Going virtual has become commonplace in this era of COVID-19, but this — Eagle Rock School’s 80th trimester, saw our staff and administrators organize a Celebration of Graduates for seven of our students unlike any preceding event of its kind.
Normally, such ceremonies take place in our Human Performance Center on campus but, due to the health pandemic, our mountainside campus shut down in early March, with all students returning to their homes in order to prepare for remote learning and ongoing student support.
As a result, we did not have a graduation ceremony last trimester. Instead, we had a Celebration of Graduates.
That meant the 80th trimester Celebration of Graduates, was delivered online via Zoom, on April 10, and featured a prepared video of faculty speeches, shout outs, virtual journals, remembrances, and even advice from the departing grads to their friends and current Eagle Rockers.
Those graduating last trimester include Xavier Hagood-Edmeade, Alizja Serret, Dalan Farris, Burgess “Bea” Cotham, Ay’Niah Rochester, Jacob Israel, and Joyce Page. And while these students missed out on a “regular” high school graduation ceremony, all seven were invited back to “walk” the next time a graduation is held on campus.
What was important for these grads to hear was praise from family members, instructors, and fellow students — all of whom poured themselves into a full-on commitment to earn their high school diploma. For some of these students, graduation did not seem at all like a possibility just a few years ago.
Immediately below is a photo of the seven students who participated in the Celebration of Graduates, followed by a biography of each graduate, which includes information about their major learnings, campus involvement, achievements, and future plans.
Editor’s Note: At the end of today’s post is a video that was presented at the Celebration of Graduates.
Xavier, who arrived at Eagle Rock in the fall of 2016, is from Ormond Beach, Fla., and was a member of Spruce House. He spent much of his time at Eagle Rock committed to leadership and service learning, as well as wilderness education.
Xavier completed his new student wilderness orientation course, a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) horse-packing course in Wyoming, as well as an Eagle Rock veteran-student wilderness course in the fall of 2019. His leadership and service roles included being an intramural captain, a Lead Student Ambassador, mentor, and member of the Mag 7 student leadership team, among many other things.
Xavier recounts the lessons learned at Eagle Rock, many relating to his personal development. He explains learning how to advocate for himself, becoming more patient, and discovering his independence all helped him grow during time with us. All the while, he has held onto a conversation he had with L’Tanya Perkins, our admission associate, during his admission interview. She asked him to “promise me something… No matter how hard this place is, you have to be true to yourself and remember your why.”
And to this day, Xavier says he has committed to discovering and refining what his “why” is in all he does and maintaining his resilience.
Looking ahead, Xavier hopes to spend more time in the wilderness by volunteering for a national conservation organization and completing trail work and maintenance. Following several years of conservation work, Xavier plans to enroll and serve in the military. After all his time at Eagle Rock, he advises new students to “avoid all the drama” and to focus on themselves.
Alizja, who arrived here in the fall of 2017, is from Lynn, Mass., and was a member of Spruce House. She says a defining point for her at Eagle Rock was getting involved and taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to her.
Among her major goals and learnings was developing confidence and leadership skills. In line with this, she jumped into numerous leadership roles and classes. She has served as the Continue reading…