Wellspring and the Arch Bridge School Celebrates Ten Graduates in 2016
Students Thankful to Discover True Selves & Bright Futures
This year the Arch Bridge School, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), awarded diplomas to ten students of the graduating class of 2016. Themes of the graduation ceremony on our main campus in Bethlehem were: finding our way, learning who we really are, and looking forward to a bright and healthy future. This was the first graduation to take place at Wellspring’s new Dodds Family Center for Arts and Athletics.
Reflecting the relational quality of our program, several aspects of the ceremony make Arch Bridge School graduations special. As they receive their diplomas, students are not simply given a handshake and sent back to their seats. Rather as each diploma is handed out, a member of the faculty delivers a thoughtful and personalized speech honoring the graduate’s accomplishments and progress. These personal presentations are filled with stories of transformation, tears and laughter. This year, the staff speeches included a few props such as a coveted Student of the Month tee-shirt and a tiara with scepter set. Graduates are also invited to speak at the ceremony if they wish.
“It was really difficult for me to write this speech because every time I tried to describe Wellspring, it sounded like they paid me,” one graduate said in her address. “Like when you see the Girl Scout cookie boxes where the girls are really happy – that’s me at Wellspring. Arch Bridge is by far my favorite high school experience. The staff and students were always kind and funny. Eventually I was oddly happy to wake up and go to school in the mornings. I have never been more thankful for a school.”
Another student said, “Wellspring is truly a magical place…if you take advantage of what it offers, you will transform into your true self. One of the most important things I learned here is that Wellspring will always stay with you, even after you leave.”
Keynote speaker at the ceremony, Liza Amir, a former resident of Wellspring, inspired students by sharing her experience from the heart and speaking about her success and happiness since her time on campus.
“Change might be scary and intimidating, but it is also very exciting,” Liza imparted. “Have the confidence to work towards your goals, and the self-worth to know that you deserve them.”
“Who will you be?” Liza asked. “Where will you be in a year? Ten years? I am talking to you as proof of what is possible…Wellspring saved my life. It has been 18 years since I was a resident at Wellspring. If you had told my 16-year-old self when I was a resident here that I’d be where I am today, I probably would have laughed at you. Today I am an artist, wife, mother, friend, sister and daughter. I have a fulfilling career that I love, a husband who is truly my partner and soul mate, an amazing son, meaningful friendships and a deep authentic relationship with my family. It took a lot of work. It all takes work.”
Liza’s advice for the graduates, and that could apply to everyone: Trust yourself and have faith in yourself. You don’t have to be perfect but be sure to learn from your mistakes. Remain humble and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Several students also shared their talents and sang with emotion in duos and groups – including a beautiful a capella rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
The members of the graduating class of 2016 will be moving on to college, jobs or travelling abroad. Five eighth grade students were also recognized for moving up to high school and many other students were acknowledged for their hard work and progress as they head back to their public schools, prep schools or step-down programs.