By Ashani Kurukulasuriya, HHS Class of 2020
The innumerable changes that have been taking place in society on a social, educational, and technological front have inspired Holliston High School’s administration to construct a group of diverse students, faculty, and community members in an attempt to try and dramatically rethink the way education is being provided to students. There are approximately 30 members, or “visionaries”, on this new committee known as the Future Ready Coalition. All members are involved with Holliston Public Schools in some manner; each member is also dedicated to helping facilitate meaningful conversations revolving around the vision of a Holliston High School graduate and how the community can help to foster an environment for growth mindsets, valuable learning experiences, and endless opportunities for all of the students.
The coalition first came together at the end of March without any concrete expectations — the meeting consisted of ice-breaking activities that allowed for its participants to gain a sense of familiarity and comfort prior to exchanging their ideas and thoughts of reinvention. Thanks to the welcoming environment and standards that were set in place, the members found themselves situated in a “safe space” — a place where they can freely express their thoughts without hesitation or fear of being ridiculed. The three-hour meeting also consisted of activities that pushed everyone to think critically about what specific characteristics they value in others and how the school can utilize nontraditional approaches to help students acquire these traits. Holliston took inspiration from schools/districts including Shrewsbury High School, Fairfax County Public Schools, and Evergreen Public Schools, all of which have already juggled with the idea of what a graduate should/could look like. Some interesting questions that prompted serious thought included the following:
- What are our highest hopes for what we want our graduates to be able to do when they leave here?
- What are the skills that are required at various workplaces (technological/medical, educational, financial, creative arts, etc.)?
- What are other schools doing? How can we be different? How can we take inspiration from others?
Particular members shared that their hopes are to ensure that all students leave the walls of Holliston High School as “globally aware, civically minded, and problem-solving individuals.” Other members shared that they would like to see students ready to take on jobs that involve “strong interpersonal skills, organizational skills, and a technological aptitude.” Everyone in the room was well aware of the fact that these questions have no right answers – and that is okay because the goal of the coalition is not to be right, but rather it is to be ready for a series of trial and error “experiments” in hopes of challenging the traditional approach to schooling.
The subsequent meetings were quite similar to the first one in terms of the questions being asked and the conversations that were being held. With each meeting inching closer and closer towards a final draft of what the typical Holliston High School graduate should look like, members found themselves engorged with feelings of skepticism, fear, and trepidation. Hearing from students and faculty alike in small groups, however, allowed for feelings of fear to be exchanged for excitement and optimism for the future.
The future seems very bright for this committee and Holliston High School. Their ultimate hope is to have a “…living and breathing document” that outlines the vision of a Holliston graduate. In other words, they not only wish to pin down their hopes and wishes for their graduates, but they also hope to make that wish a reality by doing whatever they can to get themselves to that point. In the upcoming weeks, the group plans on gathering feedback from graduated Holliston seniors and hearing about how their high school experience equipped, or did not equip them, for the world outside of secondary school. The group also plans on taking field trips to various workplaces to see how work environments have changed over the years and from that, they hope to engineer new and innovative ways to help high schoolers be ready to take on this evolving world.