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Graduation Letter Sent Home Today

April 3, 2015

Dear 8th Graders & 8th Grade Parents:

Your middle school days are almost history.  While one might be tempted to dwell in the lovely memories – resist – there is still work to do!  Here is what you can look forward to, over the next few busy weeks.

8th Grade Portfolio Exhibition – May 6th

The 8th graders continue to work to prepare their graduation portfolios for presentation on Wednesday, May 6th.  They have been working on these since before Winter Break, however, many still have much work to complete in order to present successfully.  Here is a link to an online description of the portfolio process:

On that first Wednesday in May, students will be assigned a 45-minute time slot for their presentations.  Please note that 8th graders have to be at school on that day (May 6th) only for their assigned time slot and for any portfolio presentation they are attending as a peer observer.  A portfolio scheduling form will be sent home on Monday (April 6th) to be returned by Friday (April 10th).  We will be notify students/parents of the time slot for their portfolio presentation – the following week.

Portfolio presentations will be assessed by their Portfolio Panel consisting of their Advisor, a faculty member, family member(s) and a 6th or 7th grade peer.  Friends may attend the presentation as non-judging guests.  Successful completion of a Portfolio and Portfolio Presentation is a requirement for promotion.  Students who do not receive a passing score will be given a second chance (scheduled for the week of May 11th).  Although somewhat stressful for our graduates, we know that this process is an amazing learning experience!  Here is a link to a downloadable description of the portfolio presentation process:

8th Grade Promotion Ceremony – Thursday, May 21st

The 8th grade promotion ceremony will be held at The Historic Y in the ZUZI! Theater at 6:00pm on Thursday, May 21st.  All students will be released early that day at 1:45pm (instead of Wed) to give us time to prepare for the evening’s festivities.  A committee of 7th graders will be planning the ceremony.  Eighth graders may invite up to 6 people, including family members.  If this limit poses a problem for your family let us know – we might be able to find a few extra spaces.  The program will last approximately an hour and a half with a pot luck reception held afterwards in the Historic Y Courtyard.  We suggest bringing dishes as follows by last name:

A-B Sides & Salads

C-M Main dishes

O-Z Deserts & Drinks

Gateway Week – May 18th-22nd

The staff is reworking the schedule for the last week of school – our “Gateway Week” – so that students can complete their final exhibitions of class work and we can wrap up the week in a fun and memorable way.  Our all-school award ceremony will be held this year on Thursday, May 21st from 1:00-1:45.  We will be presenting the following awards:

  • Grade Level Academic Recognition
  • School-wide Habits of Heart & Mind Awards
  • The Paulo Freire Freedom School Awards will be given later that evening at the 8th grade Promotion Ceremony:
    • To Know (All-Around Academics)
    • To Dream (Social Justice & Environmental Sustainability)
    • To Rise (Recognition for Growth)


Last Day of School – Friday, May 22nd

Friday, May 22nd is a short final day for the 8th graders.  We are asking 8th graders to report to school at 10:30am.  They will leave at around noon to go to the Tucson Racquet Club for their 8th grade Graduation Party (12:30-3:30pm).

Student Success

While most of our students are on track academically, there are a few for whom the Gateway Week is particularly challenging.  Our goal is to help all students successfully complete the year.  During the last few weeks we will be using Learning Labs and Literacy Time to provide students with extra support.  We also may require students to work during lunches or after school if the additional time is necessary.  In these cases we may be contacting families in order to coordinate efforts in this final push!


How Can You Help?

  1. Portfolio Assistance – The week prior to Portfolio Presentation is particularly stressful for our 8th graders.  In the past we have had a parent or two help students manage the organizational part of their portfolio.  This work will largely be done during learning labs from 2:30-3:30.  If you are interested in helping out, let us know.
  2. Send baby pictures – A special part of our Promotion Celebration is a slide show of each of our graduates when they were little.  If you could send us baby pictures ASAP, we can begin putting that together.  (You can email electronic copies or bring in hard copies that we can scan into electronic copies and give back to you).
  3. Portfolio Presentations – Come and celebrate your child’s growth and successes!
  4. Promotion – We need folks to help with set-up and clean-up (call the office 624-7552 to sign up).  At the very least, bring a pot luck dish to share.


This is always a momentous occasion for our school.  We will be terribly sad to see our 8th graders move on – but we are also very proud of them and fully expect that everyone will keep in touch!




Santo Nicotera, Co-Director

Paulo Freire Freedom School – University

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