The Profile of a High school Graduate In The 21st Century

by: Stefanos Gialamas, Ph.D., President, ACS Athens
John Papadakis, Director of Community Affairs & Enrollment Management, ACS Athens

Kathimerini English Edition, April 1, 2007

The most memorable moment of every student’s academic career is the time of graduation, the milestone that will follow the student until the end of his or her life as a moment of accomplishment, and sense of purpose. High school graduation is the first and most powerful such moment, both for the family and the student.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” Just as Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) instructed, thousands of graduates around the world every year leave their high school sanctuary to experience the world in its fullest, try to make sense of it and embark on an ambitious quest to change it for the better. Every school must be guided by a vision as to what is its graduates’ portrait, relating to their impact on the world.

The American educational philosophy establishes quality standards, and takes into consideration a variety of characteristics of all cultures, which are shaped by certain political, demographic and technological realities.

Our view at the American Community Schools of Athens is solidly established after years of study and active research with in-depth analysis of the foundation of international education, together with the collective effort of our faculty, parents, students and administration.

At ACS Athens, we have been providing a K-12 high-quality education in Greece since 1945, and we regard our students as natives in a digital world where most adults, including their parents, even some teachers and administrators, are just immigrants. This acknowledgement guides us as to what type of education we deliver to them and by which means.

Every academic institution with high standards and expectations is clearly obliged to have great aspirations for its students. They must be inquirers, who use their school to acquire the necessary skills to conduct inquiry and research while showing independence in learning .They are driven towards knowledge, exploring concepts, ideas and issues of local and global significance. They are expected to be critical and creative thinkers. Being communicators enables them to listen and receive ideas, within and beyond their own culture. Principles like integrity, honesty, humility, fairness and responsibility are the cornerstones of their character. Keeping an open mind toward different perspectives equips them with understanding and personal awareness. They show empathy, compassion and respect toward the needs and feelings of others, protecting their immediate and wider environment. They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance for personal and community well-being. Personal reflect ion is a prized trait that enables them to assess and understand their own strengths and limitations. Finally, having attained and mastered all the previous qualities, we are sure that these students may become the ultimate leaders that approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainties with courage and articulate thought, making informed, ethical, moral and aesthetic choices with civic responsibility.

The new social realities are rapidly changing the face of high school and college teaching and learning, as are expectations from our graduates. It is clear to us that students with the previously presented characteristics can make the world a better place to live. Because, as Aristotle so poignantly articulated in his “Nicomache an Ethics,” “it is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.”