Senior Projects a Rite of Passage

By Suzanne Bizot Gorman, Head of the Downtown Campus

Senior Projects are a seminal event in the life of every SFS student, and as we are in the thick of them right now, I want to share with you what it’s all about and why we do it.

Senior Projects date back over two decades and were developed as a way to synthesize all the skills a St. Francis graduate had acquired in four years of high school – research, critical thinking, writing, presentation. The Projects are a graduation requirement and the process begins in the spring of 11th grade when students choose topics and submit proposals.  Proposals are tweaked and approved, and each student is given an advisor (a faculty or staff member).  The summer provides time for research, with an annotated bibliography due upon return to school in August and a subsequent meeting with the Senior Project Committee, headed by coordinator (and Chemistry teacher) Luke Johnson.  That fall and winter, students continue to work on their Projects and consult with their advisors, culminating with papers turned in and presentations made throughout February and March.  Each student presents in front of a three-person grading committee of faculty and staff (as well as an audience of other community members); the grading rubric includes points for process, research, writing, and presentation.  Students can earn a Pass, High Pass, or Honors grade.  In May, when all students are finished with their Senior Projects, we hold the Senior Project Showcase (in conjunction with the Student Art Show) so that they have the opportunity to share their work with the larger SFS community.

We encourage students to choose topics that are interesting to them, to take this opportunity to explore something new and exciting.  Senior Projects this year run the gamut from art curation and jazz transcription to academic looks at the media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict and dismantling hierarchies to projects that focus on horses, film, music, coral reefs, food deserts, and myriad other topics.  We are about a third of the way through presentations, with new ones occurring daily up until Spring Break.

Switching gears quickly:  KUDOS to our Governor’s Cup team on their performance at Regionals over Winter Break!  Our Quick Recall team and five students (taking a total of nine tests) will move on to the State competition in March – a huge achievement.  Check out the article on the Governor’s Cup in the newsletter for details on the team!