Monday, June 20, 2022

Congratulations, Graduate!


K officially graduated high school! She opted not to have a ceremony, not to pose for official pictures, and not to send out announcements, which makes it feel a bit anti-climatic. However, it is a big deal, a milestone, and an opportunity to celebrate and honor her journey and her awesomeness.

Her official academic journey started 13 years ago with kindergarten and an examination of our state standards.  This began an annual pattern of ensuring a plan that met the standards for each progressive grade, building upon them to add topics she expressed interest in, then assessing her progress throughout the year and adding to and expanding upon those initial goals.  Her elementary school years consisted of private lessons, classes with friends, and classes/activities/field trips organized by other parents in our overlapping networks of homeschool families. Through that combination of approaches, she had a rich schedule of book clubs, country day presentations, nature study outings, science classes, etc.  She thrived, developing her passions for Shakespeare, baseball, literature, and more while learning and growing with a diverse community made up of both homeschool friends and kids that she knew through sports and other activities. She was busy and her education was rich in experiences:  living histories, Shakespeare productions, math circles, amazing science teachers, language classes, art and cultural experiences, and entrepreneurial endeavors.  We have always felt lucky to be part of a university community and to live in the San Francisco Bay Area with so many free and amazing educational, cultural, and natural experiences.

For high school, we combined state standards with the courses needed for college and aimed for a schedule of classes that would satisfy a variety of rigorous university requirements.  External assessment of her learning became more important, so she began taking courses at local community colleges.  Initially, my intent with those classes was to be able to prove her competence and readiness for a college curriculum, but I was impressed with almost all of the teachers and the course content and as she dove into her course experiences she found teachers who encouraged her to join the debate team, write for the college paper, and present at campus-wide science presentations.  This recognition of her work affirmed her learning experiences even beyond her grades.

As she graduates, I know that she's done more than achieve curricular expectations. She's truly a critical thinker. She just turned 17 and has finished nearly two years of college courses in all areas required for an associate's degree: English Communication, Arts and Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Physical and Biological Sciences, Ethnic Studies, and US History/the Constitution.  (She also has straight As.)  In addition, her high school curriculum has included classes taken through numerous providers and via other educators that include multiple AP courses, literature, math, science, history, and more, through which she also has straight As.

In addition to academics, work, and entrepreneurial endeavors, she's had a significant leadership experience through assistant coaching a 15U baseball team for the past two years. She also taught herself statistics and Excel so that she could prepare the baseball statistics for several local high school teams. She's had marketing accomplishments and some intense public speaking experience via a job at African American Shakespeare, as well as practical customer service experience in her restaurant job.

Next year she is planning to work, volunteer, take a few classes, and perhaps consider her options for transfer.  She has achieved guaranteed admission as a Junior to six different UC campuses and multiple CSUs and she's been recruited by lots of private schools, so she has lots of options. 

As I reflect on this milestone, it is important to me to celebrate the awesome person that she is - uniquely herself:  accomplished, confident, funny, passionate, interesting, capable, intelligent, responsible, loving, and happy. I have learned from her how to expand my understanding of the world as a place without boundaries or restrictions... and I have learned to listen to and learn from her, understanding that she is often right even when I am initially certain that I have the greater wisdom.  I am proud of her and I deeply love, admire, respect, and adore her.

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