Dear LHS Class of 2016

I sit here on a beautiful sunny spring Friday morning reflecting on last night’s Senior Capstone Exhibition and I can’t help but marvel at your creativity, determination, preparation, presentation and appearance. You did something that in the past has rarely been asked of our students accustomed to sitting in classrooms, consuming information, and repeating it on written tests: You selected a topic you were passionate about, applied your knowledge and skills along with research, and demonstrated to us what you learned by making, creating, and doing. It was an engaging evening and I saw many of you in a whole new light, leading me to believe that the world of tomorrow is in good hands.

Our senior project has been around for at least the past eight years beginning with a simple research paper,  but last night you took it to a whole new level. You should take pride in knowing you’ve made an impact on your school that will benefit younger students who follow in your path for years to come. This year we’ve already begun seeing other examples of even our youngest students designing, creating, making and doing in a variety of different learning spaces,  but you’ve provided a new target that redefines for us what “capstone” is meant to be:

…a capstone project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students…Capstone projects are generally designed to encourage students to think critically, solve challenging problems, and develop skills such as oral communication, public speaking, research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, or goal setting—i.e., skills that will help prepare them for college, modern careers, and adult life. In most cases, the projects are also interdisciplinary, in the sense that they require students to apply skills or investigate issues across many different subject areas or domains of knowledge. ~ http://edglossary.org/capstone-project/

I like to think that the success of last night is the mark of a unique Lee High School class that will almost certainly experience success as you walk out of school for the last time this coming week. I feel I share a bond with a significant number of you that began the day you entered pre-school at the Early Childhood Center. That was also the day I came home to the community I grew up in and began my journey as a Godfrey-Lee administrator. You were the first class of students to move into our new 6th Grade Campus and were part of the leading edge of technology integration into nearly every phase of your learning since. As one of the largest ever graduating classes at Lee High School, you were an important part of our district’s effort to elevate learning and achievement so that your high school would no longer be considered at the bottom of the state’s ranking system. You did it along with your teachers and with the support of your parents, so now you are well-positioned to leave here with the knowledge and skills you need to achieve your dreams.

I won’t pretend that all of you are at the same level of readiness for the world ahead, but where you are at this moment is not all that important. What is important is for you to realize that each of you has talents and gifts you can now build on to choose whatever path will guide you to your dreams. Just because you are not the top student in the class is not a barrier to what you can yet become. Like all humans, you have great potential that you have not yet realized and the more you believe in yourself and confront head-on any challenges that will continue to shape your destiny, the more pleasure and satisfaction you’ll derive along the way. It won’t always be easy because life has a way of testing our resolve. However, I believe the Rebel way of life and the education you’ve achieved so far has set you on a road to potential success.

On behalf of the Board of Education, administration, faculty, staff and the Godfrey-Lee community, I wish you well and look forward to shaking your hand one last time at graduation.

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About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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