If First Graduate students have a rite of passage it has to be Presentations of Learning.
Every year we invite our high school students to reflect on what they learned during the past year that will help them improve in the year to come. Students write out their thoughts, convert them into a 10-minute speech, and perform it in front of their peers, family members, and First Graduate volunteers. Oh, and if that wasn’t hard enough, all this happens smack dab in the middle of summer vacation.
So how does it all comes together? Sweat, tears, and dedicated volunteers. Lots and lots of volunteers.
This year 21 amazing volunteers agreed to take the afternoon to help students transform their twinkle of an idea and turn it into a fully formed presentation.
Working with First Graduate staff and volunteers, students crafted their personal statements and practiced their public speaking skills over a period of weeks. What started out as doodles on a page slowly morphed into strikingly personal and heartfelt statements by students who are starting to come to grasps with the full weight of what they are trying to accomplish, the struggles they have overcome, and the challenges they have yet to face.
Students were understandably nervous when the big day finally came, but all their hard work and preparation paid off. The final presentations (as always) were amazing to witness. One freshman student in my room spoke about how he grew following a particularly tough transition from middle school to high school, while another student reflected on how she dealt with cultural clashes she encountered as Tibetan student visiting China.
Though they each approached this Presentation of Learning from different starting points, what quickly became clear is that they’re all heading to the same place – college and beyond.
As one volunteer put it afterwards “If the two students I worked with tonight are a representative of other First Graduates, then this country is in damn good hands!”