The Mead School



Magical, challenging and powerful.

These words, from graduating students, best capsulize the Graduation Mastery experience. This rewarding tradition gives eighth grade students the opportunity to synthesize the different elerments of their Mead education and to see for themselves how they have grown and how far they have come. To say it is an exciting and challenging experience would be a gross understatement.

The Graduation Mastery is, simply put, our graduates' capstone project. This project is likely the most challenging process a Mead student will experience. It is also perhaps the most significant in solidifying a sense of academic confidence and independence in our students.

Expectations are held higher than ever:

  • Students must stay in dialogue about the evolution of their project and process.
  • Students must be able to articulate the steps taken throughout.
  • Students must be prepared to answer a wide range of questions during their Graduation Mastery Panel.

Mead has taught me to want good challenges and take them head on. Mead has taught me to do my best work and only my best.  Alumni Class of '08


The Four Components of the Graduation Mastery

I. Personal Reflection Piece

Individually, students must create something that symbolizes themselves and their growth at Mead. Whether or not a student has been here for two or ten years, the personal reflection is meant to illustrate how each student has grown and changed during their tenure at Mead. The personal reflection piece can take the form of art, drama, dance, writing or music. Over the years, students have chosen all of these forms. Students must be prepared to speak and answer questions about their work in front of the Graduation Mastery Panel, comprised of The Head of School, The Home Center Director, The Director of Admissions, The Mastery Challenge Teacher, The Graduation Ritual Facilitator and each student's Support Person.  They also complete an Artist’s Statement that accompanies their reflection piece.

II.  Reflection Essay

All students write a formal essay that describes how they see themselves at this time, the direction they wish to proceed in life as well as how they have woven the seven school skills into their learning. The essay includes the students’ understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as a learner and what they think the impact of these qualities will be on their future education. Additionally, students must identify what they believe has been the most meaningful contribution to their development at Mead. As with the personal reflection piece, students are expected to discuss their essay with the Graduation Mastery Panel.

I learned how to express who I am rather than pretend to be someone I am not.  Alumni, Class of '06

III. Curriculum Area Mastery Challenge

Students select a subject area that is especially meaningful to them and, within it, the desired challenge through which to demonstrate mastery.  The Home Center Director matches the student with the best Curriculum Director for that particular challenge.  The Challenge CD creates the Mastery, along with  the deadlines for each stage of the challenge. The student presents their challenge to the CD; it is the Challenge CD’s responsibility to determine that the student has completed all requirements. Then, the student is asked to demonstrate and defend his/her Mastery Challenge before the Graduation Mastery  Panel.  At this time, the student also defends his/her Reflection Piece, Artist’s Statement and Reflection Essay. No two challenges look alike, even within the same curriculum area, because the staff customize the challenge according to each student. 

IV. Graduation Mastery Panel

Each student meets with the Graduation Mastery Panel to present and defend his/her Reflection, Essay, Reflection Piece, Artist’s Statement and Mastery Challenge. The Panel is prepared to pose questions about the work presented and the personal process involved. The student receives feedback from the Panel. Lasting approximately one hour, the Panel engages each student in a rigorous discussion about the work presented. Once the Mastery is approved by the panel, the student is approved for graduation.


Mead gave me the tools I needed to really know who I am. My Mastery Project, although difficult and challenging, showed everyone who I have become. I am proud of it and me.  Alumni, Class of 2016