Reflections from the XQ Class of ‘19

Seniors across the country are reflecting on their high school experience as the class of 2019 is graduating. We asked some of our XQ students to share their reflections.

By Team XQ

Students speak out!

It’s spring, and “Pomp and Circumstance” is in the air. Students across the XQ family are donning their mortarboards and heading into the future equipped with the academic knowledge, real-world skills, and enthusiasm to conquer whatever life brings.

Several XQ Schools (Da Vinci RISEIowa BIGFurrVistaElizabethtonCirculos, and Summit Shasta) will be hosting graduations this spring, bidding farewell to students who’ve experienced at least a year or two of the XQ learning model. They’ve engaged in creative and interdisciplinary coursework, forged deep connections in the community, and attained an understanding of subject matter that goes beyond textbooks and standardized tests.

More than a Celebration of Accomplishments

But as all families and teachers know, high school graduations are more than a celebration of accomplishments. Leaving high school can be bittersweet, too. This is how Circulos graduate Josue Alcaide described it:

“In all reality, I never thought this day would come to be. Maybe a part of me never wanted this moment to come to life. However, I am here now and it’s just a part of my journey.”

“When I realized I no longer would attend my classes with all my friends, I felt like I lost a part of myself because my friends and my classroom were keeping me grounded and sane and content with my emotions. I felt my mentality shift. I don’t think things will ever be the same.”

“Even though I’m currently overwhelmed by emotions, I cannot thank Arlyn Shelton enough for every single thing she has done for me and everyone in Circulos@Chavez. She has truly been a role model to me, a mom figure, someone I look up to. She helped me get through the hardest points in my life and in school.”

“I am going to miss the community and friendships that were cultivated at Circulos@Chavez. My goals for the next five to 10 years? It seems too far away to even consider, but I do have a few options in mind. I’m currently taking online classes on social media marketing with one of my friends. We are hoping to help businesses grow by allowing them to get the exposure they need to be successful. I also plan on getting involved in real estate and starting an Airbnb home-sharing management company. During this time I will be studying and trading in the stock market and cryptocurrency.”

“My most valuable lesson learned at school is that no matter how hard things might be, or how irrational life may get, trust in the process and keep your head held high. You have to persevere to thrive.”

Writing the Next Chapter

Meanwhile, at Summit Shasta, seniors said a class called “Life After Shasta” helped them think through their options and clarify their goals for the next chapter of their lives. In the class, students draw up several “life plans,” meet with mentors in the community and perform an oral defense of their chosen life plan. The class has been so successful that Summit Public Schools is expanding it to other schools in its network.

This year, senior Ivan Rivas visited City Hall, where his father works, and learned about the various careers there. His classmate Ehab Almaznai, who wants to be a mechanical engineer, visited an engineering office to learn about the daily life of an engineer.

Senior Jacob Pubill visited a college campus and then reported to his advisors about his plans.

“It was an opportunity to present several life plans to my personal advisory board, which includes financial, academic, and personal advisors,” he said. “At the defense, you explain all of the life plans you made and they can ask you questions. Then you’re asked to leave the room while the board talks about you and your options. Afterward, you are invited back to hear their feedback.”

Their classmate Keilani Rose Villanueva was not sure if she wanted to go to college when she started the “Life After Shasta” course. Her parents hadn’t attended college and her family didn’t have the resources to pay her tuition. But after going through the class, she learned about financial aid and costs of various colleges and decided to apply to four schools.

The experience perfectly fit her “personal purpose statement,” which is: to educate and expand the knowledge of others.

A New Adventure

And across the country in Iowa, seniors at Iowa BIG created a video reflecting on their high school experiences. Here’s a sampling of how they described the program:

Iowa BIG is …

“A new adventure for students.”

“The best thing that ever happened to me.”

“One big family.”

“Pure opportunity.”

“Means standing for something in my community.”



“Community and love and family.”

No matter what school students are graduating from or where they’re headed, we wish them the best of luck in the future endeavors. And please keep in touch! Let us know how your XQ experiences shape the next phase in your life.

XQ recently launched “Give Me Five,” a conversational newsletter for educators and ed leaders ready to rethink high school. We find, summarize, and curate five stories every two weeks that educators can put into action. Sign up now