Out of curiosity, I went around and asked all our students “What would/should a graduation process for ALC look like?”
Here are the answers I got:
- There should be a test to see how long you can play Minecraft.
- There should be a test to see if you can survive after drinking a 5-hour energy drink.
- There should be a test to see what you’ve learned. You take it when you turn 18, because that’s when other schools graduate people. Or maybe you just graduate when you turn 18. Or maybe you graduate when you turn 25, so more of your brain is developed.
- There is a student chairman who decides whether someone is ready to graduate or not. The student chairman is @douglasawesome until he graduates. His successor is determined by an all-student competition measuring efficacy at the game Werewolves.
- There is a ceremony where the graduating students wears a tuxedo and walks across a stage. They shake Abby and @ryanshollenberger’s hands, kiss @tomis’s hand, and then receive an ALC tattoo on their forehead, from Ryan. This is after they have blogged every week for their final month.
- The student designs and constructs a custom hat. A panel of 3 facilitators judges the hat to decide if the student is ready to graduate.
- The student decides what kind of graduation party they want, plans it, and throws it for themselves, with the community’s support.
I hope you laughed reading these 🙂
I also hope you re-read them and pick up on some exciting depth and potential. Hear the distinction between approaches where the student graduates versus the ones in which the student is graduated by community members? Notice the recurring proposal of an obstacle/task/project that the graduate takes on as they prepare for their transition?
We decided yesterday to convene a graduation group to start creating a process. We’ll meet twice a month, with the goal of bringing a proposal to the assembly meeting in May. We’ll talk about graduation versus moving on//leaving//transferring, a process leading up to graduation (How does a student declare their intention to graduate? How far in advance? What kind of personal challenge//vision quest should they take on?), and the graduation ritual itself (Who are our gatekeepers, deciding who does and doesn’t become a ‘graduate’ of ALC? What does the send-off ceremony+celebration of a person taking a new step in their life look like?). We’ve already discussed doing more independent brainstorming about a relevant ritual, reading some Victor Turner, researching various coming-of-age and identity-transitioning rituals, and learning what various free schools//unschooling groups//intentional communities that incorporate young people have developed over time.
Should be interesting…I’ll keep you posted!