9 things our graduates take with them

Posted by Rebecca Moore - 04 May, 2015

suitcase_bannerOur seniors are ready to go, off to college, and into the rest of their lives. Our alumni tell us they feel they have been well prepared for the journey, but what exactly do our graduates take with them from their time at Randolph?

We drew up the packing list and asked students in Graphic Design II to represent each item with an object our graduates will put in their metaphorical suitcase.

1. Character

FullSizeRender (6)“I did a moral compass to illustrate always going in the right moral direction and having character. For example, when we go off to college, we will have decisions to make. We should maintain our morals and remember what we have been taught to keep our character oriented in the right direction.” - Carson Hall ’17

Throughout a student’s time at Randolph, the importance of honor and integrity are at the heart of the experience. The Honor Pledge hangs in every classroom. An important rite of passage for 9th graders entering the Upper School is the Honor Code Orientation, where they sign their names, pledging to uphold the honor code. In the Upper School, a student-elected Honor Council takes responsibility for the administration of the Honor Code and community education. They speak with the student body about the importance of going to school in a community of trust. These expectations are introduced even to our youngest students.

Alumni have gone on to share this tradition at college, and whether or not a college operates with an honor system has been an important aspect of the selection process.

The Upper School holds yearly honor orientations and invites presenters who speak to the importance of character. Discussion topics in advisory or at Community Time often touch on these themes. Community Time—when the Upper School comes together for performances, announcements, and discussions—is an important part of the week and makes up about 25 hours a year.

Most importantly, having an Honor Code creates an environment within each class that is most conducive to learning. Everyone trusts that they will do their best to get the most out of each class meeting, and that the feedback being received by each student was the feedback they earned.

Randolph doesn't just produce scholars; we educate people of integrity.

2. Empathy

Empathy-01“My classmates and I chose shoes because feeling empathy is equivalent to stepping into another person's shoes. We thought of Toms, because when you buy a pair of Toms, another pair is sent to a child who is in need of shoes.” - Hattie Crosby ’15

Randolph students think about others. From learning to be a good friend in Lower School to gaining a deeper appreciation for the lives of others. Through service and community learning experiences, literature and classroom conversations, school trips, topics in advisory, guest speakers at Community Time, students are encouraged to see the world from alternate points of view. Art students take part in the Memory Project. Students plan fundraisers and lead spontaneous events to support friends, teachers, and causes. The Youth Leadership Council’s involvement in tutoring programs with Village of Promise or their Community Fund Benefit Concert, gives Upper School students the opportunity to write grants for community impact. Upper School students also gave 900 hours to many different community organizations on the annual Day of Service during Homecoming this year.

3. Mentors


“I chose the image of the Legacy Coin to represent the educational journey each student takes, and the meaning of each student's legacy. The imagery is important to each student because, as seniors, we give our coin to a teacher or individual who has made a significant impact on our education." - Cannon Sloan ’17

Our graduates leave for college knowing first-hand the value of forging relationships with the teachers and adults in our community. It is through these relationships that a love of learning is fostered, from Kindergarten on up. Every student has an opportunity to work individually with a faculty or staff member, or coach. When they go to college, Randolph alumni know the value of office hours and getting to know their professors.

At the Senior Breakfast in May, each senior receives a book, which has been personally inscribed by a member of the faculty or staff. Every member of the senior class is also given a Legacy Coin to present to someone—a friend, mentor, teacher, coach, family member—who has had a positive impact on their Randolph journey. The hope is that this tradition instills the magnitude of gratefulness and reciprocity in the lives of our students and among the members of our school community.

Mentors ask hard questions. All 9th graders are assigned an advisor, with whom they will meet with every day during their four years, individually and in small groups of about 10. These meetings may be brief attendance check-ins, a casual chat, or a longer conversation. Advisors hold weekly meetings on more substantive topics, too, such as values, ethics, goal-setting, and current events. At 65 minutes per week for 36 weeks a year, advisory groups meet for 39 hours per year, or 156 hours per four years in the Upper School. In the course of an Upper School career, a student will have 720 face-to-face interactions with his or her advisor. When we say that students are known, challenged, and loved, advisory is one of the ways we keep this promise.

Academic counseling goes hand-in-hand with college counseling. Freshmen just attended their first meeting to plan for the college application process, meeting with a Sewanee admissions dean. Juniors attend five hour-long sessions of college counseling in small group seminars. Every Randolph graduate will have also spent a minimum of two hours meeting individually with his or her college counselor. For some, this could be much more time, up to 50 hours.

Randolph has two college counselors. For a class of 91 we have a 45:1 ratio, which is the norm in independent schools and what ACCIS (The Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools – we are the only ACCIS member in North Alabama) recommends. The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250:1. The Alabama ratio is 420:1. The national average is 470:1. (These statistics are all from NACAC.)

This senior class applied to 171 colleges in 38 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico; and three foreign countries, with an acceptance rate of about 76%. This year’s information is not yet complete, but last year’s senior class of 82 students reported more than $5.7 million in merit-based, four-year awards.

