It seems fitting that the Lower School Leadership Wall, a lesson in voting and civic duty, would elect a Founding Father as its latest honoree. For his courage and leadership during the American Revolution, skills as a scientist and inventor and service as a diplomat and public servant, Benjamin Franklin has been added as the 16th member of the Lower School Leadership Wall.
At a special assembly, Hridaan Soni ’34, Archie Patel ’33, Chris Fang, ’32 and Cole Huey ’31 told their classmates Benjamin Franklin’s story, from his early days as a newspaper printer to his career as a diplomat helping the Thirteen Colonies break away from Great Britain and finally as governor of Pennsylvania. Along the way, Franklin invented bifocals, performed groundbreaking experiments with electricity and published a bestselling almanac that coined numerous phrases still in use today.
“Benjamin Franklin was an ambitious man who did many things to help our country in the world,” Patel said. “He was a statesman, scientist, author and inventor, and some people even thought he had magical powers. But of course, he didn’t. He was just a regular man who also happened to be an amazing and awesome human being.”
The Leadership Wall, located in the lobby of the Fojtasek Lower School, honors historical figures who exemplify St. Mark’s traits of courage and honor, such as Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai, Norman Borlaug and George Washington.
Each year, boys nominate new historical leaders for the wall and the entire Lower School votes for the final selection. Invariably, boys will all have their preferred candidates, leading to robust debate in class.
“Respect is key here. The way they express opposing views is important,” Sherri Darver, head of Lower School, said. “They learn to be upstanders, and they must be able to qualify their thoughts and opinions with facts and reasoning. Everyone’s opinion is welcomed and encouraged, and though there may be opposing viewpoints, all substantiated thoughts and comments must be respected.”