Celebrating the End of the 2023-2024 School Year at Headwaters

Headwaters School
Commencement, Gates of Life ceremonies, and 8th Grade Graduation mark the culmination of a remarkable year at Headwaters. Relive the highlights and witness the joy through captivating photos! See slideshows and read inspiring words from our graduates and faculty below

High School Commencement

Our end-of-year events kicked off with our capstone event–High School Commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium at The University of Texas. 

We were thrilled to welcome friends, family, guides, and staff to the Class of 2024 Commencement. With skilled student speakers (Meredith Cole, Eli Floyd, and Stewart Haas); musical performance with Meredith Cole and Guide Douglas Matus; a keynote speech by the incomparable Guide Tia Butler; and an incredible cold-open film by senior Hendrix Crockard–this ceremony shared what makes Headwaters so special. We invite you to watch the entire livestream and see the Commencement Program, too! Below are some takeaways from the ceremony:

Before presenting diplomas to the Class of 2024, Head of School Ted Graf had a moment to reflect on the history of Headwaters and celebration of our graduates. He shared, “The Gates of Life remind us to pause and savor this moment; to recognize who we are now on this side of the gates and who we wish to become. The Gates are intended to be an invitation for all to remember that education, at its very best, can and should be transformative.”

Eli Floyd ‘24 was one of our student speakers. In his speech he gave advice based on his favorite hobby–running. Here are his three tips: 
  • The first lesson I’ve learned is to pace yourself to the best of your ability. All of your goals, whether they be academic, career-oriented, or personal, take time. It’s not realistic to go a mile on your first run and immediately jump a marathon on your next. When it comes to goals, I’m sure everyone’s been taught the SMART acronym– that is, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-oriented. All of that is correct, however a key thing left out is pacing. Just like how the diploma we’ll receive today is the result of countless assignments, IAs, CAS hours, and tests, all big achievements can be broken down into smaller ones. Pacing is often the biggest challenge with a daunting goal. Going too slow, or procrastinating, as everyone here has learned at some point, forces you to sprint to make up the time, leading to stress and fatigue. But going too fast and only thinking in terms of the future leads one to ignore the journey and not savor the moment. Don’t let pressures, whether from yourself or others lead you to rush. 
  • This leads me to tip #2, which is to focus on yourself.  Much like Saturday mornings on Town Lake, the trail to success is a crowded one, and it’s easy to compare yourself to others. In the age of social media, going online can become a bombardment of others’ achievements, which can leave us feeling detached from reality and inferior. As someone who loves competition, I’ve found that the best strategy to resist this urge is by competing with myself. Doing so provides a framework to measure your achievements, while avoiding the negatives. So when you reach a victory in life, celebrate humbly, and when you inevitably get lapped, don’t sweat it. Ultimately, everyone is running their own race.
  • Last, but most importantly, surround yourself with people who will support you in your goals. The bonds we’ve formed at Headwaters will, I’m sure, be long lasting friendships, and we’ll only make more wherever we go next. Ultimately, your circle will be the ones who cheer you on the loudest when you are at your best , and cheer you up when you’re at your worst. No one succeeds alone, and it’s important to develop and foster relationships in all areas of your life. Don’t crave homogeneity. It’s important to be with people who will challenge you, physically, spiritually, intellectually. Doing so will make you a better person as a whole.
And finally, High School Director Avé Luke-Simpson closed the ceremony with a beautiful reflection on the accomplishments of this senior class, noting that it was her first class of students who she was with from freshman to senior year. Avé shared some excerpts from this piece called I Hope You Find What You Are Looking For Out There by Bianca Sparacino and invited everyone to read the entire work. 

Click here to see photos from our photographer, Paige Wilks of Austin School Portraits.

Eighth Grade Graduation

On Thursday, May 23, 2024, we joined together at the Downtown Central Library to honor and celebrate an important milestone–8th Grade Graduation. The afternoon was full of personality—even as guests arrived there was student art celebrating our graduates on display. Thank you to our student speaker, Veda Bilbe, for her insight and eloquence. Thank you to our Guide of the Year, Will Clark, for sharing the keynote for the event, too. And a big thank you to 8th grader Isaac Rocha for his banjo performance of “Home Sweet Home” by Flatt & Scruggs. It was a wonderful afternoon! 

Click here to see photos from our photographer, Paige Wilks of Austin School Portraits.

Springs Gates of Life

We began the morning of Friday, May 24, 2024, by honoring our Young Children's Community (YCC) graduates with a heartwarming ceremony. These students, now embarking on exciting journeys to the Primary program, were acknowledged and celebrated!

The celebrations continued with Primary classrooms recognizing students moving up to the next grade level. Parents and students alike shared in the joy of these milestones. To conclude the festivities, the entire Springs Campus community gathered on the playground for a momentous event–the Gates of Life ceremony. As Primary graduates symbolically walked through the gates, a shower of confetti marked the occasion. It was a truly special way to end another school year!

Click here to see photos from our photographer, Paige Wilks of Austin School Portraits.

Creek Gates of Life

The Creek Campus was buzzing with excitement as we celebrated the culmination of the 2023-2024 school year on Friday, May 24, 2024! The morning unfolded with heartfelt classroom gatherings, where students and teachers acknowledged and celebrated the achievements of those moving up and moving on.

This joyous energy spilled over into the Grove, where the Elementary community united for a spectacular end-of-year celebration. We were treated to a vibrant showcase of musical talent, featuring performances by our K-1, Early Elementary, and Upper Elementary students. The morning also featured an extra special rendition of “What a Wonderful World” “ featuring parent Suzanna Choffel on guitar and Director of Facilities Bobby Bullard as a vocalist joining the Early Elementary classes. 

The highlight of the ceremony arrived with the symbolic Gates of Life and sharing what we mean when we say, “An ending is but another beginning. Rejoice all ye who pass through these gates.” As one steps through the gates, they carry the lessons learned and memories made within these walls. On the other side, a future brimming with possibilities awaits, ready to become their new "now." 

5th graders were welcomed to the front to receive certificates and flowers, walking through the gates together one final time as elementary students. Departing guides and staff were also honored with words of love and admiration and a walk through the gates.

We extend heartfelt congratulations to all who passed through the gates!

Click here to see photos from our photographer, Paige Wilks of Austin School Portraits.

More Photos to Purchase

Finally, if you wish to support our photographer purchase photos or prints directly from Paige, please email communications@headwaters.org for the password to the album. Or you can log in to the Nest, click Resources, and then search for the tile “Student Life Photos.” We share the link and password there.

Spring Campus

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Creek Campus

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River Campus

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As a 501(c)3 non-profit school, Headwaters School does not discriminate because of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other classes protected by federal, state, or local law in its admissions, financial aid, hiring, or board membership processes.