Dressed up for one of their final days in elementary school, and toting thick binders containing proof of much of what they’ve learned the past year, Mountain View School sixth-graders got to share their strengths and stretches with community members during one-hour “exit” interviews last week.
“It was really good to kind of tell somebody about what we did this year cause I think we’re all pretty proud of our work,” Rachel Bailey said.
It has become a tradition for the Goleta Union School District campus at 5465 Queen Ann Lane to organize this one-of-a-kind graduation ritual for its sixth-graders, whose last day is Tuesday.
Through discussing and evaluating different written, visual and audiovisual assignments, the students find their preferred way of learning, Schoenwetter explained.
“It prepares them well for junior high, because they go into junior high knowing how they best learn,” he added.
Schoenwetter, who’s been participating in the exit interviews even prior to becoming the principal four years ago, said he has noticed a shift in the students’ learning methods and communication preferences.
“As technology becomes more and more of their life, you’ll see that they are always on the cutting edge,” he said.
“A few years ago there was probably more PowerPoint. Now, the students are creating digital files. They are using Google Docs to share documents and work collaboratively with the other students in class.”
The community members invited to interview the students this year were Pat Adams; Ellen Barger and Jan Clevenger of the Santa Barbara County Education Office; Mountain View PTA co-presidents Lori Baur and Alexa Avila; Dos Pueblos High School Principal Shawn Carey; Goleta Union School District trustees Yvonne DeGraw, Pam Kinsley and Richard Mayer; Darcel Elliott; GUSD Assistant Superintendent Elizabeth DeVita; Santa Barbara City College President Lori Gaskin; Mountain View school psychologist Peggy Grossman; Mountain View third-grade teacher Katherine James; Marjorie Large of Deco Marketing Group; Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen; La Colina Junior High Principal David Ortiz; Goleta Valley Junior High Principal Veronica Rogers; Al Zonana; and retired Mountain View Principal Bob Wood, who started the sixth-grade interviews during his tenure at the campus.
“I’ve always gotten a big kick out of these exit interviews because you not only gain understanding of what the students have learned and what they’ve achieved but you get to develop a relationship,” said Ortiz, who will welcome a number of the students to his campus in the fall.
“I’ve always said I get more out of this than I’m pretty sure they get out of it.”
Each interviewer was assigned two or three students, and each of the youngsters wrote the interviewer a personal letter prior to Wednesday’s big day.
The students agreed that they had not realized how much they had learned until they were showing off their work during their interviews.
“I think it taught us all that we’re very fortunate to do so many fun things, and I feel that (the interviews) really opened up our eyes to how much we’ve learned,” said sixth-grader Tori Cox.
”I’ve learned a lot,” classmate Kate Benzian added.
After the students had said goodbye to their interviewers and marched off to recess, the community guests gathered for a last word.
“Kudos to you,” Gaskin told Schoenwetter. “As I shared with you, I’m taking those kids with me (to SBCC)” she added as the circle of her fellow interviewers erupted in laughter.