I often hear people say that today’s high schoolers are consumed by pop culture and the latest technology and thus not fully engaged in the world around them. In my opinion, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While visiting two different southern Maine high schools recently, I had the opportunity to observe members of the class of 2016 report out on their senior projects and truth be told; I have gained even more hope about our next generation! In fact, relax we are in good hands.
The basic concept behind a senior project is to provide graduating high school seniors with an opportunity to engage in an area of personal interest outside of the classroom setting at the completion of the high school experience. Some senior projects focused on volunteering whereas others provided opportunities for students to experience what it is like to work in a particular career field. In both instances, the senior projects filled a void between final exams and graduation while also providing meaningful experiences for the students.
Some of the Senior projects ranged from:
Volunteering in a U.S. Senator’s office,
Collecting used children’s bikes for inner city elementary students,
Repainting and cleaning up a community baseball dugout,
Shadowing a police detective,
Learning how to run a small business (local ice cream stand),
Working in a veterinary clinic
Volunteering at a local land trust.
At both high schools, the seniors were required to discuss why they picked the particular project, what went well, and any insights they gained from the overall experience. When each of these students reported out, they became animated explaining how the experience had made a difference in their life and the lives of others. One student discussed how volunteering in a local kindergarten classroom had helped her figure out that she still wanted to go to college for teaching, but now she knew she wanted to work with older students. Another student whose senior project focused on public health statistics spoke about what it was like working in an office environment all day. The work was interesting she said, but being in an office wasn’t a good fit, so she was now thinking about going into community public health.
The school developed the concept of the senior project, but the students have embraced these experiences, and I hope it continues to grow.
Thank you, class of 2016, for volunteering and giving back!