WESTMINSTER -- "There are two qualities apparent here I haven't seen in all the other graduations I have attended: love and confidence."
That remark was overheard during the Open Forum portion of Compass School's recent graduation ceremony. More than 150 teachers, graduates, family and friends all took a part in celebrating the graduates during the June 1 event.
Compass Director Dr. Rick Gordon gave opening remarks about the exceptional accomplishments of this class. As a reflection of the tremendous depth and breadth of educational experiences for Compass students, Gordon read off a lengthy list of academic and non-academic achievements that challenged every student: writing plays, producing a science journal, making movies, analyzing global development organizations, helping lead health week, traveling overseas, and serving the community in numerous ways.
More important than all this schoolwork, Gordon said, "is that through all these experiences and through the embrace of the community that surrounds you here, you were able to find your true self and let that shine through in all you do."
When it came time for the graduates to speak, one after another moved the audience to laughter and tears as they shared their learning from their high school experience.
Isaac Shaw, the winner of the Vermont Scholar Award, explained how Compass promoted the kind of safe risk taking students need to learn and grow in order to make their education their own. Chris Diak concluded the student portion of the program encouraging his classmates to aim high, embracing "epic failures" as a route to also realizing major successes. Julia Taylor, the senior class advisor, quoted the poet Mary Oliver, telling these graduates to "Pay Attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."
Despite the heat, no one seemed weary as the ceremony climaxed with the awarding of diplomas by Board President Matt Peake.
"The artistic handmade diplomas, created by Compass students, represent the distinctive qualities of each recipient," stated a release from the Compass School. "The graduates first see these personalized diplomas when they come on stage -- a truly special moment that recognizes their personal accomplishments and the unique gifts they take with them from their high school experience."