Sixth-Graders Talk About Life and Learning
By Dustin Runyon, Guest Writer
I was recently asked to be the guest speaker for the Lake Havasu School District’s Elementary Evening of Excellence, and if there is an opportunity for me to serve, I serve. But I haven’t sat down with a sixth grader since I was in sixth grade, and I definitely wasn’t getting academic awards or being honored at an event. I need to understand them. I need to see what the world looks like through their eyes. What was a 6th grader after? What was life about for them? How do they set out to achieve their goals? I sat down with Corbin Horvath and Lane Daigle, both twelve-year-olds at Starline Elementary, and asked them these questions. All I have to say is… WOW! Adults, take notes…
Dustin: Were you both born in Lake Havasu?
D: So, what does a hardworking student look like? Why do you think you guys are at the top and others aren’t?
L: Other kids don’t try. They focus too much on goofing around in class—which, I do like to talk a lot, but I still listen to the teacher. You really have to understand and focus on the subject and, for some reason, a lot of kids just don’t understand it.
D: So you have to focus?
L: You have to focus a lot.
D: And you just don’t think they focus?
L: No; there’s a lot of kids that all they do is sit in the back of the class and draw or play on their phones.
D: What makes you want to focus?
L: Just my future, I guess. I understand that college won’t be looking at my elementary school grades, but middle school will. And if I’m in advanced classes in middle school, than I will be in high school, and high school is when colleges start looking at grades.
C: I think about my future; I don’t want to mess up now, because then the rest of my future will be messed up.
D: How would you describe a good team?
L: Having people who are cooperative. Also, having someone else who actually cares about the group and wants to help.
C: Having someone who will help instead of just watching and copying.
D: Are you fans of other people copying off from you?
L: I don’t mind if we talk about a problem with each other and we conclude to an answer, but if I put in all the effort and they don’t put in any, than I have a problem with it.
D: Do you guys feel like everyone needs to put in a certain amount of effort in order for the team to succeed?
D: What do you think makes for a good learning environment?
C: A place where there’s no distractions.
L: Some talking is okay, but I definitely need a comfortable area without people crowding around me. I also like it when there’s someone there who will help you, like a teacher.
C: I like having lots of space on my desk too.
D: What makes learning fun for you guys?
C: Our teachers. Ones that don’t just hand out tests every day, but ones that give us projects to make things fun.
L: We’re doing this really awesome, real-life project right now where we get to choose a college to go to and get to choose the job we want. Then we have to look at the tax percentages, our fixed necessities, our salary chart, and our savings. I picked marine biology and it’s fun to see how my salary changes after taxes. I honestly didn’t think taxes were that much!
D: What job did you pick, Corbin?
C: A robotic engineer. I also think it’s fun because she doesn’t give us due dates for each part of the project; she just made everything due at the end of the quarter.
L: And that way, we don’t feel rushed to do it. There’s some kids that will stay up the night before it’s due trying to finish it, but I like to do a little bit each day so I won’t be stressed about it.
C: I like that our teachers give us time to do our work in class, too.
D: When is learning not fun for you guys?
C: It’s usually pretty fun.
L: I like math class, but I don’t like having to listen to somebody teach me a certain standard. I’d rather explore and do my own problems.
D: What’s your favorite way to learn?
L: Reading. I love reading out of my social studies text book; my math and sciences text books are okay, too.
C: I like learning stuff that doesn’t take a long time to do, but is still hard.
D: So you like to be challenged?
C: Yeah; I don’t like having a lot of questions that are easy, but take a long time to do. I’d rather have one really hard question that I can do and spend time on that single question.
D: What makes for a good role model?
L: They’re definitely reasonable, like someone who doesn’t expect you to do something right every time. Like a coach who doesn’t just yell at you for doing something wrong, but tells you what you did wrong and shows you how to fix it.
C: Role models who can actually help you with what you’re trying to achieve instead of just telling you what to do.
D: Someone that’s there to support you and allows you room to make mistakes?
Both: Yes, exactly
D: Do you have a role model?
L: Yeah, my dad.
C: Mine is a hockey player, because I play hockey. His name is Pavel Datsyuk; he plays for the Red Wings.
D: At what age do you think you become an adult?
C: Once you can start driving, because then you can start doing what you want when you want.
L: Once your parents stop paying for your stuff.
D: If I said you could only use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
D: Is there anything you’re afraid of?
L: Failing. If I get a bad grade on a test, I’ll get upset, or if I do something wrong I’ll instantly feel so guilty that it hurts.
C: Messing up so bad that it messes up my future.
D: What does it mean to be a good person?
L: You’re always willing to help someone out that’s in need. It doesn’t matter if they need money or help in other ways, even if it means they need help on a question, you would help them out.
C: A person who always does what’s right.
L: Also a person that makes mistakes, but admits it and learns not to do it again.
D: How did you accomplish some goals that you achieved in the past?
C: By not giving up.
L: Having determination. My dad uses the term “get hungry” and if I really want something, I’ll think about going for it, no matter what happens.
D: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
L: I would basically try everything that came in my path because I would know that I could do it.
C: I would just keep doing what I want to do. If I wanted to become a hockey player, and I knew I couldn’t fail, I would still try and work hard. I wouldn’t give up.
D: What are some things that are holding you back from achieving the goals that you have now?
C: Age…like, I can’t go and become a professional hockey player at twelve.
L: Living in Lake Havasu, because college recruits won’t come to the high school here looking for professional soccer players. Maybe lower division ones would come here, but not the higher division ones, because it’s just too small.
D: What are some things you did in school this past year that you would consider excellent?
C: Not giving up on the two-quarter-long project our teacher gave us.
L: Not giving up when I had a really bad group for the project we did. My goal was to not finish last, so I just helped my group out and we ended up finishing third or fourth.
D: If you could interview me, what’s one question you would ask me?
C: What did you do to achieve your goals?
D: If there’s one thing I can say, it’s have a vision and never give up. Don’t ever give up on the things you want in life. Work hard, put in outstanding effort, surround yourself with people you want to be like, and have courage to keep working toward your goals as you get older. Normally people’s goals get smaller as they get older; keep your goals BIG. You guys are the future, and I really feel so lucky to be listening to you talk. Sitting down in front of you, I’m confident that our future is going to be great…because of kids like you.
L: We’re really part of a whole class of a bunch of smart, talented, gifted kids.
D: What is life about for you guys, as sixth-graders?
C: Achieving my goals
L: Making my future better
D: You guys are amazing! Thank you for spending time with me today. Is there anything else that we can talk about?
Both: (shrugging shoulders) I think we’re good!
Editor’s Note: The Elementary Evening of Excellence begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 6:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Lake Havasu High School. The High School Evening of Exellence is tonight (Monday, May 16) at the same location.