The First-Ever Quest Forward Graduation

On the evening of June 7, 2019, Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa Director Dr. Karen Kenkel, in accordance with the laws of the state of California, conferred the Academy’s high school diploma to the eight students comprising the first graduating class.

With this beautiful, emotional ceremony, the students marked a major milestone of a process they started years before: to become intentional life-long learners, and to gain the habits and skills that will enable them to develop a sense of purpose, and to create value in their life ahead.   


The ceremony mixed playfulness and seriousness, reflecting the spirit of the Academy. There was an undercurrent of the importance of individuals to take charge of their lives, and to understand that the greatest limitations they face will likely be the ones they place on themselves. Commencement speaker Andre Kajlich, who persisted through a devastating injury to become the first solo hand-cyclist to complete the 3,100 mile Race Across America, highlighted this theme.

The students spoke with gratitude of others who had impacted their lives. The most touching moment may have been from a graduate who kept tearing up as she talked about how she never thought she would make it to graduation, but that if her parents were willing to take the risk of moving to the US for her to have a better life, she owed it to them to get her high school diploma. Now she is off to nursing school.

Graduate Jennifer speaks about how important her parents were in getting her degree.

As the students received their diplomas, mentors took turns telling personal stories about the students, underscoring the defining moments in their educational career, and illustrating the uniquely personal nature of the Academy.

Listening to students, mentors, and parents at the reception afterwards, it was clear to all in attendance just how powerfully the team at the Academy supports the growth of its students. It will be exciting to hear from these students again in six months, after they have started college and have had a chance to reflect on their Quest Forward education.

Browse our photo gallery below to see more from this great event.
Graduate Anna poses with her family.
Substitute teacher Patrick plays guitar and sing during the ceremony.
The Class of 2019 watches a slide show presentation that looks back on their time at Quest Forward Academy.
Graduate Benji poses with Santa Rosa Director Karen Kenkel.
Mentor Nils Palsson shares memorable moments about the graduates.
Graduate Lexiana receives a rose from Mentor Jordan Bulger.
Director Karen Kenkel hugs graduate Chloe after she receives her diploma.
After the ceremony the new graduates, their families, and their friends gather for a reception with cake and other refreshments.
Graduates Cameron and Chloe pose together after the ceremony.
Graduate Jayson shows off his graduation cap.

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