SMWHS Student Future Search | by Michael Shaun Conaway, Board of Trustees Member


MSConawayOn Thursday February 4th, 32 middle school and high school students came together to participate in a High School Student Future Search. The Future Search was facilitated by myself, Board Member Andy Horning and Adjunct Faculty Member Nita Davanzo. The Future Search process is designed to give participants the chance to express their vision of the future of an organization. The process works best when the voices of many stakeholders are heard from. Through diversity, we all learn more and make better decisions. In this case leadership felt that it was important that the students voices were represented in the adult High School Future Search.

The day started off with a team building exercise called Zoom. In the exercise, two teams of students were asked to figure out how a series of images fit together. Each student had a number of images held close to their chest. They were instructed to share descriptions of their images in word only. Both teams quickly invented ways to organize themselves and solve the puzzle. The aim of the exercise was to show how every perspective and every voice is needed to solve complex issues.


The students went on to a paired share interview exercise. The topics of the interview were Academic Excellence, School Culture and Values, the School Environment and Teachers, Advisors & Administrators. From this exercise students brainstormed ideas to create the SMWHS of the future.

These ideas were captured on a sticky wall and organized into themes.


The students voted on the top five priorities for the next five years and produced the following provocative statements to take to the adult High School Future Search.

Student Leadership

Waldorf Students are leaders known to think outside the box. The Student Leadership Council of SMWHS has an active voice in effecting change, representing the high school student body. They are an independent body elected by the students, without direct faculty oversight. The Student Leadership Council encourages all students to give input and take action on issues effecting student life, using their voice to shape and influence the future.

College Prep

SMWHS effectively prepares students for the college entry process.   We give students multiple options for SAT/ACT test preparation. As an alternative to AP classes SMWHS students are given time during the day to take off campus courses that offer college credit.   SMWHS coordinates with outside college prep programs to provide student prep when courses are not offered in the school, including negotiating affordable rates for the students. SMWHS also recognizes excellent student performance through the National Honors Society and Honors Roll.

Academic Electives

SMWHS students are prepared for life by courses such as business, entrepreneurship, culinary arts and household finance that teach real world skills.   SMWHS students can cultivate new interests through diverse electives and off campus offerings from science to outdoor environmental studies.

Creative Electives

SMWHS has a creative elective program that inspires and engages the mind through a series of specialized programs. Students begin in small groups learning a wide range of basics. Then they progress to more specialized expirations of art, music and theater, with performance nights, art show and theatrical presentations.   This will be carried on into eurythmy, the timeless Waldorf dance, with a class that combines eurhythmy with hip-hop and modern dance movements.

Outdoor/Experiential Learning

SMWHS students are inspired and engaged through experiential learning, either outside the classroom or off campus. Experiential learning sparks student imagination and expands their capabilities. They style of learning is used across a wide range of subjects from arts to humanities and every thing in-between.

On Friday the 5th, four of the participants from the Student Future Search presented these provocative statements to the full adult High School Future Search. The students participated in the adult interview process and saw their ideas posted on the sticky wall.

The final full adult High School Future Search integrated the students’ vision into their final provocative statements for the future.   The process of creating a high school future, through vision work and strategy work will continue through the spring. A number of working task forces will be set up to look at strategy and action items. Several of these task forces will invite student participation.

Andy, Nita and I wish to acknowledge and thank the students for having the courage to step up and be a part of the future vision of Shining Mountain Waldorf High School.