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Life Beyond Summit: An Interview with Summit Alums in High School

Thursday, January 18, 2018

As part of Maia’s sixth grade internship work, we decided to interview Summit graduates and alums to find out what life is like after Summit? In our first article we summarized our interviews of two recent Summit grads who are currently seventh graders. This time, we focused on a high school junior and freshman, both of whom attend the Rivers School.

When asked what it was like transitioning from Summit to a new, larger school, they responded as follows. Callie commented that having many classes per day in different classrooms, with different teachers, was very different from the structure of classes and work cycles at Summit. Kevin also noted that having six to eight separate classes was a “huge change”. He followed up by saying that the interactive, engaging teaching styles, both at Summit and at Rivers, made the change “quite smooth”.

Callie noted that the focus on leadership in both schools was a great similarity between the two. Callie stated that because she had been introduced to leadership skills and being a role model at Summit, “I could rise to the challenge of becoming a leader for my peers”.

In terms of making friends in a new setting, Callie felt that because the teachers and eighth graders were welcoming, she quickly felt comfortable. “The eighth graders really helped me feel comfortable, and I strove my eighth grade year to do the same for the incoming sixth graders.”  Regarding making friends, Kevin stated, “My only advice is smile and be yourself!”

When asked about increasing amounts of homework and the addition of more tests and grades, they both felt that the transition was smooth. Callie commented that her love of learning made it exciting to learn, and this helped to motivate her through homework. Kevin noted that in sixth grade at Rivers he had about 45 minutes of homework a night; as a freshman he now has two hours, which “really did not feel like much of a change” to him.

Rivers does not grade students at the middle school level, and both found this helpful.  Both felt that this enabled them to try different strategies and approaches to their work and to studying “risk free”.  According to Callie, “I am not as motivated by the grade as I am by the progress I make in the class.” 

When asked what was the most important thing they took from Summit, Kevin noted that the love of learning is central. “Having a true love of learning makes it so work does not feel like work, in that everything is interesting. I can say that only a handful (of my fellow students) share this skill”.  Callie commented that (Summit) was a second home”. Through this intimate experience she learned a “better sense of self purpose than many of my peers.”  “The confidence I have carried with me I fully attribute to Summit, which allowed me to express myself in whatever way I saw fit.”  Kevin summed it up by saying that if he were to choose an elementary and a middle school for his kids, he would choose Summit and Rivers.  Summit, “because of its concrete to abstract teaching system and independent workplace create well-rounded thinkers and a lifelong love of learning” in all.  Rivers picks up “where Summit leaves off, and creates communal and individual introspectiveness”.