Personalized kudos, poetry, and gratitude are the hallmarks of Paulo Freire Freedom Schools’ eighth-grade graduation. Our graduation ceremonies exemplify our commitment to honoring each individual student. Instead of just receiving a diploma and a handshake, each Paulo Freire graduate is honored with a unique poem written by the staff. The poem is read aloud and printed as a keepsake.
Graduates also choose a staff member, friend, or member of the community to give them kudos– a speech about all the amazing things that make them beautiful, powerful, and unforgettable. Finally, each student is given the opportunity to express gratitude to all the people, pets, places, and food items that helped them along the way. Our graduation ceremony is rich with laughter and tears, celebration and joy.
Each year, the staff also present awards to a handful of students for their amazing achievements. These awards are To Know, To Dream, and To Rise.
The To Know award honors academic excellence. This year’s recipients were Nigel Van Pelt from PFFS-Downtown and Rosa Sagarin from PFFS-University.
The To Dream award honors excellence in social justice and environmental sustainability. Fran(k) Heightchew Howard earned the award from PFFS-Downtown. At PFFS-University, the To Dream award for social justice was given to Isobel Manar-Fike (right) and the To Dream award for environmental sustainability was given to Gabriel Sensibar (below).
When students show tremendous growth over their time at Paulo Freire, they are awarded with the To Rise award. The To Rise award celebrates the development of a growth mindset and the creation of positive change in one’s self. The recipient of the To Rise award from PFFS-Downtown this year was Xzania Flenory. Ziv Belfer-Johnston earned the To Rise award at PFFS-University.
We honor and celebrate all of our students. We are grateful for the impact our staff, families, and community partners have on the growth and development of each and every person who attends PFFS. Thank you graduates for your lasting contribution to our schools. We wish you the very best of luck as you all rise up to high school.