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The process of obtaining


The student must be graduating in at least their 3rd year as a Sudbury student to apply for a Sudbury Diploma. 
The alternative to the diploma “route” is to graduate with a Certificate of Community Involvement, but not a formal Sudbury Diploma. Graduation will always be a celebration to “send off” students in their last year, regardless of diploma status.


To earn a Sudbury Diploma one should

  1. Have a history of regular attendance that is maintained in their last year (regular attendance is defined as 25 hours minimum per week with no more than the allotted personal days per school year).

  2. Follow specified timelines for their capstone project and for the creation of their reflective, community-approved transcript.

  3. Join the Graduation Committee in their 3rd to last year (“Sophomore year”)

  4. Apply for a diploma with the Graduation Committee in their 2nd to last year (“Junior year”).

  5. Begin their Capstone Project and form their Capstone Panel (made of Sudbury staff and graduates from around the world) to plan for the public presentation of their Capstone in their final (“Senior”) year. 

  6. Help plan the graduation event as part of the Graduation Committee.

Why this long process?

A Sudbury education is not measured by the cut-and-dry letter or numerical grades most schools base their students on.
The Sudbury process is one of personal growth and development to last a lifetime, and this is not something that can be rushed.

We find that a student's first year as a Sudbury student typically involves "getting their bearings" as they internalize self-direction and learn to navigate community life. The second year is typically a time of deep involvement in the community and the exciting pursuit of individual goals and projects. By a student's third year, they are typically ready to reflect on this experience of empowerment and want to leave a legacy for their community. 

While we welcome students at all points of the year any time during their K-12 education, a student can truly only earn a Sudbury diploma after completing this process. If they don't qualify or choose not to pursue a Sudbury Diploma, there are of course still many options for them as they graduate and move onto the next phase of their lives. 

Is it better to start Sudbury as young as possible? 
Yes! The research support that, in fact!
See a comprehensive report on Sudbury graduates from The Circle School in Harrisburg, VA. You'll notice that the earlier a child begins at Sudbury the farther they typically take their education into Graduate School and beyond!

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