Personalized Learning Narrative and Graphic

Aquila volat.

(Aquila=eagle; volare=to fly)

The eagle soars, because that’s how eagles are made.

Does that mean the rest of us can never get up to the top of the mountain?  Is there no other way to soar?

We believe there are lots of other ways. (We also believe that for some people, the mountain isn’t even a good symbol of your final goal, but we’re going with mountain.  Feel free to substitute your own metaphor for ultimate success, and to substitute as needed.)

We also believe that no one makes it to the top of the mountain alone, or without developing and utilizing stamina, skills, strategies, and supports that allow you to succeed, whether you are traveling a well-trodden path followed by many people before you or forging a route that is all your own.  The ultimate goal of our program is to fill your backpack with the tools appropriate for any path you choose, and to ensure that you know how to use those tools effectively.  At HSC, we believe these tools come from four main elements of our program: The three Essential Questions of Law and Social Justice; Mastery Based systems and practices; integration of Higher Order Thinking Schools principles in curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and Community Learning Experiences.  The combination of these elements, and the opportunities they present in the courses and learning opportunities we offer, contribute to the creation of a Personalized Learning experience for every HSC student.




I am on an expedition that so many others are on, too. As I make my way, I am continually asked to consider three Essential Questions:  What is justice?  What are our responsibilities to our community?  What can I do today to create positive change?  My answers grow and change as I travel, and learning experiences and performance tasks provide new information and new challenges to what I thought was true, and as I reflect each year, in the defense of my portfolio, on what I have learned about possible answers to each of these questions.   Ultimately, I am asked to design and pursue my own learning experience, and to share my final (for now), personal answers to these essential questions in the presentation of my Capstone Project.  This exhibition is my final step as I reach the top and prepare to take off, in pursuit of the next mountain I choose to climb.  


I am on an expedition that so many others are on, too.  It is a Mastery Based expedition, and so I can see clear endpoints ahead, and obstacles and hurdles I must master to pick up the skills and knowledge that will allow me to reach and move past them.  There are options available for building my mastery, including different paths I can take and different required demonstrations of my abilities.  I can see others I know, both ahead of me and behind me, making choices along the way, but all moving towards their own versions of the common goal that has been clearly set before us.  Some of us have to try more than once, or choose another path, or receive support or help from fellow students, teachers, or even from the community, when the paths we are on prove too steep for us to climb alone, but we know we must eventually master it in order to move forward. We laugh at our successes and agonize over our failures, and we reflect regularly on where the path ends and what benchmarks will show that we are making good progress, from Foundation, to Core, to Focus, to Bridge, and beyond.  As long and challenging as it sometimes seems, I know that my personalized planning has helped to form the path of this expedition, and that mastering this will prepare me for the next mountain I choose to climb. 


I am on an expedition that so many others are on, too, and this expedition demands Higher Order Thinking.  As I go, I am asked not only to engage my voice and choice through democratic practice that influences the characteristics of my path, my courses, and my school; I must also regularly apply what I know, and evaluate what I encounter, and create new forms for communicating knowledge and understanding.  I must integrate artistry, in all kinds of forms—traditional, as in strong music and visual arts courses, and unusual, formulating my own personalized expressions of what I know and can do.  I am not merely collecting a stone here or a branch there, for the purpose of having stones and branches.  I am collecting tools and materials for projects and performances that encourage me to engage deeply with this expedition.  I work alone, sometimes, and sometimes with others, and I realize how much faster, and how much more meaningful and enjoyable the whole expedition is when I am required to act, to build, to create.  Developing the ability to perform at the highest levels of thinking and understanding has built my confidence in my skills and in the value of my voice; that will serve me well when I embark on a future expedition on the next mountain I choose to climb.  


I am on an expedition that so many others are on, too, for it is clear to me that this expedition involves Community Learning Experiences.  There are others here, too, on these paths and off, and these others have both wisdom to share and needs that I can help to fill.  The paths travel through places where I must interact meaningfully with the larger community: sometimes, I pursue college classes or career internships or focused learning opportunities and programs outside the school building and the regular school day; sometimes, others will join me on the path, bringing in community expertise that relates to a specific course or experience and provides a bigger and more powerful perspective on our destination and purpose.  At some points, I might have to engage a community issue with the skills and knowledge I am accruing, or prepare a community exhibition that demonstrates the progress I am making.  I see that my interactions with the community are not a departure from the way, as I thought they might be, but actually tools for forging a new path that I may be the first to travel, which will be important for me to practice as I go out on my own to tackle the next mountain I choose to climb.   


If you look closely at the image we have chosen to represent the challenge you will undertake in your career at HSC, you will see that our program will load your backpack with useful tools—skills, knowledge, and experiences.  These tools are highly personal, and focused on preparing you for the next mountain you will choose to climb.  The Essential Questions have no easy answers, and you must therefore determine your own personal answers, as well as a process for changing them later; the Mastery Based system allows you to choose learning options and demonstrations that speak to your personal strengths and interests as a way of showing what you know and are able to do; the performances of Higher Order Thinking will repeatedly demand that you employ your personal creativity; Community Learning Experiences demand both collective, class based interactions and completely personal engagement with the world around you.

Every one of you is at a different place on the mountain, and will create a unique and personal path to climb it, supported by a backpack filled with the tools our program will provide.  Perhaps you are already partway up, and perfectly clear about where you are and where you want to go.  Maybe you will find that you need more practice before you can even begin, and have no idea yet where you want to end up.  HSC is committed to all students, and rest assured—we will help you to determine where you are, and we will support you on the way up and as you decide on the next mountain you choose to climb.

None of us were born with actual wings to carry us to the top, and yet, aquila volat—the eagle soars.

You are an eagle now.

How will you soar?


Next Gen 4 Graphic