Written By: Caite Doyle, Arjavi Thakkar, & Paavan Purani
Interviews by: Paavan Purani & Arjavi Thakkar
Photographs by: Atharva Sheth
At our school, we don’t have a high school, we have a Launchpad. You may wonder, “What does that mean?” In this post, we will be explaining what a Launchpadder is and what their academic life looks like.
What does it mean to be a Launchpadder?
Here is what Nirmal Shah, a Launchpadder at The Humanist Academy, said when asked this question: “Being a launchpadder comes with a lot more responsibility. We govern our education by creating our own badge plans and doing a lot of more badges that require deliberate practices.”
Another Launchpadder, Janak Panchal, responded to this question saying, “Being a launchpadder means to take on more responsibility. To be a leader of the studio for all ages. To be a model of excellence, honesty, and hard work. A launchpadder is someone who uplifts the culture of the studio. Someone who enjoys the challenge of connecting the tribe, instead of making divides. Someone who is willing to lead others through tough times, but also have the ability to admit their own mistakes and rectify them.”
From these answers, we have concluded that a launchpadder is more than just a teenager in search of education. Launchpadders are individuals who have dedicated themselves to changing the world. They have decided what type of culture they want to have and what kind of people they want to be. Launchpadders know themselves and cultivate their interests into passions. Most importantly, Launchpadders look adversity in the eye and decide to pick themselves up.
What kind of work do you have to do?
Janak Panchal says, “In LP, we have many badges covering all sorts of different sectors. We have academic badges, including math badges, reading badges, and writing badges. I feel that our math badges are the most difficult because they include six different Khan Academy courses which we have to complete in 4 years. That is a very high order and I don't know how I'm going to be able to do it, but I know I have the enthusiasm to work, and the drive to get there.”
Launchpadders have 76 badges to complete in the designated 4 years, but like any other studio, they can take their time and pace themselves. They have a lot of the same badges as the MS studio, but some are very different. For example, NGA (Next Great Adventure) badges: This badge is pretty similar to the apprenticeship process, but it is a lot more rigorous. Janak submitted a challenge saying, “NGA badges are distinctly different from college. They allow you to make contact with the people you want to work for. The badge basically wipes out the need for college to enable you to get a job. The NGA badge allows you to work in a field of your passion without going to college.”
How are Middle School and Launchpad different?
Middle school prepares you for a heavy workload and more rigor, whereas Launchpad prepares you for the real world. Launchpad does this by having more service hours, more apprenticeships, NGA badges, and more. Another launchpadder, Pruthviraj Chavda, says, “I think that a lot of the material that you learn in middle school is very applicable to high school, but I feel that we should have a higher level of rigor, since we are in high school, and we should understand and comprehend more than middle schoolers might be able to.”
Nirmal Shah talked about another reason why middle school is different from Launchpad. He said, “The best part about Launchpad is that we are able to independently do our work and there is less guide intervention than the MS studio.”
What is the culture like?
Culture is a big part of the Launchpad studio. Following the sacred covenants and ROEs is the way that they uphold their culture. Pruthviraj Chavda says, “I think that the contract is applicable to any age, not just to middle school or high school. I think that it can be useful to even adults in real life. I think that we should follow the contract no matter what age we are. I feel that a lot of times, great freedom comes with great responsibility. Even though the Launchpad may be older and more experienced, I feel that we should still follow the contract. A lot of times we may not, because we feel that we are above such petty things, but in the end we know to come back to our roots and to follow the contract, as it is the grounding covenant of our school.”
What is the relationship like between Launchpad and other studios?
As you get older, it becomes more common for you to want to only interact with individuals your age. However, our Launchpadders are extremely inclusive. They treat younger warriors exactly the same as anyone else. Instead of drawing a hard line between the studios, they have brought them together. You can almost always find one hanging out in the Middle School Studio. Our Launchpadders stay in their respective studio for most of Silent Core Skills. As soon as it is time for Civilization, Collaborative Core Skills, or any other group-based time, they migrate into the Middle School Studio. They joke around and have fun while still managing to get their work done on time.
Overall, Launchpad involves working hard to keep up a strong culture, building relationships, finding your passion, and discovering yourself. It’s all about having a growth mindset, working hard, and giving your best.