Evals #1

At high schools across the country, seniors are settling into “Senioritis.”  They’ve got the credits necessary for graduation.  Maybe they’ve decided on a college for next year.  Time to chillax.

Not so at Hyde.  In fact, Hyde seniors are now engaged in the most intense period of their whole time at the school: Senior Evaluations, or as we call it, “Evals.”

For years, ah… make that decades… there has been a fair amount of mystery about Evals.  On the one hand, the premise is not that hard to explain or understand: Just as academics are only one consideration in deciding whether or not to admit a student to Hyde, they are only one consideration in determining that student’s graduation status.  A unique mission deserves unique graduation requirements.  Simple so far, right?

Similarly, the facts aren’t that hard to grasp either.  The time-honored Hyde Diploma standard symbolizes that “this individual is ready to conduct his or her life according to standards of personal excellence.”  During Evals (typically from Spring Family Weekend right up into the 59th minute of the 11th hour) the entire senior class and faculty will meet multiple times (My estimate: 40+- hours) to discuss each senior one-by-one. 

The result will be one of three designations:

–          Diploma: The individual reflects the above standard and will speak at graduation.

–          Certificate: The individual has had a year of positive year of personal growth but is not yet at the Diploma standard.  This individual speaks at Commencement and accepts a commitment to return for the diploma – alumni diploma speeches are a common occurrence during alumni reunion weekends – in the future.

–          Document: The individual has completed the academic requirements but has not had a year that warrants speaking at graduation.  The most common reasons for a Document are violations and dishonesty regarding school ethics and/or a refusal to participate in the Evals process.  While there are typically very few Documents each year, we probably spend more time deliberating over them than on any other designation.    

While this approach, though unique, seems easy to understand, the mystery lies in what goes on in the room.  Underclassmen and parents often ask, “What do you guys do in there, anyway?”  Given the confidential nature of the process, it’s hard to explain. 

This year at Bath, the process has begun with a written statement from each senior.  He or she has self-selected what they believe to be the appropriate designation, offered a reason why, and included a statement regarding their commitment and receptivity to the whole Evals process.  The Class of 2011 has granted me permission to share excerpts from these statements in my blog.  Hence, in future postings I will share some of these statements.  Hopefully, they will shed light on the kind of year they have had and will also help demystify the process itself.  Stay tuned.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld