Today is the last day of school for our 12th graders. On June 15th, they’ll be celebrated in LiHigh School’s very first graduation ceremony, to be held in the beautiful Rupert Methodist Church in Rupert, Vermont, which dates back to 1884.
We’re going to miss our 12th graders terribly. They were our very first general-education class, and they’ve not only been our students, but our collaborators in the creation of LiHigh School, taking a very real role in the development of our processes, schedules, and overall culture. LiHigh School would not be what it is today without their help.
Congratulations to all of you, and we can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve done for us and for our — for your — school.
Bradley Marriner transferred to LiHigh School earlier this year, joining us in the Fall. He’s focused his studies on computer programming, participating in an online course at Stanford University where he learned the ins and outs of developing applications for the iPhone and iPad. He is currently in the process of developing an application that will provide daily inspirational sayings to its users. His senior capstone project, which will be held later this summer, is to organize an event in Rutland where budding developers can hear from an experienced programmer on the best ways to begin developing and promoting their mobile applications.
His immediate plans for after he graduates include participating in an internship program that will strengthen his programming skills. The internship will be followed by his enrollment in a program that will allow him to travel abroad. His ultimate goal is to attend Stanford University in the Fall of 2014.
Giulia Rosenthal was the first student to enroll in the general education program at LiHigh School, starting as an 11th grader last year. When Giulia first joined us, she wasn’t sure what her passion was; she had so many interests, she couldn’t fathom choosing just one to focus on. She explored poetry, photography, graphic design, dance, and travel.
But then, this year, she arrived with a plan: she wanted to travel to Italy to volunteer on a farm. After a long and deliberative search for the perfect location, she applied to and was accepted at Forestaria, an olive farm located in Tuscany.
To prepare for her experiences in Tuscany, Giulia participated in an internship at Cerridwen Farm at Green Mountain College, where she assisted in the creation of fences for the livestock, helped with the pigs, and learned to plant, grow, market, and distribute micro-greens from seed.
After she returned from her three-week stay in Tuscany (you can read about her experience in “Forestaria — A Student’s Journey“), Giulia began to work on her senior capstone project, a 25-minute documentary on Big Picture schools in Vermont (LiHigh School is inspired by the Big Picture network of schools). Her documentary was supported by a 10-page research paper on the history of progressive education.
Giulia’s plans for after LiHigh School consist of taking a gap year to volunteer on farms participating in World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a cultural exchange and learning experience that partners volunteers with host farms, exchanging work on the farm for room and board. She also hopes to volunteer abroad, assisting in any way she can. Giulia will be going back to Tuscany for three months in the Fall to volunteer at Forestaria again, but after that, the world is open to her.
Logan Patnaude signed up with LiHigh School immediately following Giulia’s enrollment. In fact, our school began with the knowledge that Giulia and Logan may be our only students. Logan came to us with a passion for photography. He’d participated in an arts program in Maine, and he came out of that experience as a die-hard photographer.
During his junior year, Logan participated in two internships. The first focused on filmography, and through the internship, Logan developed a 45-minute documentary titled, “Made in Vermont,” which explored what it means to be a working artist in the state of Vermont.
His second internship was with a commercial photographer in Manchester, Vermont, who took Logan on catalogue shoots for Orvis, putting him to work as a photographer’s assistant. Logan also studied still-life photography during the internship, deepening his skills as a photographer.
When Logan started his senior year, he decided to switch gears and focus on his other passion: music. He took a course at Green Mountain College about Nature and Music, joined the college choir, and worked for many hours a day on improving his guitar and songwriting skills. In the Spring, he began an internship at the Southview Studio Arts in Middletown Springs, a professional recording studio where Logan was introduced to the technical magic of recording music.
For his senior capstone project, Logan decided he wanted to give something back to the town of Poultney, a town he’d grown to love during his time at LiHigh School. Working with a mentor from Green Mountain College, the Poultney Artist Guild, and students from the college, Logan organized a community art mural that was painted on the side of the Stone Valley Market on Main Street in Poultney. He wrote that his “hope for this mural project was to bring together the different members of the Poultney community to do something positive.” Thanks to Logan’s efforts, Poultney now has a beautiful mural on Main Street.
Logan was accepted to Hampshire College in Massachusetts earlier this year. He has deferred his attendance until 2014 in order to pursue his curiosity about the world. Like Giulia, he’ll be volunteering on a farm this Fall, hoping to travel to California, Hawaii, and New Zealand. His travels will help him learn more about himself and prepare him to be successful in college.
Tom Becker signed up for LiHigh School just a week or so before we opened last year, becoming the third student in our general education program. Giulia and Logan were best friends before they came to LiHigh School, but it wasn’t more than a day or so before Tom became the third best friend in their delightful little trio.
Tom came to us with an interest in the outdoors. He’s an avid hunter and fisherman, but his first love is maple sugaring. He’d been running his own maple operation from the time he was fourteen years old (with plenty of help from his parents, of course), and at LiHigh School, he saw the opportunity to turn that passion into the center point of his studies.
Over the past two years, Tom has studied the history of maple sugaring in Vermont from the time of the Native Americans until today; he’s taken a course in entrepreneurialism at Green Mountain College; and he’s expanded his maple sugaring operation from a few hundred taps to close to two thousand. This year, he was finally able to pay off all the debt he’d accumulated while building his business, and he even put Perfect 10 Maple Products in the black, giving him plenty of opportunities to expand the business next season.
For his senior capstone, Tom volunteered with his family to travel to Haiti to help in the construction of a school. After learning that the people of Haiti struggle for access to even the most basic of medical supplies, Tom decided to coordinate a benefit concert where the cost of admission was the donation of medical supplies such as toothpaste, band-aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. Three different bands volunteered their time to help in the effort, and through his internship at the recording studio, Logan offered to run the sound and lighting equipment. The event resulted in two full suitcases of supplies (which the Beckers brought with them to Haiti), as well as two extra boxes that had to be shipped later.
Tom is planning on heading into the work field right out of high school. He hopes to get a job with an electrician in the Fall and go through the apprenticeship course to get licensed in electrical work. And of course, he plans on continuing to build his maple sugaring business.
Congratulations to all of our graduating seniors!