Congratulations Grade 8

We are so proud of the Grade 8 students who will be moving up to high school in the fall.

This fall, CLCS students will be matriculating to schools across the city including Boston Arts Academy, TechBoston Academy, Boston Community Leadership Academy, the Lincoln-Sudbury Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) Program, and Codman Academy Charter Public School, where we know they will continue to grow as scholars, artists, and leaders. To celebrate moving up this year, students delivered their final presentations via Zoom and enjoyed a socially-distanced photo opportunity with an Oscar-style backdrop and a live stream presentation of awards and certificates. Check out the full album of photos here.

At Conservatory Lab, we encourage students to take ownership of their learning, by offering opportunities twice a year for students to analyze and present their work in student-led conferences. This practice culminates in the Eighth Grade Capstone Project, which consists of an interdisciplinary research project and portfolio presentation during the second semester to members of our extended learning community—including a panel of their peers, teachers, and loved ones. Students share their final reflection on what they learned and how they plan to grow as they move on to high school.

Our students are already agents of change who, through their lived experiences and academic learning, understand the realities of systemic racism and other inequities in our society. Students in Grade 8 often choose to focus their capstone community projects on social justice issues that relate to their identities. Projects included songs about gender-based discrimination, visual collages about equity in education, and a composition for trumpet by a multi-instrumentalist who focused on mourning incidents of community violence.

One student, prescient about the events set to follow this spring, delivered a moving spoken word performance about criminal justice reform that viscerally evoked the experience of being arrested, falsely accused, and suffering the consequences. As she closed out the poem, this student chose to take power back from systemic oppression by flipping the script to imagine pushing through adversity to a successful life,

“Now, I’m 33…working for a criminal justice firm, but I’m also living my life. I got a baby on my hip, and I’m still doin’ it all, but most importantly, I’m teaching my kid that Black is beautiful. It’s ok to be a little brown thing. You just gotta know what you’re doing in order to be what you want to be.”   

As proud as the Conservatory Lab Charter School learning community is of the level of civic and social awareness our students display, it is incumbent upon us who serve them to remember that students’ joy, talent, and inventiveness is just as important. Developing a joy for learning will serve our students for decades to come. During our moving up festivities this week, we are celebrating our students not just for their activism and leadership, but because of the beauty and joy they build in our community. 

Students in grade 8 have produced amazing work in their time at Conservatory Lab. They have played music from all over the world which they performed in classrooms and theaters for their peers, families, and for wider audiences at famous venues like the Hatch Shell and the Massachusetts State House. They have explored ecology, geography, math, history, and the present. Most importantly, they have developed skills that will last a lifetime, motivating them to visualize who they want to be and make a plan for how to get there.  


Students conduct fieldwork in Savin Hill Cove to understand how humans impact ecology

To make that future possible, the board, teachers, and staff are reaffirming our daily commitment to anti-racist practices. We are visualizing goals and making a plan for what we need to do to get there, just like our students. School leaders created a schedule for professional development on equity and anti-racist practices through the summer and into next year; they are actively recruiting leaders of color, and the entire staff has worked together to compile resources for students and families that they can use right now as they face difficult conversations about racial justice.

In this moment, as a movement for racial justice grows in response to the recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, Conservatory Lab’s leadership team is taking our students’ words to heart, by working to make it possible for our beautiful students be able to choose “what [they’re] doing in order to be what [they] want to be.”   

Congratulations Grade 8! We believe in you!