We had our second graduation since we opened in 2015! Our one and only graduate was given the freedom to design his ceremony, even down to what he wore. He insisted on a black cap and gown and even chose his march in song, which I was “People Get Ready” by Seal. We never tell our students the format, but through a discussion of what they envision for their ceremony, we help them pull it together. (I will sure be glad when one of our graduates decides to do something completely non-traditional!!)
One funny moment is when his mom called us and asked us to have him wear a blue gown. When we talked to him about it, he was resolute and said, “I AIN’T wearing no blue gown! I’m wearing a black gown and blue tassel!” LOL! We love that he felt freedom to say that. He is 18 for goodness sakes! I also love how his mom supported his final decision and just rolled with it.
Another beautiful moment was when students of all ages, staff and family gathered around him to pray for him. Students from ages 4 to 18 laid hands on him and wanted to pray for this young man. We all prayed for him as we gathered around him in a circle. It was so organic, and so beautiful.
We will miss him, for he was such an inspiration to all of us. He came to us 2 years ago and wanted a different learning environment. His last year with us, he did an apprenticeship at a local nature center, where he volunteered 2 days a week. We are proud to say that they want to hire him as official staff, which is exciting to us because of his intense love of animals and caring for them (he has 5 bearded dragons!). We don’t know where this path will lead, but we know he is ready to take on the world!
It’s the end of 3 years. We can hardly believe it! We can also hardly believe that we are actually going into year number 4! Only God brought us this far. It has taken us 3 years to finally settle on the logo that we feel represents who we are. When we first started there were of course no students so we just put something together that we thought represented what we stood for, but it did not take us long within the first year to realize that original logo did NOT capture the unique philosophy of the school.
Into our second year, we tried again and although the community liked this logo better, it had nothing to represent the students and again our philosophy. It was just only “Christian.” Don’t get me wrong! We are proud of our faith, but our school has a very central focus on students and how they grow, live and learn. We kept this logo for the next 2 years and continued to toy around with how this new logo should look.
Students insisted that we keep a logo with a cross, but find some way to show the students. Then one day it hit me as I watched students playing by the pond and climbing their favorite tree that sits by the pond. Every day they go out, they hang out by this tree. They climb it, make swings on it, sit under it. Watching them enjoy this freedom opened my eyes to the beauty of the school. The freedom for kids to be kids, to get dirty, to climb trees, to look for tadpoles in the pond. This tree and this pond are really quite symbolic of our life here at the Living Water School. So why not make our logo represent that?!
The tree by the water. Thinking of that causes me to think of several verses: “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…that bringeth forth its fruit in its season.” (Psalm 1:1) and I also think of “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you…then you will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5). This is the heart of everything to us. We have a deep respect for the Sudbury Model and because of that respect and because of it being a model that encourages schools not to adhere to any type of religion, we simply say we are mainly inspired by this model, but within the context of our faith and Biblical beliefs. Even still, students attend our school who are not Christian because part of our philosophy teaches the importance of giving students the freedom to choose their religious path. We also strive to respect all people regardless of what they believe. This is why there are no formal Bible classes or theology that is taught. The environment is Christian and the community only comes together once a day to have devotions in the morning, but further Bible study is a choice with one of our ministers.
We do believe that children should be free. They should be free to learn as God created them, free to pursue their interests and passions, free to have a voice in how their school runs, free to figure out their own personal relationship with God….they should just be free! However, as a Christian school we seek to inspire students to explore freedom within a Biblical context. I think finally after 3 years of this journey we have finally found the logo that expresses who we are and the freedom in Christ our students enjoy every day.