Gratitude to Red Oaks

Gratitude to Red Oaks
2018 Graduating Class

Gratitude to Red Oaks

(A cento composed of lines written by students in ROS's 2018 Graduating Class)

Gratitude to the ways the lights flick on at the beginning of the day,

          marking learning and newness,

                    a fresh start.

Gratitude to the first person who talked to me on the first day of school,

          to the smiles and laughter that made me feel comfortable.

I was a planet, but now I am a galaxy.

I was a grain of sand in a clam,

and now I am a pearl.

When I arrived at Red Oaks, I was a sand castle being washed under the water,

but now I am an ornate temple made of many grains

that stands up to the constant presence of the waves.


Gratitude to my first day of middle school, when the 8th graders treated me like part of their group.

Gratitude for the unspoken kindness between the ROS students.

Gratitude to a friend who gave me a big toothless grin the second I walked into school.

Gratitude to the pencils scattered around the school, ready for the taking.

          I was a canvas; now I am the artist.

Gratitude to the beanbag chairs that were comfy as we sat on them.

Gratitude to the small things here,

the laughter echoing through the rooms,

the help given, even when not asked.

Gratitude to 1 homework assignment a week.

Gratitude for students' faces lighting up after seeing an A on a math test.

I was a rock. Now I am a mountain.

I was a pebble. Now I am a triceratops.

I was a comet, small and insignificant,

but now I am a star, shining away.

I was a cloud,

but now I'm a river.

Gratitude for the day I won my first gaga game—

          the sky was as clear as my victory.

I was a duke. Now I am a magician.

I was a Lego Duplo; I am now a Lego.

Gratitude to the overcompetitive recess soccer, which was a bonding time for the whole grade.

          (Gratitude for learning when one needs to see the nurse.)

Gratitude to my good friend Daniel for a single tortellini at lunchtime.

Gratitude for the soft beds at D.C., nice and comfy at night.

          I was an insignificant participant at MMUN,

          but now I am a man of power who helps those around him.

                    I was a small chair in the back.

                    Now I am the great marble pedestal seen in the all the UN speeches.

                                        I was a tourist,

                                        but now I am an ambassador.

Gratitude to the teachers who taught me to always be prepared on trips.

I was a traveler wandering the sands

but now I'm a traveler on top of a camel.

I was a horse-drawn carriage,

but now I am a Lamborghini.

I didn't know North America existed

but now I am crossing the ocean for the first time.

Gratitude to the days when I napped

lying outside on the ground, calm as a lake.


Gratitude to math for being much easier all those years ago....

Gratitude for extending deadlines,

letting me get away with somewhat illegal things,

teaching me how to love and how to finish

long-term projects.

I was tic-tac-toe,

but now I am Monopoly.

Gratitude for playing cards in the elevator room at MMUN.

Gratitude to the big tree in the woodchips

          for being a good hiding spot in Manhunt.

I was once a sprout but now I am many bushes.

I was Caliban, but now I'm Prospero.

I used to be a breeze, but now I am a Tempest.


Gratitude to this massive building I was taught in.

Gratitude to teachers,

          whose jokes lit up the classrooms—

for teaching me how to divide fractions.

who always pushed me toward greatness,

sharpened my skills,

loved me.

          I used to be a cactus but now I am a dune buggy.

Gratitude for teaching me how to draw,

          for teaching us the best art techniques,

          and that Earth without art is Eh.

Gratitude for teaching me why community service is so important,

          for showing me that I am better at Spanish than I think.

I was once a baobab tree, shoving my feeling inside,

but now I am a cactus fruit, giving solace in the tough times.

Gratitude for the teachers' money, which they gave to us in D.C. for the game room.


Gratitude to the teachers' patience,

putting up with us day after day, and

the light in everyone's eyes,

the glimmer of learning and love.

I used to be a spell, limited to what I knew.

Now I am the magic itself, flowing through everything.

                    I used to be a slave.

                    Now I am MLK.


Gratitude to the teachers who allowed me to keep one eye open during naptime

          because I did not want to sleep.


Gratitude to the independence teachers let us have.

Gratitude for overcoming barriers,

finding ways to love and accept,

to support and teach thoughts,

thoughts running around everywhere,

exchanging themselves and whispering things to each other.

I was a translator, but only for myself.

Now I talk and mediate to others.

When I arrived at Red Oaks, I was a little intimidated surfboard.

Now I am surfing over the waves at high speeds.


Gratitude for the freedom that Red Oaks was able to give us.


Gratitude to the life lessons that this school taught me, which were unendingly massive.

Gratitude to the hugs that were given,

comforting and spontaneous,

to kittens and people and everything.

Gratitude to the small rooms that create Community.

          I was a singular fish in the ocean

          but now I am a part of the school of fish.

I was a black hole with no emotions.

Now I am Saturn, with colorful rings all around me.

Gratitude to the end of the year, coming like a dog to the mailman,

          to the last day of school, like a door swinging open into the sunlight.


I was a damsel in distress, but now I am my own knight.

I was the room under the staircase,

          but I am now Harry Potter's magic wand.


Gratitude to everything that made me who I am:

my friends, peers, teachers, family,

naps and art and math, and, of course,

          Red Oaks.


I was once a tree; now I'm a forest.

I was rain

          but now I am a forest.


Gratitude to Red Oaks.