MORRISTOWN, NJ - Over 20 years ago, on a living room floor an idea for a school emerged. In 1998, that dream manifested itself into a reality, and Unity Charter School opened its doors, with a progressive mission. The mission written on the original department of education filing states that, “The mission of Unity Charter School is to provide an environment for learning which fosters the development of the responsible use of freedom, promotes a choice of interests in which to master fundamental concepts and which encourages ownership and personal power within the context of an ecologically responsible community.” One can only imagine how different the world might be, if all schools had embraced the ideas of freedom, personal power, and responsible community.
Today, the school exemplifies academic excellence, infusing Education for Sustainability throughout the school culture. Student agency drives critical thinking and advocacy. At Unity, the students are committed to making a meaningful impact towards a sustainable future. Unity, however, is more than the challenging academic rigor of its classes, its 14 clubs and 4 sports, or its thriving theater department. Unity Charter School is a true commUNITY, in every sense of the word. Last week the school graduated its largest class with 28 students. One of our recent graduates summarized the Unity experience in his graduation reflection. The reflection speech is something all graduates take part in and share at the graduation ceremony. Here are the notes he shared with us.
I once was a boy who went to a school, that celebrated sameness.
I stood in lines
of fine pressed uniforms
A perfect line of soldiers.
We cheered the same thoughts, we shunned the unique
And I was half of me.
4th grade marched on
My chance had come
To be who I was meant to be.
At a school that celebrates Uniqueness
Where diversity – of thought, color, origin,
age and skill are the norm
We are more likely here…than anywhere else….to be our authentic selves
So yes – I’m a naturalist,
and I’m a birder….
If I were anywhere else, you probably wouldn’t know that…
At Unity…I have learned to become 100% my authentic self.
And for that…I am so grateful
So Thank you, my amazing teachers and administrators – for being my friends and mentors
Thank you, my family, for always loving and supporting me and my passions
And thank you to my classmates and friends.
You are all unique and exceptional
Continue being authentically you
Because I can’t wait to see the kindness,
and the greatness that will spread from these walls
in years to come.