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Middle School Students Ponder What Makes a Worthwhile Life:

What is a worthwhile life? It’s a question a lot of us have asked ourselves from time to time. Last week, each member of the 7th grade class at Lincoln Middle School (LMS) got a chance to sit down and be interviewed by a member of the community to discuss this thought-provoking question.

The Mirror also covered the interviews last year. At that time retired teacher Claudia Flanders, who helped create the program back in 1992 when she taught at Lincoln, explained that the program’s greater purpose is to unite all the academic disciplines. In addition, 7th grade is often a “crossroads time” for students, thus it’s a good time for them to begin to think about their future and what, for each individual, constitutes a worthwhile life. According to Flanders, the program has become a rite of passage at Lincoln.

Every year the school invites community members from all walks of life to be part of the event. Many of them enjoy the experience so much that they participate year after year. Lincoln’s Principal Trisdan Komlas told the Mirror the program gives the students a “different venue to express themselves” and “gives people in the community a different way to know teenagers.”

Some of the program’s questions included: Discuss skills and attitudes you have developed at school that will help you lead a worthwhile life; What, in your view, is the most pressing problem facing the future of your generation; What steps are you currently taking, big or small, to solve problems; How do you see yourself when you are 30; Why would you like your life to be like this?

Each student got a chance to respond to eight questions asked by the interviewer and then the interviewer evaluated their responses. The interview was not only evaluated in terms of their answers but also how each student presented themselves in terms of attire, posture, clear speaking voice, and other parameters. The students prepared for the interviews ahead of time as part of their “Who Am I” project.

Each interviewer had his own reason for participating. Lincoln parent and interior designer Brooke Giannetti got involved as a “way of giving back. The typical 7th grader is thinking about what they are doing today or this weekend, so this is a way for them to set goals for the future.”

Community member Christina Miller participates year after year because the students are going to be faced with interviewing all their lives, so “its really important for the kids to learn how to talk to adults they don’t know. It’s a learning experience in a safe environment because we’re not here to criticize them.”

Brad Turkey, a business sales and marketing consultant and former Lincoln parent, “loves hearing kids express their ideas in their own way.” They can give you a “perspective you may not be aware of.” He also pointed out that “in today’s competitive world, presentation is an important thing” for getting into college and getting a job.

A number of students shared their thoughts on the program with the Mirror. William Dove, who wants to be a professional surfer, “thought it was cool to figure out what a worthwhile life should be.” The program helped him “learn a lot about myself and showed me to try, not slack, and stay focused.” He also mentioned it gave him a shot of self-confidence.

Aspiring actress or creative writer Makenna Dano said the program “definitely helped me narrow down who I was.” She urged future 7th graders to “take the project seriously because you learn about yourself” and your heritage.“Interviewing teaches kids an important skill,” noted Jonathan Chin. “I got to talk about my favorite thing, opinions on things.” Chin hopes to become an engineer and architect. He stated that when someday he interviews about building a building and they ask him his background, this experience will help him to not be jittery.

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