New requirements for senior project lead to fewer participants

by Amanda Malool
New guidelines for senior project applications have resulted in a drop in the number of students taking part in the end-of-year program.
This year, 64 seniors applied and 48 were approved to engage in various career-oriented internships during the last six weeks of school. An additional 22 will shadow educators in district schools as a part of the Tomorrow’s Teachers class. Last year, 114 seniors applied, and 92 were accepted, along with 18 student teachers.

The first step in the new application process is to obtain counselor verification that the proposed project is related to the senior’s career goals.
“[Principal] Dr. Heisey wanted it to be more rigorous so students could link it to their possible careers, instead of just using senior project to skip class,” said vice principal Timothy Donahue.
“After the AP tests, the school year winds down, but I wanted to be doing something involving my intended major,” said senior Jamie Rauch. “I’m going to be a psych major, and there is a lot of confidentiality surrounding the practice of psychology, so shadowing a guidance counselor was the closest I could get to the real thing.”
Many students initially applied for the project, but some withdrew their application during the second phase in which applicants are required to write a research paper.
“There was an essay to get in [to the program], and then another essay once you moved on to the next step,” said senior Hailee Sciara, who decided not to participate. “I thought it would be a waste of my time because I was also writing college essays, scholarship essays and honors program essays.”
In prior years, all seniors participating in the project were excused from final exams, but now students with less than an A- in any class may be required to return to school to take a modified final exam in that subject. Additionally, the time frame for the project is shorter.
The process was “difficult compared to previous years, but not unmanageable [and] really about your ability to see past the effort of the process and the stages,” said Rauch.
For members of Tomorrow’s Teachers, the scope of the project is relatively unchanged.
“I am a Hebrew school aide and I babysit all the time, so having the chance to teach in the classroom during the day is really exciting,” said senior Emily Koprowski, who will begin observing her mentor, Evergreen School second-grade teacher Debbie Skaar, on May 13.