To the 8th Grade Class that Changed My Life

Caroline Kuiper, Editor In Chief

At the tender age of 13, I enrolled in Challenge Language Arts, a class whose title now seems rudimentary but at the time was the epitome of intellect. My 8th grade self had no idea what would come out of that classroom by the end of the year, but boy, was I in for a surprise. Before that class, all I believed middle and high school prepped you for was college, end of story. I felt that nothing could be taught to me except for the lessons that got me an acceptance letter in four year’s time. Fortunately, I was wrong.

When our teacher David Vermullen walked through the door, I was immediately shocked by how young he was to be teaching a challenge class, an honor that typically went to the elder teachers of the school. When he began talking, however, I discovered why it was he teaching instead of someone else. His passion was clear after only a few sentences, sharing why he had chosen teaching and telling us about his life. That first day was spent only talking.

As the year went on, our homework never involved anything busy or useless. In fact, looking back I don’t believe Mr. V never gave us a regular assignment. We spent our days discussing our beliefs, looking into the theme of good vs. evil for most of the year. Our homework was creative, interesting, and based on us. The classics which seemed boring at first began to come alive and teach us real life lessons. One writing, entitled “This I Believe,” made me dig deeper than I thought I ever could at that age. It was then that I realized what my teacher was doing.

The class was far beyond any of my classmates’ or my years, as was his intention. His goal was for his ducklings, as he called us, to grow up. And by the end of the year, we had. Mr. V expressed interest in us as people, not students who would come and go. He talked to me about health, empathy, careers, his passions and mine, and everything in between. Leaving his class, I left barely a year older but with more wisdom than I could have ever hoped for, along with a new friend who I still keep in touch with on occasion.

Now looking towards my last year of high school, I have realized that this was the point in my life in which I matured and became a better person; and because of that, I feel a thank you is in order. To the teacher that changed my outlook on life, you gave me a proper work ethic, the ability to see things from both sides, and showed me what it looked like to pursue many passions to live a life that you are happy to live. Your ducklings are almost out in the real world now, and thanks to you we can handle it.