Mission in Action: Emma Shi '32

March 05, 2024

Emma Shi '32 is a bookworm. She's curious about everything, loves acting and playing the violin, and is passionate about sustainability and her Chinese heritage. She's also writing a children's book! 

In many ways, Emma embodies the Moravian Academy mission. Her joyful spirit, nurtured by teachers and campus directors; effective communication skills; and desire to lead with integrity shines as she explores the many sides of her identity.


My Identity by Emma Shi '32

It is my honor to be here and share my Moravian story with you.

On my first day of Third Grade, Ms. Kuehner asked me, as well as my mom and dad: “How would you describe Emma’s identities?”  

Mom said: “Emma is a little book worm.”

That is so true. When the pandemic started, I was just four years old. Mom and dad needed to find something to entertain me when they were busy with my nine-month-old baby brother and their full time jobs. Nothing worked until I opened the first book of Magic Tree House. I completely lost myself in the story. The next day, mom and dad bought me the WHOLE series!

That fall, I started Kindergarten at Moravian Academy. Mrs. Bowser in Kindergarten and Ms. Endress in First Grade both encouraged me to read and write, but I always wanted more. 

Not only did my teachers and school directors believe in me, they also made sure Mrs. Economopolous and Ms. Johnson checked in with me every day in the first couple of weeks when I started in Third Grade. What’s more exciting was when Mrs. Nordmeyer started our own Gifted Program with us at Moravian. I truly enjoyed all the projects and creative activities and I was so happy when my essay from the Gifted Program got published on the school blog!

When Ms. Kuehner asked us: “How would you describe Emma’s identities?” Dad said: “Emma is curious.”

Yep, he was right. I am curious about everything. I want to learn everything. I want to try everything. I started violin lessons with Mrs. Wetzel in Kindergarten. I had no idea she had been at Moravian for decades! Now, I am in the Lower School Orchestra. I joined the school musical with Señorita Medina last fall and now I am in the new school play. I was in the chess club. I am learning the flute with Mr. Wallace. I presented two of my films at the Film Fest… Moravian Academy offers so many things for me to explore!

When Ms. Kuehner asked me: “How would you describe your identities?” I didn’t know what to tell her. I cannot think of one word—I am so many things!

And I am so lucky that Moravian lets me be that many things. Moravian lets me be me. When I told my teachers that I was proud of my Chinese heritage, all my teachers, including my Fourth Grade teacher, Mrs. Matlock, created opportunities to let me introduce the Chinese culture and traditions to my friends. It started today and will last this whole week! Mrs. Polefka invited me to talk about the Chinese New Year on MABC. Even the whole school adds a non-uniform day to the school calendar when everyone can wear red clothes! It was amazing! 

Moravian also let me be me when I proposed my sustainability project. I watched a documentary about climate change. It was so sad to see how ocean animals were suffering and our Earth polluted. I wrote a proposal and sent it to Dr. Mahone, Dr. Vanderbeck, and Ms. Kuehner. They all supported me! Dr. Vanderbeck brainstormed with me. Ms. Kuehner took our whole class to the Upper School campus to learn about their energy preservation efforts. I got to design a poster called Green Moravian, which till this day still hangs in the Lower Campus buildings. I even made my own documentary and showed it to everyone in the lower school.

This is my Moravian story so far. But I’m not done yet!

When I was preparing this speech, Dr. Mahone asked me what I plan to do next and what I think the school can do in the future. 

Here’s my plan: I am hoping to create a stop-motion film that tells the story of Monkey King based on the Chinese classic literature, Journey to the West. I am also writing my new sustainability proposal that we could have a zero-waste day on Earth Day this year. Finally, I wrote a picture book that I hope to publish. If you know any kids book publishers, please let me know!

Here’s what I think the school can do: I think it would be super cool if students in the Gifted Program could work together with a teacher or a high school buddy on a project. It would also be awesome if the school can support students who have great ideas for the school directors to work on something that will help our community and our Earth. Moreover, I think the school can encourage students to celebrate their different cultures and heritage by letting them share their cultural traditions and celebrating their important cultural holidays.

Last but not least, and this is the most important, can we please have more SMILEY FRIES on the lunch menu?!

Okay, that’s all. Thank you so much for listening!

Moravian Academy nurtures the joyful spirit of each learner and empowers inclusive global citizens to think critically, communicate effectively, lead with integrity, and strive for excellence.


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