(Fairhaven School has just graduated seven students. As a way to celebrate the class of 2009, over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the theses that they successfully defended. Below is a brief description outlining how somebody earns a Fairhaven diploma, followed by the fourth thesis. Enjoy!
Students who have spent at least three years at Fairhaven School may earn a diploma by defending the thesis that they have prepared themselves to become effective adults in the larger community. Diploma candidates must declare their intent to graduate and answer questions at a special winter Assembly of parents, students, staff and public members. They also meet with their individual graduation committees, and defend their written theses before a Diploma Committee made up of three experienced staff members from other Sudbury schools. A majority of positive votes from the Committee is the final requirement of the diploma process.)
‘How have you prepared yourself to be an effective adult in the larger community?’
There isn’t really a way to define what an ‘effective’ adult is. Everyone has a different perspective on the subject, but no one can honestly set a solid definition for the term ‘effective,’ it is, in its entirety, an opinionated question. I honestly have no idea what my opinion is on the matter. I have gone over the question again and again in my mind, and I can’t help but feel that being effective really doesn’t have much to do with what my future plans are. I want nothing else than to make myself and others happy, and if that’s considered to be effective, then so be it. I don’t think I can write a thesis on how I’ve prepared myself to be an effective adult if I don’t even know how to define the term, so I’ll write a thesis on how Fairhaven has helped me grow musically, which is all that I find relevant.
I began playing guitar when I was 11 years old, long before I began attending Fairhaven. I never really considered it as a possible career path; it was just something to do. But as the years went by, it didn’t fizzle out like most things I took up when I was younger. My mom purchased me a very nice electric guitar, and I continued playing, but it wasn’t something I really took seriously. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I was introduced to the blues, particularly mister Stevie Ray Vaughan. It was something completely honest and instrumentally oriented; music with heart and soul, and years and years of preparation and practice (unlike the half baked pop stars I had previously listened to). I began listening to more and more ‘real’ music, knowing what real music was, I realized I would have nothing else than to be a musician. I have since branched into different genres as well, but I will always consider myself to be a blues guitarist.
I’ve known about Fairhaven since I was 5 years old, so I can’t say like most do that the system amazed me when I came here. It’s always been something I’ve known about and something that’s been an option to me. Now this may sound crazy, but up until 7th grade, I liked public school. I decided to give Fairhaven a try in 8th grade though, given I did not want to pass up on an opportunity to attend such a bizarre school. I loved it, obviously. However, I decided to go back to public school in 9th grade, just to give high school a try. Now, when I went back, I had just begun taking music very seriously. Having not taken it seriously in my previous years at public school, I had a very different experience upon my return. It was a never ending monotony of waking up, going to school, coming home, doing homework, and going to bed, leaving no time for music. Within 4 months, I was back at Fairhaven. Since I’ve come back, I’ve been able to grow as a musician, as opposed to public school where my muse was constantly being stifled by a lack of creativity and a ridiculous amount of homework.
Now money happened to get tight in my family around the time that I began taking music seriously. Being more of an acoustic oriented guitarist, and not having a good acoustic guitar, I began scrubbing toilets and taking out trash at Fairhaven. It was a painstaking couple of months, but I never missed a day, and in the end I purchased an absolutely beautiful electric-acoustic martin guitar. Having worked for it, I love it very, very much.
I will admit, I am kind of addicted to buying instruments. I think absolutely all instruments are gorgeous, and I wish I had the time and money to learn every one of them. Looking to make more money than I did at Fairhaven, I was granted an attendance exception and got a job at a music store. I have since learned a great deal about instruments, and have purchased a digital piano and clarinet.
Having a job has also allowed me to experience something absolutely incredible. I spent the first 300 dollars I made on tickets to see B.B. King at the Birchmere. I sat right up front, got his autograph, and shook his hand. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
As for the future, I am planning to attend University of the Arts in Philadelphia and earn a Bachelors in instrumental performance for guitar. I am applying this year, and if I get in I’ll go, if I don’t I’ll stay home and work for a year. I plan on being a studio musician, which most of the time requires proficiency in more than one instrument. I’ve of course been furthering my skills in guitar, and I’ve also been working on clarinet and drum set, as well as taking classical piano lessons from Kim and jazz piano lessons from Michelle.
I plan on someday owning a blues bar, possibly in Chicago. Though as of right now I can’t decide if after earning my degree I’ll come home and go to University of MD to earn a business degree, or if I’ll wait until later in my life to pursue this goal. It’s hard to tell where I’ll be and what I’ll want 4 years in the future, but I am a decisive person, and I know when the time comes to make decisions, I’ll know.
Now I must address one thing that I know must be explained; my age. I understand I am quite young to be graduating, but as I’ve clearly demonstrated I know exactly what I want to do and how I’m going to do it. One of the amazing things about Fairhaven is you can graduate when you’re ready, as opposed to when you’re told. If I felt I wasn’t ready to go out into the world, I absolutely would not be doing it.
I respect whatever decision you make on my behalf, and I thank you for your time.
‘‘What we think and what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do’’