Friday, May 22, 2009

Diploma Presentations

This is The Clearwater School's 13th year, which means that those students who started at age five are now graduating. Fittingly, our graduating class this year is the largest ever. So far, four of six aspiring graduates have completed their diploma presentations. Each event has been so different from the one before--and I know that the next two will also be unique.

This past Saturday, I watched Ian Freeman-Lee present his paper and demonstrate his skill at writing, design, art, and production. He showed us a preview of a video game he is creating in collaboration with another student. As I listened to Ian's informative and entertaining talk, I was impressed by so many things--his timing, his humor, his accomplishment, and his confidence.

Code for Ian's computer game. Prototypes & rules for related card game

(Click on "Read entire post" for more.)

With a now familiar sense of awe, I was also impressed with Claire, Betsy and Gabe in their presentations this year, and the graduation presentations of all the students who have gone before. It is always moving to see children grow into themselves, and graduation from high school is a very moving transition.

Clearwater's graduation presentations provide a very public reflection of the process of growing up--as experienced by one individual. I continue to learn from the graduates how being at Clearwater can be a completely different experience for each student.

Samples of Ian's art portfolio

Each Diploma presentation includes a question and answer section. As I listened to the questions asked on Saturday, I was reminded of how grateful I feel for these presentations, for what they give to me and the rest of our community.

Audience at Ian's diploma presentation

The dialogue between the Clearwater community and the graduates is a wonderful exchange of curiosity, admiration, caring and connection. The questions are often specific to the presenting student, but the issues raised speak to larger philosophical issues about what it means to gain an education and take on the responsibilities of being an adult in our culture.

Those of us who attend the presentations this year get to learn about students' passions that range from hula to visual art to jazz guitar, from poi spinning to computer gaming. We get to hear how students master the academic tasks of reading and writing, become better at communicating, push themselves to be more outgoing or more focused, and most centrally, how they get to deeply know and fully be themselves. It is a highlight of my year to celebrate our students' accomplishments, and thank them for what they have given to us personally and as a community.

Some former, current and future Clearwater graduates

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