Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa’s Commencement & Community

Graduating from high school is a remarkable achievement in the best of times. It is all the more remarkable in the time in which we currently live. 

The Quest Forward Academy graduating class of 2020 — Alex, Caillen, Cole, Kasey, and Max — experienced their share of challenges: most recently the COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest attendant to persistent inequality in our country, but also the Tubbs and Kincaid fires and evacuations, the recurring power outages and bad air days, the flooding. Some of our students lost homes, some had to evacuate for days or weeks, all have felt the isolation of learning in the social-distancing way. 

Our graduates said good-bye to high school without the reassuring and joyful proximity of physical community, without the hugs and high fives. Their courage and resilience stands out all the more strikingly against this backdrop of hardship. We couldn’t be prouder of these graduates, as we are of all of our students. 

It is an irony of human existence that it often takes the unexpected loss of something to make us truly and deeply appreciate it. COVID-19 has provided us the opportunity to become more deeply aware of — and grateful for — the things we may have taken for granted: from the relatively trivial — getting a haircut or eating out — to the profound: social connection and community. 

The virtual nature of this year’s event allowed people from around the country to come together to celebrate the Class of 2020.

With each added day of social distancing I become more aware of how much energy and joy I derive from seeing the faces of our young people at school and experiencing the small, seemingly unimportant interactions during the day that buoy my spirit — the high fives, the smiles, the dips into the candy jar, the dropping off of phones — and weave together the rich tapestry of Quest Forward Academy community life. 

And yet, at every Zoom assembly, and especially at our Zoom graduation, we acknowledged and celebrated that which we have been missing: us! Because we are still here supporting each other in our exceptional learning community. 

Our graduates joined Quest Forward Academy when we were in our infancy. We went on a journey together, and they taught us as much as we taught them; we forged this community together.

We hope that these young men start their adult journeys with an appreciation of the power of community, and that they all will feel the wind of the Quest Forward Academy community at their backs as they venture forth. They move into this uncertain world with the gift of an excellent and loving education that has prepared them as best it could for whatever may come. 

And we call upon them, as we do all of our students, to become strong centers of their own communities and develop into the confident leaders our world so urgently needs. 

Browse our photo gallery below to see more from this great event.

Director Karen Kenkel speaking during the Class of 2020’s graduation.
The graduates prerecorded some of the most notable parts of graduation such as walking the stage. Here graduate Cole walks across the stage with his diploma.
All five graduates recorded themselves walking across stage, or in graduate Caillen’s case skating across stage.
Graduate Max leaps for joy as he crosses the stage.
Graduate Max leaps for joy as he crosses the stage.
Graduate Kasey smiles for the camera while walking across the stage.
Graduate Alex points to all the virtual attendants as he walks across stage.
Although everyone would have preferred to hold the celebration in person, the virtual nature of the event allowed for the Academy’s students and staff to showcase their creative side and have some fun.