the system thinking and stereotypes,

striving to achieve something better,

something that reaches further,

and rises higher than status quo

I am a place where children become young adults, a tight-knit family,

and I, am Berkeley

My classrooms challenge and educate at the same time,

they invite students to listen,

to consider how society modifies-at-will life meaning,

to remind of the mark one can make on the life of another person,

I am "live" Monday through Friday in a fully wireless world,

and my messages carry onward throughout the week on sports team,

clubs, honor societies, and student organizations,

on the mound, on the Lykes stage,

and in the hallways that echo with promise for the future,

- - - - - - - - -

I am resolution, purpose, application, and change,

my classes actually began in 1961 with 140 total students in grades 7-12,

and in 1979, I took residence on Kelly Road,

today, I am 1200+ students in K-12 with 136 in the 2009 class,

people of Asian, African-American, and Hispanic origin represent 23% of my student population,

and 121 faculty with an average tenure of 10.5 years,

all contribute to our annual campaign,

more than 60% of my graduates this year will go to out of state colleges,

80% of my students participate in athletics,

spanning 16 sports and comprised of more than 60 teams,

my alumni base is a mere 3,100 about half of which live in the Tampa area,

with the other 50% spanning 15 countries and all 50 United States,

- - - - - - - - -

I have been lead most recently by an amazing leader - Berkeley's fourth headmaster,

who in his 24th year is making as much if not more of an impact than in year one,

Mr. Merluzzi is certainly one who's mark is recognized today,

and who's full impact may not be realized until years from now,

as we recognize his legacy of leadership,

I, am Berkeley

I am students that somehow give 150% when 100% would "just do",

I am a place that asks for scholarship contributions,

capital campaign gifts and support for development initiatives,

and whose request often results in an overflow of gifts and offerings,

I am always extending a welcoming hand, a warm smile, and a word of encouragement,

I value lasting relationships and seek to create an environment that is open,

transparent, educational, and engaging,

an environment that is fun, and an environment that is meaningful,

I am all about giving back...and this is a core value,

I, am Berkeley,

I am a place where thinking is expanded and questions are answered,

where students make amazing life decisions,

and where foundations are built on values, beliefs and undisputed fact,

a place where on any given day,

a student's life may be changed,

I truly impact students not only for one moment - but for a lifetime,

I recognize the value of education at all ages,

I, am Berkeley,

My offerings will grow and change over time - as part of a vision and plan,

flexible in its ability to change with the ups and downs that come with our lives and society,

above all else, I put people into the world who make a positive difference,

people who are making their mark,

I am so many things...to so many people...in so many ways...,

I will make my mark long into the future,

and I, am Berkeley.