Every year, the East Grand Board of Education invites graduates from the previous year to give a presentation to the board about how the graduates feel they were (or weren't) prepared for life after high school.
On Tuesday night the board listened while representatives of the class of 2011 spoke about their post-high school experience. The former students presenting were Janni Conrad, Arielle Steinberg, Katharyn Woodard, Samantha Miyauchi, Samantha Berggren, and Suzannah Mikol.
Most of the group attends out-of-state colleges, ranging from Washington to New York. Their majors include environmental studies, psychology, international business, and Spanish, in addition to pre-med tracks.
"You guys want to know everything?" Mikol asked skeptically, to laughter around the room.
"I felt adequately prepared for college," she continued, while admitting that her college workload was heavier than high school, and more knowledge of study habits would have helped.
Berggren and Miyauchi agreed, while Woodard praised several of her high school teachers, saying that she'd felt "completely prepared" during a semester abroad in Spain.
Steinberg and Conrad also praised their instruction in the Spanish language.
"We are all way ahead," said Steinberg.
Conrad, who jumped right away into a 300-level Spanish course, easily excelled.
"I was very grateful to the Spanish department," she said.
"We had some amazing teachers," said Mikol. "They made us care."
Similar praise went to the dual-credit system, which helped some of the graduates bypass beginning level college courses for higher levels. However, many of the out-of-state schools did not accept those credits, leading the graduates to mention that the availability of more Advanced Placement (AP) classes would be helpful.
Tom Sifers, president of the board, asked the graduates what the school could have done better to prepare them for college. The graduates mentioned several areas for improvement, including strengthening the social studies program, emphasizing focus on Critical Thinking and the arts.
The main discussion for improvements focused on assistance for high school students in applying to college. Each of the graduates recited their stories of confusion and frustration with the application process, and the wish that they'd received more guidance in that respect.
They expressed concern for this year's graduates, and offered several ideas for improvements.
Finally, the group of graduates sang the praises of the junior class River Trip.
"It helps with everything," Mikol said, from making friends, adjusting to school and gaining confidence.
"It really helps you break down those barriers," said Conrad. "I'm grateful to those relationships."
"Those things you can't teach in the classroom," Steinberg added.
The board thanked the graduates for their time and the insights they provided.
"You are really shining stars of Middle Park," said Jane Harmon, former Middle Park High School principal, now Granby Elementary School principal. "We're really proud of you."