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Graduation Panels Begin

Graduation Panels Begin

Each January, Mead Eighth Graders begin a six-month journey of inquiry-based mastery and self-reflection as part of the school’s graduation requirements. Graduation Ritual is designed to be the most challenging process a Mead student will experience. It is also the most significant in solidifying a sense of academic confidence and independence in our students.

Graduation Ritual encapsulates a series of challenges that lead up to Graduation: Mastery Challenge, Reflection Essay, Reflection Piece, and Graduation Ritual Panel. It is a valuable and rewarding tradition that requires each student to synthesize different elements of their Mead education and to reflect upon how they have grown. Students are asked to use all available resources (staff, parents, Mead community members) to support their efforts and to produce their very best work. This part of the Mead journey is intended to be rich in personal growth and a deep reflection of their Mead education. Each Graduation Ritual is individualized and intentionally unique.

To guide students through this five-month project, students select a staff member to help support them. This “Support Person” is there to offer encouragement, feedback, and advice and meet with the students at least once a week throughout the Graduation Ritual process.

The Four Components of Graduation Ritual


Students are asked to select a curriculum area that is especially meaningful to them, in which they are already proficient and would like to demonstrate mastery. A Mead teacher will create a Mastery Challenge for them, one that requires each student to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. Each specific Challenge will include a project, research, essays, and/or some creation to demonstrate their strengths in that curriculum area and how they move forward to meet the challenge. Formal writing is always a required component. The Challenge Curriculum Director will establish separate deadlines that are specific to the Mastery Challenge. Mastery work must first be presented to the teacher who created the Challenge. Once it is clear that the student has thoroughly and successfully completed what is asked of them, they will demonstrate and defend their work before the Graduation Panel.


Each student must write an in-depth essay about their Mead School experience where they are asked to reflect on their Mead journey. Graduates will write about their social, emotional, and academic growth and challenges. Ultimately, students are asked what is personally meaningful to them and why. This essay needs to follow all MLA rules and expectations of a formal essay model. A typical Reflection Essay is approximately 10-15 pages.

Listed below are the required elements and essential questions for the essay:

I. What is your history at Mead? Discuss important elements, people, social/learning/emotional challenges, and activities during your years at Mead.

II. What kind of a learner are you? Describe yourself in terms of learning style or preferences, the Seven School Skills and what they mean to you. How will you use this knowledge to support you in the future? What specific learning challenges have you faced at Mead, and how have you met them?  What did you learn about yourself in the face of these challenges?

III. Where do they want to go with your life? What are your values? What are your goals for study, career, and life style?       

Once approved, the Graduation Reflection Essay is submitted to the Graduation Panel for their review and questions.


The Reflection Piece is expected to be an artistic representation of the student’s Reflection Essay. We ask graduates to demonstrate their journey in an artistic medium of their choice. Students must create a piece that symbolizes them and their growth at Mead. They will also write an Artist’s Statement describing the medium, process of creating the piece and the symbolism therein. Graduates will present the Reflection Piece to the Graduation Ritual Panel and speak to how this work symbolizes their reflections and then engage in a dialogue with the Panel about the presentation.


At the end of this four-month process, graduates will meet with the Graduation Ritual Panel to present a Mastery Challenge Response, Reflection Essay, and Reflection Piece. They will be asked questions about their work, mastery challenge, and personal process at Mead. This year, the Panel includes: Peter Herzberg, Joanne Costello, Lisa Corner, Amy Parker, and the Mastery Challenge teacher. Each Support Person will also attend this part of the Graduation Ritual to offer guidance and advice during the panel.

We wish our eighth grade class all the best with their panels!