7380 Girard Ave

La Jolla, California


Posted on Jun 18, 2012

Gillispie Graduates Eight Wonderful Young People; Retiring Teacher Ms. Pirtle Tells Them to “Go For It!”

June 15, 2012

Congratulations to the Class of 2012:

Danielle G.: Francis Parker School

Christopher G.: La Jolla Country Day School

Nick H.: The Bishop’s School

Emma O.: The Bishop’s School

Alicia O-F.: Stella Maris Academy

Athena R.: La Jolla Country Day School

Aeriel S.: Francis Parker School

Annie Z.: The Bishop’s School


Ms. Pirtle’s address to the graduates, delivered June 15, 2012:

Dear Sixth Graders,

Well, here we are, you and I, really very much alike and yet so extremely different. We are both leaving Gillispie on the same day, leaving this comfortable, supportive nest where we were given the opportunity to grow, share ideas, make great friends, meet teachers, and, yes, share the joy of learning.

You, from pre-school years or for a few of you, for only a year, it’s still the same. It’s what you take away from this exceptional experience that really matters. I feel exactly the same for myself.

The other day I was sitting having lunch outside my classroom, just having a quiet moment when a little boy, about three, showed up in the sandbox about fifteen feet from me. He was completely unaware of anyone around him. He had a PURPOSE—he took one piece of PVC pipe and then another of a different length, and another, trying to get them all to fit—some did and some didn’t. He didn’t care. He had a purpose and he just kept trying. He finally linked them across the entire sandbox. He then carefully raised one end putting some blocks beneath it. He ran to get a bucket of water, dragged it to his creation. Carefully he poured the water in one end of the pipe and ran to the other to watch it flow out. He jumped up and down spinning around and yelled, “Yes!” He did this several times until the bell rang and he was called inside. What a lesson—this little child was unaware of anyone watching him; he wasn’t expecting praise from a teacher or a prize for his wonderful accomplishment. He did it for the complete joy and satisfaction of achieving his goal all by himself.

As you leave this beautiful school and go into your next chapter, realize you have your tools, your skills that you’ve honed to be a great success at whatever you desire. That is truly exciting and a bit scary at the same time. I, too, feel that wondering of, “What will be my new purpose, my new goals in my exciting new life?” Just think of all the friends you will make and the special ones you’ll bring along with you. I like to think of my friends as quiet angels who lift me to my feet when my wings have trouble remembering how to fly. What a warm feeling.

You will try new sports and artistic endeavors of all kinds. Of course you will be graded for your accomplishments along the way, but keep your eye on the goal, not the A. The passion you’ll feel for doing something you truly love will far outweigh the A. Keep your “Pink Pearl” in your pocket, because you’re bound to make lots of mistakes. Gosh, in kindergarten I must say everyday at least a dozen times, “We ALL make so many mistakes, thank goodness for Pink Pearls.” They are, as Ms. Schissler so aptly puts it, “avenues for understanding.”  

One bit of advice is, please, please color outside the lines, especially with purple and red . . . and think outside of the box.

The future is so full of surprises, it’s fun to peek around the corner and, wow, there’s another new one! You just have to learn to embrace each of them. Be creative and passionate about your dreams and please don’t let ANYONE tell you can’t!

Life, I have learned, is like a puzzle–you just have to keep turning each piece many times before they all fit. Then, when they do, you can jump up and down, twirl around like the little boy in the sandbox and yell, “YES, I DID IT!”


Thank you.

To Ms. Suzanne Pirtle for her 15 years of service at Gillispie, to Ms. Maté Schissler for 12 years as a teacher and reading specialist, and Ms. Keris Binder for her six years instructing in our early childhood program, we are grateful for your dedication and the love you’ve shown in working with our children. We wish for you great adventures and many opportunities to color outside the box.

Alison Fleming
Head of School

P.S. I’m pleased to share that Gillispie alumni graduating from high school programs this year are planning to attend the following colleges and universities: Boston College, Brooks Institute, Brown University, California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo, University of California at San Diego, University of California at Santa Barbara, George Washington University, New York University, Smith College, University of Southern California, Sweet Briar College, Yale College.

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