Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Ghandhi
It was August of 2016 in a new school year, and in Middle School we had many new students beginning their first days of school. One particular eighth grader was working his way from class to class around campus, and his comfort level was low. This is not uncommon for students at a new school, but his journey to Heritage was a unique one. Born in Ghana, he moved to South Florida at the age of 12, and then moved to Newnan in the fall of 2016. His Heritage parents, Kimball and Karen Peed, welcomed him with open arms, but one can only imagine what this young man, who had already gone through so many transitions, must have been thinking and feeling during those first few days at Heritage.
Over the course of the first few weeks, I watched as our other 8th grade students made him feel welcome by treating him as any other classmate. I witnessed his basketball teammates eat lunch with him and ease his mind about social dynamics of school. And I stood in amazement the day he proudly showed his classmates his childhood home on Google Earth – thousands of miles away. His name is Ebenezer Duwuona, but everyone calls him Ebe.
Four years later, Ebe is an unqualified success story. He is graduating from Heritage this May and then heading to North Carolina State University to play basketball on a full scholarship.
In January, Ebe spoke to our 7th grade about his life in Ghana. They are studying a unit on Africa in their Geography class, and Mrs. Martha Lynn Mitchell invited him in to share with students. Like Ebe has done so many times before, he lit up the room with his quiet voice and his wisdom. He told the class about his young sister and mother – whom he rarely sees but thinks about often. He shared his first impressions as a 12-year-old in America and bravely told the story of how shocked he was when a stranger in Miami shouted derogatory words at him. But he also spoke about warming up to Heritage. He admitted that, during his first few days, he didn’t even want to be here but then illustrated how the students, teachers and coaches helped him change his mind. Four years later, as they enjoyed traditional Ghanian food, Ebe and our 7th grade were all part of the same community. He made an impact on these young students- just like he has made on so many others in the Grove and beyond. That is Heritage. Ebe’s journey helped me understand the power of having a welcoming community. The impact of giving others a fair chance – and the fact that “fair” may mean different things to different students. Ebe will affect our school community way beyond graduation and college. And I hope our students gain from him the importance of staying humble, happy and grateful in moments of success and failure, trepidation and confidence.
Important February Dates
- Friday, February 14— Noon Dismissal
- Monday and Tuesday, February 17 and 18— Winter Holiday— No School
- MS Parent Coffee and Roundtable—Wednesday, February 26— 8:20a
- Wednesday, March 4— Conference Day— No Classes
- 8th Grade Team-Building and Retreat (more information to follow)— March 19
- MS Parent Coffee and Roundtable— Wednesday, March 25— 8:20a
- MS Parent Coffee and Roundtable —Wednesday, April 28– 8:20a