HG Sixth Grade Rite of Passage Experiences
Rite of Passage Experiences (ROPES) is a required opportunity for HG students to use the skills, knowledge and Habits of Mind acquired during their time in the HG program. The focus of ROPES is on independent learning and connecting academics to real life experiences. The program goal is for students to demonstrate they can apply Growth Mindset thinking and the Habits of Mind independently as self-directed learners ready for their middle school years.
ROPES requires students to individually design and complete an in-depth project that involves a responsible risk and a personal challenge. This might be an investigation into an academic area, a potential career path, a form of art or craft, or a skill to be developed. The project is then narrowed to a specific topic that can be completed in one school year. After it has been discussed and approved by sixth grade teachers and parents, a display of posters gives the students opportunity to celebrate and publicly announce their commitment to each project. Students receive assistance in the selection of their coach or guide with whom they meet throughout the year, generally outside the school day.
In the spring, upon completion of their ROPES, students write reflective essays about themselves. In addition, they design a presentation of their learning that shares the journey of their project including successes, difficulties and problem solving strategies. Sixth graders then practice their presentation with a fifth grade audience who will provide feedback about each presentation. Additionally, ROPEs coaches provide written evaluation of students.
During an individual appointment in May, each ROPES candidate presents the results of his/her project to a panel of three trained community members. Panelists first read a studentʼs essay and coach evaluation and then listen to the studentʼs presentation. The panelists work to foster a “grand conversation” with the student and provide them with detailed feedback.
Essential elements for success of ROPES include:
- The school staff, parents and community members serve as coaches for the students as they develop and complete projects.
- ROPES, Growth Mindset, and Habits of Mind are an integral part of the HG instructional program.
- There is a high degree of parent, community, and business support.
- Scaffolding and safety nets assure student success.
“The journey of the hero is about the courage to seek the depths; the image of creative rebirth; the eternal cycle of change within us;
the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know.
The hero journey is a symbol that binds, in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas, the spiritual quest of the ancients with the modern search for identity, always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find.”
― Phil Cousineau