What keeps PBL teachers going?

There are no valedictorians at High Tech High.  All students have the opportunity to speak during the graduation.  In 2006, graduating senior John Horn gave a graduation speech that everyone couldn't stop talking about for years to come.  He graciously gave me a copy before he left.  These are his words...     NOTE: Every link goes to a different "Easter Egg" on HTH.  

GRADUATION SPEECH | John Horn HTH Class of 2006

On the first day of school as a freshman I walked in our building and thought I was inside an airport.  The fact that an airplane goes over every ten minutes began reinforcing this notion.  I found many like myself bound for destinations and in line for tickets to the college of their dreams.

While I waited in line for my departure I met people from all over the world, Americans, Germans, Filipinos, Mexicans, Vietnamese, Iranians, Croatians, and the list goes on.  I didn’t know anyone in line with me, so I attempted a conversation.  Before I knew it I had learned everyone’s name, where they were from, and where they were going.

There had been a weather delay and so we met some of the pilots and flight attendants.  They taught us of all the places they’ve been and flights they had flown, through project-based learning.  While we were waiting many of our flight plans had been canceled and Chris White our flight director [Director of College Admissions] rerouted us, telling us not to panic.

It has only felt like hours since we first arrived here and yet many of us grew tired of the food court and gift shop and began eyeing our flight paths anxious to leave.  Now as we all must go to our own terminals for our departure we think about the strangers in line with us.  They are no longer strangers, they are all characters, with names, families, and personas attached to them.

We have waived off friends and family before but now that we are being waved off we see how attached we have become to the pilots and their hands on approach to teaching us.  Some of us may be sharing the same flight and some of us may be venturing solo.  Many of us won’t know where were going until we get there.   I’m not even sure where this analogy is going. [Crowd couldn't stop laughing]

When writing this I realized that this is what High Tech High is all about.  We have enough freedom to do things that get us excited and take a risk at being creative. This is the emphasis that has rubbed off on all of us. 

Thanks to Gary Jacobs and Larry Rosenstock we have this creative freedom to scuba dive and create bio-diesel cars in Chemistry, apply Math through rock climbing, publish a world renown field guide in Biology, Submit movies to film festivals for Art Credit, Compete in robot competitions for Engineering, and share poetry at local venues in Literature. 

Many of us have saved precious time by finding our calling though these projects and internships, and will use that time to follow them.  I will miss all my fellow passengers, High Tech High class of 2006, but thanks to all of these excellent pilots and flight attendants who work long hours and get very little sleep, the only thing I won’t be missing, …. is my flight. [Crowd couldn't stop smiling]

Thank you John for refueling our jets. Come on!  I couldn't resist. [Readers start to booo]