Our graduates are curious, confident, and have an appetite for learning. They have chosen a college carefully, with good advice about financial aid and merit scholarships. They know how to seek help and find mentors, all of which contributes to a successful college experience.

4. Critical thinking skills


“I used a magnifying glass to represent critical thinking and the ability to ask questions because it is portable and easy to access. At Randolph, we are like detectives while solving problems or answering questions.” - Brooks Johnson ’17

We strive to unlock the learning potential in every student while creating a mindset that is open to new possibilities. Randolph’s inquiry-based learning approach focuses on posing questions, problems or scenarios—rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge. Our students and teachers focus on the why and how instead of the who/what/where/when in their topics of discussion and study. We have a robust science lab program and this hands-on experimentation allows students to take theory into practice.

5. Time management skills

Danielle-01“Since Randolph is so small there are a lot of opportunities for kids to get involved in activities. Most students take advantage of that, which makes for a very busy schedule. At Randolph, we have learned how to balance all our activities, like music, sports, and clubs, while still keeping focus on our school work. That’s why we thought a planner would show the skill of time management. It literally shows a student who has many obligations and is managing time equally between them.”
- Danielle Lioce’ 15

Our graduates know how to find a healthy and productive balance between arts, academics, athletics, and other activities. Research projects and other work with long timelines teaches students to plan their time. The English projects done in 11th grade require students to plan and schedule interviews for research and field work, an aspect of the project many found more challenging than writing the paper itself. In the class of 2015, 62% participated in athletic teams, and 73% of the class is involved in the arts, nearly half in both; 43% of the class was recognized as scholar-athletes, with GPAs of at least 3.5 for three quarters. Randolph’s Upper School rotating schedule, Late-Start Wednesdays, and senior privileges (seniors in good standing may leave campus during the school day) teach students about the value of their time, the responsibility they must take for their own schedules, and the freedoms they will experience in college and beyond.

6. Global perspective


"We believe the image of a name tag represents our global perspective because students at Randolph are always ready to obtain knowledge of different cultures, viewpoints, and languages in order to be a more culturally aware and understanding community. One way we learn about different cultures is through foreign language classes. These give us a broader, more critical view of experience, knowledge and learning, and include seeking to understand the links between our own lives and those of people throughout the world."
- Cannon Sloan '17 & Danielle Lioce '15

Our graduates see the world through many lenses and appreciate its diversity and complexity.

Interim trips, whether local or international, help students understand their own context and how they fit into the vast world.

Nearly a quarter of the senior class come from cultural backgrounds that are not or are not solely American, and 30% identify themselves as being something other than white/Caucasian. Research indicates that diversity promotes creativity and creates deeper and more thoughtful classroom conversations because students are more conscious of their own biases and they are exposed to more viewpoints.

This year’s seniors have shared their perspectives on culture, religion, ethnicity, and politics through presentations, debates, TEDx talks, art, blog posts, Interim journals, and Capstone presentations.

Randolph students begin their study of world languages and culture in Kindergarten. During Lower School they will take both French and Spanish, choosing a language in 5th grade to continue through Upper School, when they also have the option to study Latin. Randolph requires three and recommends four years of a language for graduation. Some of the students involved with tutoring locally do so in Spanish.

7. Lifelong friendships


“I chose to use an old teddy bear to reflect lifelong friendships because it is something that will stay with a person throughout their life. I sketched in patches to further show the age and faithfulness of the bear, which suggests it has spent many years in the person's care and, because it is being packed for college, will spend many more.” - Drew Hoyt ’16

Being part of a K-12 community gives students an ongoing sense of where they are in the journey of childhood and school to adulthood. Our Kindergarten-Senior Buddy program connects our youngest students to the oldest in a tradition that is now seeing a third generation enter. Some of these friendships continue after graduation.

The relationships with teachers and coaches are the bedrock of the School. It is through these relationships that learning happens, and interests and talents are nurtured.

All graduates of Randolph automatically become members of the Randolph Alumni Association. The purpose of the organization is to support, connect and engage alumni with one another and the School. There are many ways for our alumni to stay connected and to serve the school, starting with Senior/Alumni Day, when our seniors hear about the college experience from our most recent graduates and then attend small group discussions with older alumni about different career fields. We help our seniors set up LinkedIn accounts and, as alumni, they have access to an extensive network through an alumni app. We have 2,379 alumni, about half of whom live within 50 miles of campus; the rest inhabit 46 states, a few are abroad. But no matter how far you go, Randolph will always welcome you home and your Randolph friends are your friends for life.

8. Self-worth


“Mirrors are the way you view yourself, and how you see yourself is the base of your entire personality.” - Evan Lake ’17

Randolph has long stood against a cultural drift toward mediocrity and standardization. Instead, we start from the premise that every child matters as a unique individual.

Throughout the K-12 curriculum there are opportunities for students to merge their own interests and skills, but this opportunity is most profound in their junior year, when all 11th graders do an independent inquiry project, either the iSearch or the Ethnography Project.

