Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Skyline Graduates Its First Class! Happiness!

Tonight was Skyline graduation. For those of us with children who graduated--and that includes the Deputy Superintendent, Robert Allen, as well as myself--it was a very happy day! The event was held in the EMU Convocation Center.  It wasn't as warm and fuzzy as the Community High School graduation I wrote about two years ago, but there were three times as many students, and the arena was much bigger. And as I wrote then, of course it was awe-some! It was my daughter!

So here is my list of interesting/fun/meaningful things about the Skyline graduation. This is mostly random, but of course #1 has to be #1.

Students walking in. The yellow banner identifies the "Small Learning Community."
1. It was the first class to graduate!!!!! This is something those kids will carry with them for  years. I know this because I have a friend whose dad was in the first graduating class of a Detroit high school. He's in his seventies now, but he can still give you lots of details about the experience. My favorite t-shirt that the students ever made was "Even the Mayans saw us coming." Of course, they didn't get to wear that t-shirt at graduation. They wore light blue caps and gowns.

The first person to walk across the stage--my daughter--sits down! (First, by virtue of a last name that starts with "A" and an assignment to the Small Learning Community that went first. In other words, by virtue of luck.)
2. Ms. Jackson had kids with different types of honors and involvement stand up. Sure, there were lots of great students who did lots of great things. But the most impressive thing to me? I was completely blown away by the number of kids who had participated in sports, and then in clubs. It was over 2/3 of the class each time! And in fact, that is one of the reasons that people voted to build a third comprehensive high school--so that kids could have more opportunities for participation!
Todd Roberts on the big screen. And. . .
3. Todd Roberts, the former Superintendent, who was here while the school was being built and for its first three years, was asked back to speak. I thought that was a nice touch for the first graduation. One quote he shared, that he attributed to a science teacher, was "Reason answers questions, and imagination asks them." That was my favorite quote of the evening. (He went on to stress the importance of asking questions. "Ask how. Ask why. Ask why not." As it happens, that is a philosophy with which I am in complete agreement. In fact, that is why I have this blog!
. . . Todd Roberts at the podium

4. I loved the class gift. If you've ever been on the first floor of Skyline, you know that the halls are long (apparently, 1/10 of a mile) and very white. There is one mural completed now, and a second mural on its way. The class gift is a third mural. One student also organized a plaque to leave at Skyline. It has a Dr. Seuss quote (of which I think this is only a part):

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. 

5. The loudest applause went to Jasper Lindsay. He's a student who is in a wheelchair, and he received honors at the academic "pinning" ceremony earlier this month. The students were on their feet and clapping, because--according to the announcer--he trained for three years to be able to walk across the stage to get his diploma. And walk he did!
Jasper Lindsay as he sits back in his wheelchair after walking across the stage!

6. I really enjoyed watching the American Sign Language interpreters. I could see two of them from where I was sitting. Is that standard? I am guessing it was by special request, but I don't know that for sure.
Note the two American Sign Language interpreters. One bottom left, and one in the corner of the stage.
7. Fifty-six percent of the class graduated with academic honors. In fact, 13 students had 4.0 averages. Is this proof there is grade inflation? Yes. (I am not sure if anyone in my graduating class of 262 students had a 4.0). Do we care? I am not sure. Maybe the number of kids graduating with academic honors can be attributed to Skyline's mastery learning approach.

The graduates!
8. Beach balls. There were three that ended up in the graduating student section. You might think that came from the students. At least two of them came directly from the audience! Parents--right in front of me--threw one of them down! Yes, I saw it with my own eyes! Next year, at the end, maybe they should hand out beach balls to the graduates--they are light, they are fun, I believe that no harm was done.
Look in the top left corner and you will see one of those beach balls!

9. Really worth noticing--Band, Choir, and Orchestra each commissioned an original piece in honor of the first graduating class. I thought that was really cool, and I hope they play them in subsequent years. I took some video of that. I just have to figure out how to upload it.

10. And then, it was over. Four years, gone in a flash. And for the seniors, it was on to the all-night senior party. Of course, that's going on now. I hope it goes well. I do know that a lot of parents worked very hard to make the all-night party memorable. And I hope a new Skyline tradition will be born.


  1. Congratulations on the graduation of your daughter! It sounds like a wonderful ceremony.

    - YpsiAnon

  2. Sounds a lot more interesting than the Pioneer graduation. That one was regimented and impersonal, just like the school.