Class of 2022 Welcome AddressPosted by Eric Juli on 8/13/2018
Welcome to the graduating class of 2022! Welcome to high school. Welcome to Design Lab Early College High School.
Each and every one of you has chosen this school. You’ve chosen Design Lab for different reasons. But all of you are here now. When I say, “the graduating class of 2022”, how many of you think that sounds like a long time from now? 2022 sounds like it won’t be here for forever. Freshmen, every year, just like you, don’t realize how fast high school is. 2022 sounds like the future, but you are only at our school for 720 school days. And if you miss school because of illness or you just don’t come to school-it’s even less. How many of you missed ten or more days of school last year? If you miss ten days of school, each of the next four years of high school, you miss 40 days of school. Now you’re only in school for 680 days between now and graduation. If you miss twenty days of school each year, you will only be with us at Design Lab for 640 days, and you will not graduate from high school. I can say to you with certainty that every single student who missed more than ten days of school last year, failed their required graduation test and failed one or more classes. And most of those students did not get promoted to the next grade.
Do you want to graduate with the class of 2022?
I know you do.
The first step that you have the most control over, is coming to school. If you plan to graduate in May of 2022,720 school days from now-then you need to be in school, on time, all year long. You can be sick. But you cannot miss 10 or more days this year. If you do, I promise you, you will be off track to graduate.
Let’s talk about what high school is and who we are at Design Lab Early College High School.
The purpose of our high school is to prepare everyone in this room to have choices in your future. When you walk across the stage in four years, we want you to have choices. Our goal at this school is to teach you the skills you need to be a participating citizen in your world in 2022 and beyond. Listen to what I am saying. The goal of our school is not to get you a job. The goal of our school is not to just have you pass graduation tests. The goal of our school is to expose you to ideas that will challenge you, push your thinking, and help you make sense of our incredibly confusing world (Lehmann and Chase, 2015). Our goal at Design Lab is to teach you to be a thinker, a problem-solver, and a maker. We believe that those skills, are the skills you need to be an active and participatory citizen when you graduate from high school in four years. And when you walk out these doors four years from now, you will be life-ready. You’ll be ready to do whatever it is you choose and not what you have to do because you don’t have any choices.
Let’s get something important out of the way. Who has a job right now? How many of you do work to earn money? Starting today-you all have a new job. Your job is high school. You may get a second job to make some cash to help out at home or have spending money. But starting today, your job is school. This job is the most important job you have. And it isn’t money you are receiving for your work. You are being paid in the most valuable currency a person can earn; CHOICES. Your first homework assignment in high school is from me. When you go home today, ask someone in your family-your mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle, someone-if they wish they had more choices in their life. Ask that same person or someone else if they have the job they want, they job they love, or the job they need? Every time you improve your thinking, your problem solving, and your making skills, you are building your choices for the future. Every one of you can have a career you choose. That’s incredibly different from having a job you hate but must have. Every one of you can love what you do and do what you love. But only if you have choices.
How many of you think you want to go to college? Raise your hands.
How many of you raised your hand because you think it’s the right answer?
Here’s a different question. Listen carefully. How many of you want the choice to go to college? Every hand needs to go up. How many of you want the choice to have a job you love, instead of a job you have to have? Every hand needs to go up. How many of you want the choice to live where you want to live instead of where you have to live? How many of you want the choice to have choices?
You have 720 days to build the skills you need to have the choices you want. In 720 days, you can leave here and go do what you want to do. Or in 720 days you can leave here and do what you have to do, what you are told to do, or the only things you can do, because you do not have choices.
How many of you have someone in your family who has graduated from college? How many of you have family members that want you to go to college?
How many of you want the choice to go to college if you want to go? Let me see all your hands.
You will hear me say this over and over again. College is not a dream. It’s a plan. College is not a dream. It’s a plan. And the plan starts today. My father was the first person to go to and to graduate from college in our family. His parents didn’t have school beyond 6th grade. And I am standing here as a college graduate and principal of this school. College is not a dream. It’s a plan.
You don’t need to want to go to college today. You don’t have to know that you want to go to college at all. But I’m telling you this. If you want to have choices after high school, every single one of you will need more education after you graduate from high school. That could mean training in the military. It could mean technical training to be a welder, or a plumber. It could be learning to read the codes on the computer to become a mechanic. It could be an associate’s degree at Tri-C or somewhere else, school to become a nurse, or college and graduate school to become a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a successful businesswoman, a designer, an artist or the President of the United States. Whatever you become, if you want to have choices; you will need some amount of schooling beyond high school. So you’re not done in 720 days. Not if you want to have choices. If you don’t want choices, miss 10 days of school or more, don’t plan on doing more school, and have the life you are stuck with; not the life you want. In 720 days, we intend to hand you your first ever diploma. But you’ll need more diplomas after that one.
