“We’re no ordinary school,” Edmonds Heights K-12 freshman principal Kathleen Hodges remarked as about 200 parents and graduates began to fill the school’s gymnasium seats. “What sets us apart is the vital role of families – in our school, parents are the primary educators of their children. It takes some commitment, but the rewards are amazing. Tonight we are graduating several seniors who have been with us since kindergarten.
Organized in 1996, Edmonds Heights K-12 specializes in parent-based alternative education. While professors hold classes on campus covering a range of academic and other subjects, Hodges points out that students don’t acquire all of their learning in a classroom setting.
“The primary role of our faculty is to work with parents as an advisor,” she explained. “Each family has an educational advisor, and every teacher here is an advisor. Together with the student, they develop a Written Student Learning Plan (WSLP) that sets out overall goals and how they will work together to achieve them. »
This was very much in evidence during the Friday evening graduation ceremonies, where the diplomas were presented not by school officials, but by the parents of the graduates. And in keeping with the self-directed nature of learning at Edmonds Heights, Friday’s student speakers were not selected by faculty. Instead, students who wish to speak can “self-select” and volunteer as a graduation speaker. This year’s speakers were Gryffon Matthews, Jayla Judd, Chayton Remie and Zeb Schultz. View the full program and graduate names here.
Senior graduates followed the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, taking their seats to be greeted by Hodges, listen to student speakers and view a special commemorative video featuring each graduate in music and photos.
In her remarks as Principal, Kathleen Hodges again emphasized that Edmonds Heights is a family partnership and asked that all parents of graduates stand up and be recognized for the vital role they play.
“It was my first year in the world of alternative learning, and one important thing I learned was that I don’t know what I don’t know,” she explained. “It kept me humbled and curious as I joined this vibrant community that encourages independent thinkers who are willing to live authentic lives, test boundaries, and seek truth. I am truly in awe of these graduates.
Following his remarks, students and parents lined up for the graduation ceremony. The student took the podium on the left, the parents on the right, meeting in the middle amidst handshakes, hugs and a few tears testifying and acknowledging the teamwork, love and dedication that they have brought at this time.
The ceremonies ended with the traditional exchange of tassels signifying the reality of graduation and the exuberant throwing of a sea of mortars into the air.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel