Anna Sophia Safranek was having difficulty keeping her composure as she described nearly losing her life in a surgery a couple of years before. “From that time, I realized life is a gift,” she said, tearfully.
Fellow seniors and a school staff member listened sympathetically as the exchange student from the Czech Republic recounted the traumatic incident. On this last day of school for seniors, Anna and classmates shared short autobiographies with school board members, administrators and staff as part of an annual portfolio day capping their school year.
Information technology specialist Marcus Morris, sitting across from Anna, said he’d also had a brush with death, when he was born. The sudden realization of one’s mortality, he told her, “can shake you to the core.”
“You have such a deep value for life,” Morris told her when she concluded her presentation. “That’s going to carry you far.”
From résumés and influential books to college and career plans, seniors share their school experiences and future aspirations in this annual capstone of English 12 classes, which include a 10-week unit helping students prepare for the workforce (see related story). The day-long session, which this year included about 160 seniors, gives students an opportunity to put class skills into action as well as reflect on their school experience, said English teacher Shelli Tabor.
“This is the first chance they’ve actually been able to sit down with somebody who’s on the board or in administration and tell them what they think, what they valued, and what they really appreciated about their high school,” Tabor said.
School board member Michelle Gallery attended this year’s session, and was impressed to see students having broader perspectives on their options than she did at their age.
“Northview’s mission is preparing students for life’s next step,” Gallery said. “I feel like through this process they’ve started to take some of those reflections and really explore their world to figure out, ‘What could the next step be for me?’”
This year’s students wrote reflections on the Holocaust, letters to freshmen and to political leaders. Anna wrote to state Rep. Chris Afendoulis about the dangers of e-cigarettes, while her thoughts on the Holocaust and World War II reflected the experience of her once Soviet-occupied homeland.
“People are different all over the world,” Anna told her group. “One thing is similar: We are humans, and when we come together it is so powerful.”