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December 6, 2019 | Abby Hall Choi
As we prepare young people for adulthood, school exhibitions are a reflection of adult practice. Consider how gymnasts train and prepare for a demonstration of their skills and abilities or how a researcher presents her work in science as the oral defense of a doctoral dissertation. Even obtaining a driver’s license requires demonstrating competence in operating a car and knowing the rules of the road. Our graduation requirements represent a broad range of evidence for a student’s readiness and competence for many of life’s demands, including high school level work.
Exhibitions also put students at the center of the process: they are given the opportunity to thoughtfully prepare and defend what they have learned through demonstration, conversation, and written material. This process of presenting and defending one’s work before a group of peers, parents, and teachers is tangible, interactive, and consequential.
There are eight domains for the school’s graduation requirements: Visual Arts, Music, History and Government, Leadership and Service, Mathematics, Science, Literature and Writing, and an area of choice. These exhibitions are presented to a committee during the 7th and 8th grade school years. In each exhibition, students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of essential questions, critical and creative thinking, alternate perspectives, relevance, and connections. In other words, students need to show themselves to be individuals who are well prepared to do high school work and more.
These exhibitions of student achievement are part of the graduation requirement. While the graduation standards apply to all students, the way they present their work certainly varies according to individual interests and strengths. In this same spirit, students with special learning needs and disabilities may require modifications of this process to take into account the ways in which they can best show their work. When a student needs such modifications, the committee is informed before the presentation. Rubrics also communicate the expectations that must be met in each domain.
What happens in an exhibition? In an exhibition, each student will perform an on-demand and/or planned task, as well as present a portfolio, project, or artifact, which shows evidence of learning in important areas. As students present their ideas and work, a committee of adults, including a family member, an advisor, and teachers, will view the evidence of the student’s work. Teachers and advisors will then determine whether academic expectations have been met or whether more work must be done before graduation can be awarded.
The Art Exhibition (November); History (February); Science (April); Literature & Writing (June)
The Art Exhibition (November); Service & Leadership (January & February); Mathematics (April); Final Project (June)