The high school has just completed a week-long documentary project. The student films were shown, as well as an informal “documenting the documentary-making” film pulled together by Mo, one of the professional film-maker facilitators. In this last film, there was a clip of Noah sitting in front of computer with a group of other students explaining the finer points of balancing audience attention between the video and audio streams.

I was emailing one of the teachers of this project about an unrelated matter. She had thought she’d got to know Noah a bit through the DL program last year, but her initial perceptions of a shy, somewhat under-confident young man have been blown away this fall since he’s been attending school. Included at the end of her email back to me was this comment about the shot of Noah at work:

Did you catch that Noah rock star clip in the film Mo made? He literally “held court” most of the week with his group and a growing number of other students. I can’t believe his zeal for social connection and his artfulness in being so kind and supportive of others while also leading. Very exciting to see him in action. 

Noah has found his place at the school. The intensity of three school trips (two of them multiple overnighters) and two extended school-wide projects has warmed the crucible of social connections and belongingness for him. He’s discovered a lot about himself: a lot of really good stuff. He’s hearing the good stuff from others and has experienced how he can contribute and achieve handily in the pseudo-real-world of a school environment. He is valued at school by students and teachers alike, and quite understandably enjoys the feeling of being valued. It’s one thing to be valued by your family, and quite another to be valued by those who have no particular vested interest in your well-being and achievements.

Finding his place