An Alzar School Graduation

Alzar School | 27.05.20

On Wednesday, May 20th, students, families, teachers, and administrators gathered to celebrate the learning and growth of the Spring 2020 student cohort.  While this ceremony occurred over Zoom, the power of our close-knit and supportive community was evident throughout the evening.  An important tradition within our graduation ceremony is the speeches that our faculty mentors give to their designated advisees (or “mentees” in Alzar School parlance).  These speeches highlight the unique experiences of each student, showcasing moments of achievement and sharing important stories from the semester.  These speeches are a chance for mentors to convey what is truly exceptional about our students to the greater Alzar School community.  After each speech, raucous applause from the audience filled the air and students left the ceremony with a well-deserved sense of pride and accomplishment.

Included below are some notable excerpts from our graduation mentor speeches:

At the beginning of the semester, I told Madi that I wanted to learn three new things about her at every weekly mentor meeting.  She told me, “not unless I learn three new things about you, too.”  While this may seem like common decency, frankly, this surprised me.  Day one is not when teenagers show interest in their teacher, or counselor, or trip leader.  The excitement and anxiety of stepping so far out of your comfort zone almost always overpower this curiosity, at least for a few days. But not for Madi.  Over the course of the semester, Madi has never failed to ask me how I’m doing, no matter how great her need for support.  She expresses gratitude in so many different ways.  Madi you have a rare gift for selflessness, a talent for seeing the unspoken needs of others, and the ability to be deeply reflective and thoughtful, as well as beautifully weird and silly.  You make every single person in this community feel loved and appreciated.

– Lee Timmons (English Teacher)

Recognizing each Spring 2020 student during our graduation ceremony.

Abby, I’ve been consistently impressed by you.  You came to Alzar School to find out who you could be in a new community and you glimpsed a version of yourself that was freer, more inspired and more in control of your life than you ever felt before.  I think what was most impressive to me was how you came to manage that newfound freedom and control, that more space for thoughtfulness, intention and compassion for yourself.  How beautiful and how important that is, self-love. Abby, I hope that you never forget how this semester made you feel, not so that you can dwell on a bygone time, but so you can wholeheartedly pursue this feeling again in the future.  

– Auriona East (English Teacher and Teaching Fellow Coordinator)

Taking turns hearing each mentor’s ode to their student mentee.

The first thing I knew about Gunnar is that he specifically requested a physics teacher as his mentor, which I took as a great sign.  I wish that at his age, I had half of his curiosity and love of learning.  During our first week of physics class, I was excited to assign an excerpt from a book called “How To” and it turned out that Gunnar had already read the entire book.  During his time at home, Gunnar has taken it upon himself to learn music theory, play the accordion, run most days, and even begin to design a ventilator.  Not to mention a thorough reading of classics and delving into philosophy.  Gunnar, it has been an honor and it has been great to mentor you this semester.  I expect great things.

– Michael Jorgensen  (Math and Science Teacher)

Zoom screenshot of just a few of the families who joined in to celebrate Semester 16.

The graduation ceremony closed with remarks from Head of School, Sean Bierle.  In his address, Sean encouraged students to “look around for the work that needs to be done,” noting that they “are so poised right now to make a difference [in the world] with the skills that they have.”  While the Spring 2020 cohort has finished the semester program (although we are quite hopeful that many will rejoin us for the summer expedition block), we are quite confident that their leadership journeys have just begun.