‘This I Believe...’

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Eighth graders like Faith Regal recently wrote and recorded “This I Believe” essays, through which they shared thoughts about important moments in their lives. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Aidan Grove said he believes in family, and reflected on the birth of his younger brother.

Eighth graders reflect on important life moments

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

As the year passes from one to the next, for many, it’s a time to reflect on what they believe in, to think about moments that have been important in their lives.

The eighth graders at MFL MarMac are no different. They’ve just put their thoughts into words by writing their own “This I Believe” essays and recording them for posterity.

“You have to write about what you believe in,” said Aidan Grove, simply explaining the premise of the assignment.

For six years, teacher Scott Boylen has tasked his students with completing the project before Christmas break.

“It’s the right time to do it,” he said. “It’s a reflective time of year.”

The concept, he noted, started as a result of the 1950s “This I Believe” radio program run by famed broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.

“For several years, he collected recorded essays, mostly by important and famous individuals, on topics of a pretty wide range,” Boylen detailed.

For his eighth grade language arts students, Boylen said many focus on sports—how basketball, football or other activities aid their development on and off the court or field.

Some branch out into other territory, however. 

One student, for example, reflecting on a bad decision he’d made, said he believed in second chances and giving others the opportunity to turn their lives around.

Another said she believed in miracles, after a surgery helped preserve her eyesight at a young age.

One girl said she believed in being thankful for what she has, following the death of a friend a year ago.

Grove believes in family. His essay told of the birth of his younger brother, his memories of holding the tiny baby, knowing he’d have a friend for life.

“He’s really important to me,” Grove said. “I was 3 years old, so I’m surprised I could remember. It’s probably my first memory.”

Faith Regal said she believed in sticking by her decision to not have the birthmark removed from her face.

“I remember the time my dad asked me if I wanted it removed,” she shared. “I kept thinking, ‘Would I have more friends?’ But then I wondered if the friends I had would still like me if I was going to change who I was.”

Ultimately, she decided against the removal, but Regal admitted she sometimes questions it.

“It’s probably been one of the biggest things in my life,” she said.

Boylen said students write their “This I Believe” essays first, then record themselves reading what they’ve written. Both are uploaded onto the class site on kidblog.org, where parents can see and hear what their children shared.

“It’s really a gift to the parents,” he said.

But he, too, enjoys learning more about his students.

“You learn a lot about what drives the kids, what they care about beyond school,” he said.

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