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Transitioning to Upper School: Does Being Independent Mean You Shouldn't Ask for Help?

Monday, October 23, 2017

"You could keep on going around for as long as you wanted, and you would never get out. The only way to get out was to ask for help."

Khan Lab School students transitioning between Independence Levels are asked to share their lessons learned with teachers, families, and peers during our Term Exhibitions. Anjeli, who transitioned from Independence Level 5 (Middle School) to our new Independence Level 6 (Upper School), delivered her speech all the way from Switzerland. She spoke about learning to set her own goals in IL5, working hard to achieve those goals, and seeking guidance and help while maintaining her independence.

Read Anjeli’s full speech and watch her presentation below.

Hello, everyone! Greetings from Switzerland. Disclaimer: Although it may be super sunny over here, it is like 1:00 a.m. in California, and I am super jetlagged, so I might yawn at any point during this.

You might be thinking I could easily be cheating because this is a video. I could have my mom right there with a computer with my words: “Mom, could you scroll up? No, scroll down. No. Okay, yeah, that’s perfect.” I’m just kidding, I don’t have a cheat sheet. I had to memorize this just like everyone else did.

Anyway, back to IL6. I am going to explain how I got to IL6 – my journey, if I may.

In the past, and of course the present, I have been very fortunate with having wonderful teachers who not only taught me academics, but the true value of hard work, grit, and what it means to have a growth mindset.

Anjeli looking at a map with friends on her Middle School Orientation Trip in 2016At KLS, I learned how to set my own goals and what it means to be independent. I learned that being independent isn’t not asking for help. In fact, you need to be able to rely on others to be independent – just not too much.  One example of this was at the orientation camping trip at the beginning of the year. As most of my fellow “LabXers” may remember, on one of the last days of the camping trip, we played a game. We were all blindfolded and put into a maze. We were instructed to raise our hand if we needed help.

The maze’s walls consisted of rope tied to trees. We had to put our hand on one of the ropes and follow it along until we found an exit.

The trick was, there was no exit. You could keep on going around for as long as you wanted, and you would never get out. The only way to get out was to ask for help.

This was a very valuable lesson for me, because I normally don’t ask for help. This taught me that when you’re stuck, there is just a point when you stop learning, you are just struggling, and you don’t learn anything anymore – and you really need to ask for help; whether it be mathematics, science, or you’re stuck in a rural maze.

This lesson helped me a lot throughout the year, especially in the preparation for the IL6 challenge. I realize that being accepted into IL6 isn’t the end of my journey but the beginning. I have a lot of academic and personal goals that I think going into IL6 will definitely help me achieve.

My academic goals are to utilize all my time here to the fullest and seize every opportunity I have to learn and grow. My personal goals are social and emotional growth and to find my passion. I also realize that finding my passion will not happen overnight, but IL6 will definitely help me find it over time.

I am looking forward to more collaborative projects with my peers and discovering more learning opportunities. I also hope that I can find a way to lead my peers in IL6, even though I will be one of the youngest there.

I have discovered a family coming to KLS, and I hope to build even stronger bonds with my peers than I have over this year.

Now this is really going to sound like a college graduation speech, but I really want to thank my parents, my teachers, and my peers, and basically everyone in this room, because you all did something to help me achieve this goal.

Thank you.


This Transition Presentation was one of six shared with a large audience of family members and friends on August 17, 2017. The Upper School opened on September 5, 2017 – the first day of Khan Lab School's fourth year.


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