George Lucas Educational Foundation

Making Meaning of High School With Self-Reflection

Building a tradition where high school seniors share a personal narrative has helped this school community honor each and every student experience.

December 6, 2023

In many high schools, only the top few highest-performing students get the chance to give a speech sharing a reflection on their school journey. But at Casco Bay High School, in Portland, Maine, every graduating senior experiences this opportunity. Through a series of introspective writing exercises, students craft a speech to deliver to an audience of classmates, family, and the greater school community that helps them make meaning of their four years of high school and look to the future with confidence. The result is a powerful, joyful event—and an established rite of passage that the school’s younger students look forward to. 

Says high school senior Kaya, “Now that it’s done and I performed it, [I know] I wouldn’t have been able to be successful without being pushed. It’s the genuine care and love that the teachers have because they want you to succeed. They know your greatness and potential.” 

English language arts teacher Susan McCray, who supports and guides the students as they write their “final word” narratives, believes the experience is transformative for the students. “Every single kid is heard,” she says. “And cherished, in that moment. Right? Loved, in that moment. Because that’s what happens up there.”

To learn more about the research behind the practices seen in the video, check out the links below. 

Casco Bay High School

Public, Suburban
Grades 9 - 12
Portland, ME

Edutopia developed the Making Learning More Playful series with support from The LEGO Foundation.

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  • School Culture
  • 9-12 High School
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