Schooling Magazine

Eclectic

By Stevemiranda

I was talking to my friend Heidi today and she asked me how the school year has been going. I told her I’m still recovering from an event last week that blew me away.

The PSCS Student Showcase is our end-of-the-year celebration of all the students’ work, but especially the seniors. They each—we have four graduates this year—get some time on stage to present their senior project to parents, alumni, volunteers and friends.

Aaron, a heavy metal drummer whose goal is to become a professional studio musician, showed off the drum set he made entirely by hand. Then, after passing out earplugs, he played two songs for the audience.

Kestrel talked about her growth as a photographer, and how she gradually began to appreciate the beauty of shooting film over digital. Then, she presented a portfolio of her work.

In a stunning presentation, Clare talked about her passion for Renaissance art. She discussed her process of selecting three famous drawings and the painstaking process of creating master copies, done for the purpose of gaining insight into each artist’s technique.

The final student to present, Tristan, shared his passion for video game design. He projected a screen capture of a video game that he created, and talked about his growth as a designer over time.

“That’s quite an eclectic group,” Heidi said to me.

Yes, it is. But it’s no more eclectic than any group of kids at any other high school. The difference here is that instead of telling Tristan that it was time to put away his game video console to prepare for the WASL, his teachers allowed him to teach a class to other students in which they played video games and analyzed their various elements. They allowed him to devote himself to an independent study in which he could teach himself to use video game programming software. He’s graduating in June with a Washington State diploma, and will be enrolling at Digipen Institute of Technology, where he’ll pursue a degree in video game design.

* * *

I had a visitor say to me last week, “What’s your typical student profile here?” I told him that there is no typical student profile. The only thing they all have in common is that they’re all encouraged to be themselves—fully, authentically, inside and out.

To call the PSCS Class of 2011 “eclectic” is a nice compliment, but I can’t help but also see a larger point. It also serves as a condemnation of traditional schools, whose efforts at standardization too often produce graduates with identical transcripts and a hope that maybe, with some luck, they’ll find their true calling when they get to college.

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