There are two special opportunities to see the work that Randolph seniors have produced at the culmination of their Randolph experience. Seniors enrolled in the Capstone Senior Seminar present their Capstone Projects. These are unique endeavors that demonstrate interdisciplinary academic excellence on topics of interest within the study of a period of time, this year the Modern Era. These projects synthesize deep learning with the creation of a work. The second opportunity is the Senior Art Expo, where students showcase talents that have been honed at school, or share a talent they have pursued elsewhere, such as dance or piano.

Our graduates leave with a strong sense of who they are and what they can accomplish and offer to a community. They have learned to appreciate their own talents and those of others.

9. Teamwork


"I chose to use a barrel of monkeys to symbolize teamwork. My classmates and I felt that the monkeys showed many characteristics of what exemplifies teamwork: helping each other, and working together as a unit to achieve a common goal." - JR Reese '16

Collaboration is a crucial skill students will need for future success in school and career.

Athletics are an important component of an education because they teach teamwork, discipline, commitment, perseverance and fair play. Student-athletes have a responsibility to manage their time in order to commit fully to their coaches and teammates and meet the obligations that come with team participation.

The arts also offer valuable experiences in collaboration and teamwork. Upper School students have access to a professional stage in the Thurber Arts Center, where they take ownership of the shows as stage managers and student directors. They are involved in all aspects of production, including direction, lighting, set design and construction. Since its opening in 2009, students have created a Venetian palace, a country house with secret passages, and the streets of Victorian London. Most recently a cast and crew of more than 130 students, from grades 1-12 put on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, led by a student director and student stage managersAs Director Connie Voight says, she and Musical Director Chris Walters, “are simply facilitators.”

Athletic teams and performance groups provide valuable experience in this area, but being able to work well with others is also an important part of classroom and extracurricular experiences. Students learn that they not only have the option to, but are expected to impact and transform their community. From a small committee of 4th graders petitioning for gluten-free pizza to Upper Schoolers initiating and leading clubs, students realize possibilities in a dynamic environment. The Youth Leadership Council, the Student Government Association, and the Honor Council provide a more formal avenue of leadership within the Upper School.

In terms of elected positions (class officers, Honor Council, Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Youth Leadership Council) there are more than 50 opportunities for students in the Upper School. There are additional leadership opportunities within subject-area Honor Societies (Mu Alpha Theta, Foreign Language) and student-organized clubs (33 this year). We have 35 ambassadors (two head ambassadors this year), as well as team and band captains.

Randolph not only provides extraordinary opportunities for our students, but great responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is a commitment to community. Day of Service, part of our Homecoming, exposes students to areas of need within our community. This year, 278 students and 24 faculty members took part in 12 service opportunities, giving approximately 900 hours of service to their city.

A senior class gift is another way for students to realize their potential impact. This year, a group of seniors volunteered with the Alumni Office to plan and implement new student/alumni programming.  One of the projects of focus was the Senior Class Gift. The group, now known as the Cupola Club, generated one of the most successful class gift campaigns in Randolph’s history  and will hopefully serve as a model in the years ahead. Their idea was to establish a fund in support of the freshman class interim trip. The class reached 97% participation and almost $7,000 in commitments, which equates to nearly $1,400 a year in support of the freshman class trip in each of the next five years.

Finally, the graphics for this blog post were created by the students in Graphic Design II, working as a team to develop an overall concept and then offering individual pieces within that idea. Real-world projects in Graphic Design have included designing logos and materials for local companies and, most recently, our students designed the School’s signature print piece, the admissions storybook, a yearlong project which involved the entire School community contributing through the hashtag #rstories13. This post was also a team effort among a group of teachers and administrators, who worked together to come up with the idea, and then involved the students.

Over the next few weeks and into the summer, we will celebrate the accomplishments of our newest graduates, including their Capstone Projects, their contributions to the Senior Art Expo, and thoughts about their Randolph journey. Meet the Class of 2015 on Instagram or search using the hashtag #rgrads.

Join the conversation! If you are an alumnus/a or the parent of one, what did you or your child gain from their time at Randolph? Click here to submit a comment, or leave a comment on this post, or share a picture on Instagram, Twitter or our Facebook page, and tag it #rgrads.

About the illustrations: "After deciding what would represent the 'thing' seniors take with them, we brought an object from home or found it in the theater department prop room. We then arranged each 'thing' and took multiple shots. After deciding the best one, we placed those photographs in Adobe Illustrator and made the sketchy looking drawings to help fully represent the entire scope of what we were trying to communicate. The sketch in blue seemed to represent what Randolph adds: the 'Character' in the compass, the question in the magnifying glass. Without the blue of Randolph, they are just items," explains Peter Townsend, Upper School art teacher.

Contributors to this post were Rusty Allen, Robin Barr, Glynn Below, Joe Freeman, Ryan Liese, Lauren Mosley (and she made the suitcase graphic), Jenna Pirani, Amy Scoggins, and Peter Townsend. 

Topics: 12th grade, Academics, Admissions, advisory, After, art, Arts, Athletics, character, college, community, Community Learning, creativity, friends, graduation, #rgrads, teachers, People

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