Returning to our work

BY ASHANI KURUKULASURIYA, HHS CLASS OF 2020

On October 3rd, Holliston High School’s Future Ready Coalition reconvened for their first meeting of the 2019-2020 school year. The goal of this year is to take the raw material that was formulated last June and eventually turn that material into a living, breathing document that stands to showcase what Holliston High School hopes their graduates will someday embody. 

After taking a break for the summer and adding a few new faces into the mix, the group felt a refreshing sense of confidence and excitement as they got back into the groove of drafting their “Vision of a Graduate”. After getting settled, one of the Committee Leaders, Mr. Dominique Trotin, kicked off the meeting by asking everyone to get out of their seats and find somewhere else to sit. Perturbed by this seemingly useless task, the majority of committee members moved their belongings to a new location with a faint grimace across their face. 

“How did that make you feel?” inquired Mr. Trotin. 

The immediate responses ranged from “confused” to “provoked” to outright “annoyed”. Soon, however, the committee understood just why they were just asked to do what they did. Mr. Trotin had used a creative activity to shine light on the idea that change can sometimes be met with feelings of frustration, confusion, and agitation – feelings that were most definitely felt throughout the course of the three-hour get-together. 

The rather vivacious energy that was present as people flowed into the meeting room was slowly dismantled as the work around trying to come up with a solid draft became harder and harder to construct, especially when the committee was told to revisit the work that had been done during the last school year. It seemed as though everyone was in agreement that the material they had to work with had been constructed during the end of the last school year – a time of great stress and fatigue. As a result, many found that revamping the existing material and overall categories was necessary in order to move forward. Back in June, the committee worked to create six categories that contained qualities, characteristics, and skills that were thought to be ideal for a graduating senior of HHS. Below are the six categories and their respective qualities/skills. 

Global Citizens and Connected Learners
Communicate effectively 
Collaborate 
Culturally competent
Bi or multi-lingual 
Connect learning across subjects/world 
Participate as citizens of local and national communities 
Advocates (Character and Agency)
Empathic 
Compassionate 
Self-advocacy 
Service mined 
Ethical 
Respectful 
Responsible
Driven 
Open-minded 
Informed Citizens 
Understand how the world works and how to take care of it through: 
Government/history 
Economics/personal finance
Literacy 
Art and culture
Technology 
Critical Thinkers and Lifelong Learners 
Approach problems creatively 
Think critically 
Adaptable
Resourceful 
Problem solvers 
Resilient Individuals 
Perseverant 
Optimistic 
Possess life skills 
Able to manage time and tasks 
Passion and Purpose 
Curious 
Explorative 
Growth mindset 
Lifelong learning 

While some members felt the document was good to go, others wanted to scrap entire categories, rearrange words, and/or start over. The conflicting ideas were exchanged, prompting Ms. Bottomley to change the original agenda to allow for more flexibility. It soon became evident that coming to a general consensus was no easy task.  To help make the process a little smoother, Ms. Bottomley divided the group up and asked them to use an online platform called “Padlet” to make suggestions for improvement. Many felt as though the sixth category, “Passion and Purpose”, was not valuable to the draft, but instead the material within that category could be better in one of the other five categories. For instance, the words “curious” and “explorative” could be better represented under category one and “growth mindset” could fit better under category four. 

Others debated if using words like “global citizens and connected learners” would truly resonate with the general community of students, parents, and educators. Would the individuals outside of the coalition understand the vernacular of this document? Should the coalition be enlisting help from the greater community? Questions like these were tossed around and helped to pave a pathway for future meetings and discussions. 

Needless to say, the meeting was full of ideas for reinvention, which at times, made it difficult to move forward. The meeting, however, did end on a high note as ideas for the future were discussed. One group was particularly interested in adding an aspect into our ”vision” that acknowledges the importance of a student’s mental and physical well-being. Some individuals suggested methods for visually representing our “vision” by recruiting artistically talented students to create a road, that depicts a student in the driver’s seat, driving towards their happiness. Others mentioned how it would be immensely beneficial to have the input of HHS alumni in order to better define the necessary skills and characteristics of a graduate. The next meeting, which is scheduled for November 12th, will hopefully address some of the ideas that were presented in this meeting and also allow for members to feel like they are moving in a positive direction. 

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