Rise Up to the Community - Rise Up to the Challenge - Rise Up to your Responsibility
Meraki is an independent study high school that focuses on growing self-starters, independent thinkers and responsible young adults. We offer a blended approach to learning which includes small group and/or individual projects, interest-based assignments and online courses. Students are assigned to a small advisory group and are paired with an advisor who will co-create their learning with them all four years.
I love the idea around our school mascot, the phoenix. It is one of renewal and rebirth and this year has been one of the most challenging examples of this philosophy of ours around overcoming. The students, families and staff have all been amazing and they have all risen up around these challenges over this year. My message last year was all around a year of firsts; in so many aspects I was like so many of our students starting school last year as Year Ones. Fumbling through and learning by doing, learning by failing forward, even as the pandemic hit us as we ended our school year, we quickly adjusted to the “new normal”. Our students left campus last year for Spring Break, not knowing that it would be their last time on campus for the year, and our first graduating class - our Year Fours - went off to their next journey. I know this year was not what we all wanted it to be, but as I hear about other schools or other student experiences, I can’t express enough how proud I am of our students.
Now having finished my "Year Two", I look forward to this coming year evan as we reflect on last year. I love how much our students have achieved in the shadow of COVID. More than a third of our students Rose UP to the Challenge of Academics and took this rare opportunity of distance learning to take several college courses at the local community colleges. Other students stepped up and took on leadership positions and organised events for our community to participate in or started new clubs or lead zoom meetings to bring our community closer together. Other students Rose Up to the Community by bridging the gap between those who have little community by writing letters of encouragement, others have put themselves out there by being mentored by Rotary Club members, still others have volunteered to support a local elementary school classroom. There are so many other examples this year where our students have given back to the community that builds them up and supports them. All of our students have Risen Up to the Responsibility of owning their academics and learning! Typically it is already challenging to be a Meraki student, managing your learning while being guided by your Advisors. This was a challenge even in person, but even more so while we have been in distance learning. Students have had to take on an even larger responsibility concerning their learning. Looking forward to all of the great things in store for our students in this coming year.
I will say the best day of the year last year was when students returned to campus - so positive and resilient. Starting this year was even better! Looking forward to being back with students even in our new hybrid schedule. We did this, not only for COVID but we learned some great lessons over the last year on what students are able to do from home.
Even with all of the social distancing expectations and mask wearing, students jumped right in and again shifted gears and adapted. My heart still aches for the students who suffered over the course of these last couple years, but I am seeing how resilient they are. In years to come, we will look back at this time and realize that it defined you. But for Meraki students, better yet, my hope is instead that YOU will define this time! I hope that you will Rise Up - Rise from the ashes of last year to create, explore, to reach out and to connect.
Meraki students will be some of the best prepared students to go out into this constantly changing world.