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Bitney Prep students present Exhibitions

Submitted to The Union

For the past seven years, at the end of each semester, students at Bitney Prep High School in Grass Valley reflect upon their experiences, their learning, their lives and their direction. This culminates in Exhibitions. For their Exhibition, every Bitney Prep student stands before an audience of their peers, their teachers, their parents, and their mentors, and delivers a 45-minute presentation going back through the previous semester and articulating what they have learned, how they have changed, and how all of this has helped shape their goals. These Exhibitions are an integral part of how Bitney Prep prepares its students for their futures.

Jonathan Molnar, Bitney Prep’s director, says, “Students spend many years in school being assessed and graded by their teachers. Exhibitions, which are a form of authentic assessment, give students structured opportunities to assess themselves and tell their own stories of learning and growth. The kind of self-assessment and reflection that students experience through their Exhibitions helps to develop skills that students will take with them into their adult life.”

Bitney Prep’s science teacher, Amy Pugel, agrees. “How often do students assess themselves? And if they do, what does that assessment look like? Exhibitions provide our students a structured opportunity to delve into their learning in a truly unique way. At Bitney, we emphasize the importance of authenticity, being true to who you are, as well as actively participating in your local community and becoming a responsible global citizen, and the Exhibition lets students present on their growth in these areas and reflect on who they are now, how they have changed, and who they are becoming.”

During their Exhibitions, students don’t just focus on their academics. A significant portion of their presentations has students talking about their Internships. Every Wednesday, instead of being on campus, all Bitney Prep students are out in the community at an internship of their choosing. From veterinary clinics to local middle schools, from automotive shops to artist’s studios, from working with the blacksmiths at Empire Mine to building out camper vans at Cascade Campers, Bitney Prep students can be found throughout the community learning real-world, essential skills in areas of their individual interests.

These authentic experiences lead to authentic reflections, and Bitney Prep’s students’ Exhibitions are a showcase for these. Through these presentations, students often express surprise and enthusiasm for how they have matured as individuals and how both Bitney Prep’s nurturing environment and the relationships they have built with their Internship mentors have helped their future goals come that much more into focus.

Trent Felty, a Bitney Prep Junior, says of Exhibitions, “I think they allow us to rediscover ourselves. We take ourselves for granted a lot and Exhibitions really remind us of who we are and who we want to be.” Bitney Prep Senior Emerson Pondexter continues that thought. “I think Exhibitions are a super good reflection on the semester and a great way to gather and share your thoughts about life and your semester with your peers.”

Giving a 45-minute presentation in front of an audience is a nerve-wracking experience for pretty much everyone. It’s especially so for teenagers, and this is compounded by the fact that Bitney Prep students are spending all that time talking about themselves. The staff at Bitney Prep are highly aware of this and are there to support and encourage each student to shine. “The kind of public self-reflection that students experience through their Exhibitions can be very challenging and stressful. We work hard to support students as they develop a level of comfort with this kind of public speaking. It is amazing to see the growth in confidence that many students experience as they prepare and present exhibitions throughout their high school career,” notes Molnar.

Bitney Prep Math teacher, Alison Harper, echoes this sentiment, “Students are usually incredibly nervous — especially for their first Exhibition, but, afterward, they feel proud of themselves for completing something so challenging. It is great to see their progress and growth after each Exhibition.”

Reflection is an integral part of education. Through Exhibitions, Bitney Prep High School helps its students look back in order to chart a course to where they are headed.

Source: Bitney Prep High School

Bitney Prep student Fiona Baker presents her Exhibition. Through Exhibitions, Bitney Prep High School helps its students look back in order to chart a course to where they are headed.
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