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The End of the Beginning - THA's First Graduation

A celebration for the ages...

On June 24th, 2023 The Humanist Academy celebrated it's very first high school graduation in the school's seven year history, honoring the journey of our very first graduate and his launch into the real world.

It was a special moment on so many levels. Janak is not only our first graduate but he's been at the school since our doors first opened back in 2016. He's a part of the THA family and always will be. This day marked the end of his seven-year journey at The Humanist Academy and the beginning of his launch into the real world.

That's pretty special. To be a part of the first cohort of brave learners who joined this novel experiment, and for him to stick it through and cross the finish line... what an amazing moment! It is truly a story of resilience, grit, diligence, courage, sacrifice, and perseverance.

The celebration had little to do with attaining a diploma or completing high school requirements, and everything to do with the Hero's Journey, the backbone of Acton and THA's approach to education.

The graduation was special for him, his family, and for the entire THA community, our "village" as we crossed this important milestone together. Parents, grandparents, and Warriors, past and present, young and old, all came together on this day. Have you ever seen 300 people come together for one graduate before?

It takes a village to raise a child...

The commencement address was special, not only because we had a very inspiring guest speaker, President and Co-Founder of DHD Films, one of the most prominent companies in the DFW area, but also because Mr. Manjee actually served as one of Janak's mentors. Hussain, thank you for sharing your powerful words with us and making this moment so special.

It was not just a celebration, but an affirmation. Acton works. For those who truly trust their child, who believe in a learner-driven community, and have the foresight to play the long game... for those who have the courage to step back and the patience to endure when things get tough, Acton works.

While I get to see it working every day, graduation was a great reminder for us all. Acton works because, as Laura Sandefer once said, "Children are more powerful than we can ever imagine."

While I hesitate to share more specifics out of respect for our Launchpadders, who are not trophies to put on display, I am compelled to provide a little more context about the amazing Launchpad program and Janak's extraordinary journey so we can all just appreciate why this moment was special.

Graduating from THA is no joke. Apprenticeships, service hours, Next Great Adventure Badges, high school requirements, not to mention spending year after year in a self-paced, learner-driven environment where adults don't answer questions and you have to learn everything on your own, fight your own battles, manage one another, and accept struggle as a necessary part of the journey... it can all be quite daunting.

Yet no matter how tough the situation or how big the mistake, Janak never quit. He never gave up.

He accomplished quite a lot during his time at THA. Here are just a few glimpses of that:

  • Despite placing dead last in our Children's Business Fair a few years ago, the very next year he founded his own company at the age of 14, AlterOutlook, and won Entrepreneur of the Year at the very next fair.

  • Through the apprenticeship process, he was offered a $60,000 job at age 15 and a $78,000 job at age 16.

  • To graduate from THA, one must earn a series of Next Great Adventure Badges, including the NGA Deliberate Practice Badge. It requires at least 100 hours of work on a deliberate practice, honing a superpower to support life after LP.

  • Janak is also a certified Data Analyst, earning his NGA Credential Badge in the process.

  • As part of their Servant Leadership Badges, Launchpadders engage in hundreds of hours of community service. Janak even spent two weeks in Costa Rica building homes for those in need, and hundreds of hours in younger studios leading discussions, planning projects, asking questions and guiding younger learners.

  • We try our best to fill every minute of the day at THA with rigorous, life-oriented, holistic, and experiential learning experiences, that demand a lot from our LP Warriors. In that environment, Janak was able to complete an estimated four years of work in three years, and graduate early.

"We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet.” - Swami Vivekananda

I wanted to thank everyone who came and shared in this special moment with us. Here's a fun, five-minute highlight video to relive the magical moments!

There's nothing quite like being a part of a learner's journey for several years and seeing them reach that final threshold... grateful to be a part of it all and excited for what lies ahead.

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