Archive for graduation

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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Gabe’s Diploma Presentation






Last Wednesday, Gabe Akin, declared that he is ready to take on adult responsibilities and leave Clearwater. Clearwater's School Meeting agreed and granted him a diploma. Gabe reflected on his experiences and what he learned during his many years as a Clearwater student.



Many students and Clearwater parents attended Gabe's diploma presentation.

Gabe has been intensely learning and practicing poi performance during the past six months, and plans to increase his skill and create performances.





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


He demonstrated his poi-spinning abilities as part of his presentation.






After the poi demonstration, he spent a lot of time answering questions and talking about what kind of life is important to him.

As with other Clearwater graduates, Gabe embodies self-awareness, insight and self-confidence. In addition to the knowledge he's acquired during his life so far, he knows he has all the creativity and curiosity he needs to accomplish current and future goals. I was especially struck by the strength of his self-knowledge and his comfort embracing exploration above attempting to ensure certainty in life.

Congratulations and may you have many wonderful adventures, Gabe!

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Betsy’s Diploma Presentation

Betsy Vogel, the first of this spring's graduates, defended the thesis that she is ready to take on adult responsibilities in the larger world.


A crowd gathers for Betsy's presentation



Her diploma paper outlined a bit of her life before Clearwater, but went into the greatest detail about her experience of Clearwater and outside art and other classes she's taken while enrolled here.


Her presentation style was strong, warm and animated, which is appropriate because her goal is to become an animator.



After her presentation, she responded to a number of questions from the capacity audience with assurance and grace.


Betsy listens to questions



...and responds

She displayed some pieces from her art portfolio, which demonstrated a range of styles and media.



To see more samples and read rest of post, click on the "Read entire post" link.





After her presentation was finished, we all enjoyed yummy reception treats, many of them supplied by Betsy's family. School Meeting members voted unanimously to grant Betsy a Clearwater diploma.


Her most recent painting, which she sees as a metaphor for her launch into the adult world

When I think back to Betsy's first months at Clearwater when she was eleven years old, I am inspired and impressed by the expertise and confidence she has gained because of her hard work, intelligence and empathy. She has much to be proud of, including excellent skills for creating and maintaining satisfying work and personal relationships, as well as for pursuing and accomplishing whatever goals she makes for herself in the coming years. Warm wishes and congratulations, Betsy!

We will publish the full text of her diploma paper in an upcoming blog post.

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