A celebration full of glimmer gratitude

Special to the Reformer

WESTMINSTER — "You'd be surprised that a school this small can have graduation that is so long," observed Science teacher Eric Rhomberg in welcoming over 150 teachers, graduates, family, and friends to the Compass School's class of 2018 high school graduation. "But there is no place on earth better to be for the next couple hours," Rhomberg continued, "where together we will feel the full range of human emotions."

In its 19th year of offering a progressive alternative to local students, Compass graduated 17 students, one of the largest classes to date. Combined, they received acceptances to over 30 colleges and an outstanding record of scholarship and grant rewards totaling over $500,000. Over half of the graduating class has been with the school since seventh grade for the full six-year Compass experience.

In his opening remarks, Compass Director Dr. Rick Gordon acknowledged that seeing these mature and confident young adults at graduation makes it hard to remember how far these students have come. "What happened to the contentious middle schooler arguing about anything that seemed unfair? Or the ones who said they never do well in school?" Each of these students had overcome significant challenges to "learn to believe in yourself and believe in others," leading to a range of successful experiences, from traveling together to Cuba, to writing and producing films, to building electric generators and undertaking challenging independent projects.

Senior Advisor Louise Hodson offered her advice, telling the graduates that while life is full of opportunities, "it is when we are regretting and lamenting our past, or worrying about our future, that we unknowingly pass by doors of opportunity. So stay in the moment, let go of regrets and keep moving forward."

Kellie Crowder, the other Class Advisor, added, "I encourage you all to embrace the messiness in life. If for no other reason than the fact that relationships are messy and we know that strong relationships lead to happier healthier humans. Too often we associate messy with some kind of failure, but I encourage you to see that messy is just a sign of a life well lived. So go out, get messy, remember to breathe and to laugh and bask in the chaos that is life."

Each graduate spoke to offer reflections, and the consistent theme was gratitude for the unwavering support even through a diversity of sometimes challenges experiences. Graduating Senior Lucas Saunders reminded the audience that those who knew him in 7th grade probably never thought he'd be standing up here and getting ready to go to college. Today, the Honor Roll student has acceptances from all five colleges he applied to, significant achievements in the sport of wrestling, and thanks in part to the class trip to Cuba, a new appreciation for cultural diversity and connections. Olivia Veale expressed her appreciation for the whole Compass community, stating,

"The people that make up the Compass community are so accepting. Each of the students and educators here have their own glimmer, a vibe that sets them apart. Compass nurtures each glimmer, helping individuals recognize the value in what they have to offer the world. I think the world could stand to learn a lot from this incredible community. No judgement and an overwhelming amount of both vulnerability and transparency. Our planet desperately needs more safe havens like Compass."

The ceremony concluded with the awarding of handmade diplomas, created by Compass students for one another, that represent the distinctive qualities of each recipient. The graduates first see these personalized diplomas when they come on stage — an exchange that recognizes their personal accomplishments and the unique gifts they take with them from their high school experience.

Compass has limited space for fall enrollment in grades 7-12, and is open for school tours

all summer.


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