On Friday, June 7, Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa will hold its first graduation ceremony. This is not your ordinary celebration, but one that marks the first Quest Forward Academy class to receive high school diplomas. For Santa Rosa Counselor Heather Concoff, this means imagining an event that is unique to the Academy, its community, and its students; for Graphic Designer Amy Maxwell, it inspired the creation of a one-of-a-kind diploma.
How many students are graduating?
Heather Concoff: We have 8 students graduating!
How will Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa’s first graduation be celebrated?
HC: On graduation day, June 7, we will celebrate the grads in both a personal and communal style. Graduates will wear traditional black caps and gowns with 2019 tassels. Juniors will greet, then seat, their friends, family, and Quest Forward community members. We will distribute our graduation program. 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students have all been invited to the graduation, and we will have pins for them to display their class years.
After the audience is seated, each grad will file in to live guitar music. There will be a video highlighting of each graduate and a music video. Then we’ll have a few speakers—School Director Karen Kenkel for sure, as well as a main speaker—the record-setting, ultra-endurance wheelchair athlete André Kajlich. Each student will also have the opportunity to speak. They are busy working on their speeches!
Each mentor will then talk about a senior, who will then be presented with a yellow rose and their diploma. At the end, they will be confirmed as grads and they will throw their caps in the air.
Our location is the nearby, beautiful Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center. We will graduate inside the hall. It has a lovely outside patio and garden where we will host our cake and punch reception. The Seniors have made a playlist of their favorite songs for the reception. We’ll take photos, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate this transition for the graduates and our accomplishments as a school.
How much of a part do students have in the planning or participation in the ceremony?
HC: The students have been a part of EVERYTHING: from the cap/gown choices to the cake choices, location, music, whether they give speeches, etc…. Nils [Palsson, mentor] and I have been shepherding them. We will also have a senior breakfast on the day prior to graduation, and ice cream at rehearsal the day of graduation.
How many students are going to college or school-based training after the Academy? How many are going directly into the working world?
HC: Of the 8 students, six will go to 4-year colleges, 1 will take a gap year and then go to art school, and 1 will go directly into a construction training program and work.
Are you putting a ceremony in place that will remain the standard for coming years, or will every year be different depending on the students?
HC: We expect to be able to reuse the caps and gowns, so that will be set. I think the venue will be good for another year, as our rising Senior class will be about the same size. Perhaps we will be able to do more of an art show/reception if the students are interested, and expand the reception time. We’ll see what they want to do.
Get an Inside Look: Designing a Diploma
By Amy Maxwell, Graphic Designer
While there is no right or wrong way to design materials for a high school graduation, we found a few key pieces of inspiration led the way. This June, eight students will graduate from Quest Forward Academy in Santa Rosa and we think that’s pretty cool. This will be the first graduating class from a Quest Forward Learning Academy.
We wanted the diploma design to not only show that Quest Forward Academy truly is a new kind of high school, but also to pay homage to the tradition of celebration and ceremony that takes place during graduation. The design was created to be clean and timeless, in hopes that students would be truly proud to hang these on their walls, and of course pose for a few photos with them. In the context of this design and its important symbolism, we used a bold San Serif type for each student’s name and also for “High School Diploma,” which evokes a feeling of finality and accomplishment.
It was an honor to prepare graduation materials for this special group of students, and we send them on their way with well wishes—and in style.