Being a member of the first graduating class is more than just a title, 18-year-old Megan Nason has learned.
“You’re a little bit of a guinea pig, working hard and setting the course for future students to succeed,” she said.
Nason is one of 13 seniors who will receive a diploma from Launch High School on Saturday. They are the inaugural group to graduate from the state-authorized charter school that opened in 2016 at 3115 Larkspur Drive.
“It was a hard, trying process, and those of us who stuck it out are the most devoted ones,” Nason said.
She wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The high school “for the tinkerers, dreamers and innovators” fit Nason better than any other school.
“When they were giving me the pitch, I had this whole list of everything I didn’t like about regular public school,” she said, such as “they didn’t promote creativity.”
At Launch, “Everything I had on my list got knocked off,” Nason said. “It’s more of a personalized school where education means something. It’s a place I could actually learn my own way.”
Launch focuses on instilling the spirit of entrepreneurship. Projects are laid out for the year, and students work at their pace, with teacher support. Focus areas teach students what they need to know to complete projects.
“It’s not like endless lessons on the same thing,” Nason said. “It’s so much easier to learn, and the teachers really want us to succeed.”
The program melds the pursuit of knowledge, skills, values and good habits with real-life experiences so that by the time students graduate, they exhibit all those qualities, said founder and Head of School Patrick Cush.
“It all goes together with project-based learning that’s experiential,” he said. “Not a mindset that you go to school for 16 years and then get thrown out into the world. We put you into the world gradually, through more experiences.”
Students are guided to find out how to “plug into their passions,” said Principal Heather Fubelli.
“In high school, the thing that makes you different and special is the thing you try to hide,” Cush said.
“We’re giving kids the opportunity to be themselves and show us who they are and not get lost.”
As part of the curriculum, students work with personal learning coaches, create for-profit and nonprofit enterprises, are paired with community mentors and complete internships — not at big companies but at startups and mom and pops.
Nason already is a serial entrepreneur, having started a textile business, crocheting and knitting teddy bears and animals, then dipping into the art of candle making and finally opening a student-run coffee shop and cafe inside her school.
This week, she passed on the cafe operations to younger students.
“This year, I wanted to leave a legacy,” Nason said.
“They don’t wait to learn or be told what to do,” Cush said of students.
“They’re ready to go out and make something in the world and not be a slave to someone else’s dream.”
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