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Celebrating Successes in High School

Much of end-of-year HS ritual feels as though it speaks to measures of progress, from awards to test scores to state championships.  Here in Marburn’s high school, we try to carefully distinguish between progress and achievement, sussing out details of cadence and rhythm so that our feedback will help students grow in their ability to run metaphorical races, not just stagger across finish lines.  

One important set of tools we use are the GLOs (General Learner Outcomes) applied to high-school level skills.  In Advisory, students take stock of their August selves and work all year to push to the next level.  As in the rest of Marburn, the GLOs help advisors develop language and work on developing self-directed learners, community contributors, effective communicators, complex thinkers, quality producers, and effective, ethical users of technology. Many students meet grade-level benchmarks for an outcome or two and progress readily throughout their high school years.  However, when a high-school aged student really needs to grow in a particular area, we are able to focus in on that need, set goals, and work together to help.  For a student who has had difficulty problem-solving, using editing feedback to improve work, or meeting deadlines, developing skills to create sustained new behaviors — and acting on those skills enough times to form a new habit! — is growth worthy of celebration.  At our end-of-year recognition and awards ceremony, we were pleased to recognize 79 cases of growth in target areas. As we move forward, even with a major success, students will set goals again next fall – and continue the process of improving these very important student (and life!) skills.

The other half of the awards ceremony recognizes student achievements, accretions of progress over time.  We proudly recognize recipients of the Headmaster’s Award, Founders Award, Dean of Student Award, Outstanding Academic Effort, Leadership, Self-Motivator, and achievement in every content area.  We additionally recognized five graduating seniors for Latin honors, celebrating their attention to grades over the course of their high school careers.  These achievements call attention to the habits, efforts, attitudes, and values we prize in our academic community.  

For every test which our students take, however, or every summative experience that marks a transition to the next stage of high school, that adult-directed, highly-measured part of high school is only part of the story.  Successful completion of high school is as much about the friendships with peers and adults, the nuanced ways in which students learn to communicate, and their ability to gather together to celebrate and enjoy their community.  Students ended this terrific school year by passing down traditions and reminiscing at the annual year-end breakfast about May Term, the games played in the Ultimate Frisbee State Championship, our recent Prom (more than 50 of our students in attendance!), and all of the other events just since Spring Break. It was truly a magical year!

Ruth Rubin
Head of High School