There are so many differences between elementary school and high school. Here’s the main one. Every single decision you make here matters for your future. Skipping school matters. Skipping class matters. Missing assignments matters. Learning matters. And passing your classes matters. In many elementary schools, you move on to the next grade because you show up. You move on to the next grade because you are nice and sweet. You do not move on to the next grade in high school or at Design Lab Early College High School just because you show up. You earn credit here to move on. You earn credit at the end of December, based on your work in the first semester, and you earn credit in May, based on your work in the second semester. If you do not pass your classes in the first and second semesters, you will not be in the 10th grade a year from today. And more importantly, you will no longer be in the graduating class of 2022. If you fail classes this year, you are likely to become part of the graduating class of 2023. Here’s another difference between elementary school and high school. Passing your classes used to be enough. Passing your classes is no longer enough. You must learn. And you must be able to prove to yourself and your teachers that you have learned it. The curse words that I never want to hear you say are the following. “I am done with my work.” Don’t tell me and don’t tell your teachers that you are done with your work. You aren’t done with your work. No matter what. Handing in the worksheet in elementary school means you finished. But here, in this room, right now, most of you-more than half of you, are reading at or below a 5th grade level. If you want choices; if you want to have the life you want to have. If you want the choice to attend college, if you want the choice to have the job you want and love, instead of the job you need to pay the bills, then you are not done with your work. 720 days is not enough time to do all the work we have to do so you can have the choices you want for your life. So we have to work harder. And you have to work harder than you have ever worked in your life. You will have to earn your high school diploma. You will have to earn the right to be a citizen. You will have to earn the right to have choices to have the life you want to have.
Our theme for the year as a school is, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, then you’re right!” Let me say that again. If you think you can, or you think you can’t, then you are right. Getting to graduation starts with a belief in yourself. And even when you aren’t sure you can do it-whatever it may be, a belief that if you believe you can, will get you started on the right path.
In every class, you will be working to improve your literacy skills. This means working to improve your reading. Improving literacy also means teaching you to remember and to reuse the information you read (Tovani, 2004). Too often, you just read, and say you finished your work. This year, you are going to learn to read better, and learn to remember and reuse the information you’ve read. You will also work harder in math than you have ever worked before. We need to teach you how to answer word problems better. We need to teach you how to answer questions with charts and graphs better. And we need to teach you that math is not just step one, step 2, and step 3. It’s problem solving, thinking, and it can be full of creativity. Math can be fun. This work starts tomorrow. Tomorrow, you will be taking the reading NWEA test and the Math NWEA test. Now, here’s something important about Design Lab Early College High School. We don’t blow off any tests here. These tests tomorrow will determine your 9th grade schedule. So you need to do your absolute, very best. If you were in a Cleveland Public School in 8th grade, we will remind you today of what your score was last spring. I don’t know if you tried hard on this test or not last spring. But every single student in this room will be putting forth their very best effort on this test tomorrow. It’s the first step towards having choices. It’s your first chance to show that you care deeply about having choices for your future in 720 school days.
Speaking of tests. Here’s another huge difference between elementary school and high school. In high school, every test you take matters. When you take the PSAT test this year, if you want the choice to go to the military, the military looks at those scores. If you want the choice to go to college-colleges look at those scores. And in high school, you must take and pass seven Ohio State Tests (OST). These are the hardest, most difficult tests you have ever seen. All your family members who graduated from high school having to pass the OGT, had it easy. These tests are just harder. We have tons of students who passed their classes in 9th grade last year, and didn’t pass their tests. They are not on track to graduate from high school. We’ll talk more in the future about these tests and what you need to do. But these OST tests are a huge difference between elementary school and high school. And to graduate, to have choices in your future, you must pass them all.
In addition to working on Literacy and exposing you to college, and getting you ready for state tests, we want to expose you to incredibly cool work that people all around Cleveland are doing. Some of these people have been to college. Some haven’t. But all of them have found their passion and they are doing work they love each and every day. We connect you with these amazing people through our X-Block. X-Block is why some of you came to this school. X-Block will be on Wednesday afternoons , and it’s your chance to find something new that you can love to do. Maybe it’s 3D Printing? Maybe it’s working out? Maybe it’s Photography? Maybe it’s robotics? Maybe you want to learn to row? Or make something with a blacksmith, or build a piece of furniture for your mother? Maybe you want to make a short film or do digital animation? X-Block offers you the opportunity to do all that and more. X-Block is something unique about Design Lab Early College High School. We’re the only school in the city that has this program. When you wonder why we do X-Block, remember this. We want to expose you to amazing ideas and more amazing people to help you find your passion, so you can connect your learning in school with the world, and have more choices when you leave our school. That’s why we do X-Block. You have to participate, and when you do, you have fun and learn in a way you’ve never learned before. It’s an important piece of what sets our school apart from other schools.
We’re going to lose count of how many times I speak with all of you over the next four years, but one thing is for certain. In 720 days, I will stand on a stage in a beautiful auditorium over at CSU. I’ll be wearing this gown that shows the world that I have choices in my life. And you all will be wearing graduation gowns too. The young men will be wearing royal blue caps and gowns, and the young women will be wearing white caps and gowns. I’m going to start taking your pictures later today and you’ll be wearing a cap and gown so you know what it feels like. And on that stage, I will share with the audience so much of what you have accomplished in your 720 school days. Today, as we start your difficult climb to graduation, I don’t know you yet as individuals. But I will. And I’ll share our common stories together on that graduation stage. Our team here at Design Lab is going to get to know you. Over the next four years, we will laugh together. Ms. Yox will cry with you, because that’s what she does. We will be there for you when you fall, and we’ll pick you up. We will be there for you when you succeed and we will cheer for you. We’ll hold you when you need support. We’ll be there when you are angry, when you feel lost, when you feel joy, when you succeed and when you fail. My job is to find a way to help you so we can hand each and every one of you a diploma 720 days from now. Your job starts today and there isn’t a minute to waste. If you want choices in your future, then start working hard today. We’ll be here to support you, to teach you, to guide you, and to push you. I am so excited about your next four years. Welcome Class of 2022. Welcome to high school. Welcome to Design Lab Early College High School. Let’s get to work.