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Mountain View School 6th-Graders Ace Exit Interviews as They Look Backward and Forward

58 students get a chance to reflect on their achievements in and out of the classroom while beginning to focus on junior high school

Former Mountain View School principal and Goleta Union School District assistant superintendent Albert Zonana interviews two sixth-graders about their time at the school. Click to view larger
Former Mountain View School principal and Goleta Union School District assistant superintendent Albert Zonana interviews two sixth-graders about their time at the school. (Dani DeVries / Noozhawk photo)

Most colleges don’t require a dreaded interview as part of the admissions process, but this year’s batch of sixth-graders at Mountain View School got a head start on the exercise anyway, participating in the school’s annual exit interviews.

Each year, Mountain View sixth-graders put together a portfolio project that encompasses their work throughout the school year. The project culminates in the exit interviews, conducted by community members, including educators, civic leaders, parents and even former students.

The hour-long exchanges aim to give the students the experience of being interviewed while in a safe and friendly environment. The opportunity also allows them to reflect on their time spent at the school and their growth throughout their last year.

On Friday morning, 58 students sat down for the interviews in the multipurpose room at the Goleta Union School District campus at 5465 Queen Ann Lane.

Students were interviewed in groups of two or three, and were asked a variety of questions ranging from their curriculum to favorite teachers to future plans.

The questions focused on how the students have grown this year, and allowed them to identify their strengths and challenges in both the classroom and with outside activities. While questions were provided, interviewers also were encouraged to go “off-script” as they saw fit.

Students were overheard discussing short stories they had written, science projects they worked on, and their favorite author or genre of books.

Several remarked that they feel confident going into junior high school in the fall, as they believe the projects they’ve worked on have prepared them well for the transition.

Veronica Rogers, principal at Goleta Valley Junior High School, was one of the interviewers and has participated in the event for the last decade. She discussed how much confidence the interviewing process gives the students, many of whom will be attending Goleta Valley Junior High in the fall.

“I wish every school did it,” said Rogers, who is retiring as principal this summer after 13 years in the job.

As part of the process, the Mountain View students wrote formal letters to their interviewers, introducing themselves and the subjects they were to discuss in the interviews. They also presented their portfolios to their interviewers and showed them projects they had done on their Google Chromebooks.

Mountain View Principal Ned Schoenwetter said the process is special for both the students and the teachers.

Sixth-graders shared their favorite memories from their time at Mountain View School. Click to view larger
Sixth-graders shared their favorite memories from their time at Mountain View School. (Dani DeVries / Noozhawk photo)

“The fun part for us is being able to see the sixth-graders talk about themselves as learners,” he said. “(And the) interviewers from the community make them feel very special.”

Schoenwetter also noted that this sixth grade class was in kindergarten his first year at the school, so it’s the first class he has seen from start to finish.

Sixth-grade teachers Lisa Embury and Kelly Hammond discussed how nervous the students were for the interviews. Most dread the experience, they said, but end up really enjoying it.

They say the unique process cements the knowledge the students have gained in the past year and their love for Mountain View.

The students, who all dressed up for the event, were nervous at first but quickly got comfortable. By the end of the hour, the room was filled with smiles and noise as students animatedly explained their accomplishments.

As they were leaving the multipurpose room, two girls were overheard whispering to one another, “That was fun,” “that was awesome.”

As the interviews wrapped up it was clear just how impressive each child was.

David Ortiz, principal at La Colina Junior High School, remarked that he was so impressed he felt like offering the students a job.

Other community interviewers included retired Goleta Union School District Superintendent Kathy Boomer; GUSD trustees Yvonne DeGraw, Susan Epstein, Carin Ezal and Luz Reyes-Martin; Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen; KEYT News chief meteorologist Alan Rose; and two retired Mountain View principals, Bob Wood and Albert Zonana. 

The exit interviews mark the end of the academic school year for Mountain View’s Class of 2016. The students will officially graduate June 7. 

Noozhawk intern Dani DeVries can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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