Significance of a Distinctive Diploma

RayWhat does high school graduation mean to you?

With a myriad of opportunities, expectations, and results, your high school experience and graduation can stir many different emotions and feelings.

At the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS), we look forward to honoring and celebrating our graduates.  Here I want share some of my random thoughts on high school graduation and specifically graduating from UNHS.

Graduating from high school is a part of the transition of becoming an adult. It is an important milestone to celebrate and also a good time to . . . .

Reflect on your high school experience and recall the good, and not so good, times. However, whatever you have for past memories it is soon time to get on to the next step, which could be . . .

Attending a two or four year college. Since UNHS is a college preparatory high school, this is the path for most of our students, but not for everyone.  Some students . . .

Do something else. Whether it is joining the workforce, the military, taking a gap year, or another route, for their life path. This happens because . . .

Unique individuals make up a graduation class. Isn’t it great that students are distinctive and do not all have the same interests? In fact, at UNHS our graduation class is made up of . . .

Athletes, visual and fine art students, homeschoolers, students from public and private schools, students with health conditions, highly gifted, and don’t forget we serve . . .

Traditional and non-traditional students. Many UNHS students complete their high school program in the typical four years or less, but some graduate later in life. Also, not all are U.S. students . . .

International Students are an essential part of UNHS. At least half of our UNHS graduates are located outside the United States. No matter where our graduates are from, they have this in common . . .

Online courses with the University of Nebraska High School. The state of Nebraska currently has a tourism slogan of “Honestly, it is . . .

Not for everyone.” This statement may also be true for some students who may be considering UNHS, but UNHS is an integral pathway for our honored graduates.

So back to my initial question . . . What does high school graduation mean to you?

Finding Students’ Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

As a long-time educator, I am constantly aware of the importance and the responsibility I have in making sure the doors of opportunity are wide open for students, regardless of their educational situations or circumstances. But to get their attention, we have to pique their curiosity and engage their spirit.

Students arrive in our classrooms with so much individuality, wide-ranging different backgrounds and experiences, but somehow great teachers present their course content in what seems like magical ways to pique interest, stretch imaginations and challenge students to learn more.

This is actually exactly what the fine folks at NASA have been doing for many years through the Mars rovers.

On January 4, 2004, the rover Spirit landed on Mars and worked diligently for us for more than six years to cover 4.8 miles of the Mars surface before getting its wheels trapped in the planet’s sand. Even then, it adjusted itself to act as a stationary science platform to help us know more about the planet. NASA stated that Spirit completed its planned 90-sol (day) mission and actually functioned effectively over twenty times longer than expected!

The next rover to land on Mars was Spirit’s twin, Opportunity. Landing three weeks later on January 25, 2004, Opportunity ran around the planet, covering more than 25 miles, close to a marathon. It is still operational and mobile, celebrating its twelfth birthday today—a pre-teenager!

Opportunity
Mars Rover Opportunity at Rock Abrasion Target ‘Potts.’ Source: NASA Mars Exploration, Retrieved January 25, 2016.

Curiosity went to Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, and continues to operate today. It withstands slightly extreme weather environments that we are not used to, built to work in between -197 degrees Fahrenheit through 104 degrees—and it has no coat, gloves or hat!

Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity are more than land rovers on Mars—they are definitions of the characteristics that we want to plant in students every day. We want students to:

  • Grow their spirit and enthusiasm and be life-long learners.
  • Engage with zeal in the moment of discovery as they unwrap.
  • Adjust to situations with positivity and a good attitude.
  • Work hard and delight in their success.

Teachers and parents play a critical role in building the learning spirit that lives within each of us, and when observed we must recognize its priceless value.