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Portrait of a Graduate and the Promise Behind a Diploma

May 28, 2020

By: Kate Westrich

When a student receives their diploma, it signals both an accomplishment and a promise. The student has achieved an educational milestone and the school district is promising to have prepared the student for what’s next. That’s a lot of meaning for one piece of paper and at Orchard View Schools in Muskegon, Michigan, they’re taking it very seriously.

When school, business and community leaders develop their Portrait of a Graduate for Orchard View Schools, they used the promise a diploma symbolizes as a guiding element. When a student graduates from the district, each student is ready for whatever is going to come their way in the world of work or life after K-12.

“It’s not just knowledge that matters,” said Simeon Frang, curriculum director at Orchard View Schools. “What are those skills, besides academics, that will make us successful in life?”

The district developed a Portrait of a Graduate that featured five attributes that would ensure their student did well academically in life:

  • Resilient citizens
  • Creative critical thinkers
  • Curious collaborators
  • Adaptable communicators
  • Determined individuals

From there, the district developed grade-band competencies for those attributes.

“We’ve asked ourselves, if this is the goal for our graduates, what does that look like for a kindergartner? What does that look like for a second or a third grader?” said Frang. “We’re really used our Portrait of a Graduate as our north star to guide us.”

Creating a profile of a graduate that is aligned to a district’s vision allows that vision to come alive for district stakeholders.


Kate Westrich
Vice President of Marketing and Communications

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