Class I Students Prepare for Annual Senior Projects
by Rachael Allen on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013May 2nd marks the beginning of Milton’s annual senior project period, when most Class I students spend their last month of high school pursuing a self-designed independent study. The projects reflect a myriad of interests and goals and exemplify the diversity of talents of Milton seniors. Through these projects, the seniors can enjoy their senior spring and finish their time at Milton with one last testament to their work here.
While senior projects allow students to expand on what they have learned and pursued at Milton, seniors are also able to try something new. During the last week of school, seniors share their experiences through a final presentation. Other students in the community enjoy the knowledge, awe, and entertainment inspired by the projects.
While seniors are not required to attend everyday classes during May, they develop their projects under the advice and guidance of a number of Milton faculty members. Each senior has an overseer,–a member of the Senior Project Committee, led by Ms. Kaufman–a sponsor, and, in the case of off-campus projects, a mentor. Under these adults’ advice, students craft and propose to the committee either a half project, 20 hours per week, a three-quarter project, 30 hours per week, or a full project, 40 hours per week.
To help with the proposal-writing process, students are encouraged to visit Ms. Williams in the library to view projects from previous years. According to Ms. Williams, about fifteen to twenty students have already come with the hopes of being inspired by a past idea. Documented in the library are past seniors’ final papers and proposals and some seniors’ Milton-related projects, such as a booklet containing interviews and stories about many of the staff members and a project about Milton alumni.
Most of the time, final project proposals that the seniors write are approved by the committee, as long as the student has taken into account his/her overseer’s advice. Ms. Kaufman says projects that do not pass are when the locations or required tools do not realistically make sense or when there are safety concerns or potential liabilities for the school. Since the time senior projects began in the late 1970s, these regulations have become more constrained, limiting much travel and keeping in mind the changing curriculum and the overall responsibility of the school.
Typical projects include internships, teaching, athletics, arts, and community service. These positions are made possible by the wealth of connections Milton maintains with community service sites, the lower school, Milton Public Schools, and Milton alumni, such as Dr. Adam Wolfberg ’88, who has greatly helped connect students to internships shadowing doctors.
However, many projects have reached far out from the traditional. Ms. Kaufman recounts how one year, a boarder rode his bike to an internship at Konditor Meister (A bakery in Braintree), ultimately baking a cake for his sponsor. Jonah Francese ’09 organized a music festival, pulling together over thirty Milton students to perform. With the many restrictions and necessary signatures, several of these projects seem uncertain upon first glance; however, determined seniors have pushed through, leading to some unforgettable projects. Such is the case with the mural on the shed by the track, portraying a runner morphing into a mustang, a striking display painted by EJ Bennett ’12 and Victoria Lee ’12.
This year students are continuing to create projects that expand upon their interests and help benefit the community. With Dr. Richards as her sponsor, seasoned runner Sarah Anderson (I) is planning to do a half project of running 100 miles in 30 days. Additionally, in an area new to her, Sarah will complete another half project of knitting for charities, with Ms. Roethke-Kahn, Hathaway House Head, as her sponsor.
Ali Edwards (I) is also planning to complete two half projects; under the sponsorship of Ms. McCuen, a Milton 1st grade teacher, Ali will return to her 1st grade classroom and help teach while also working on 3D computer imagery, with Mr. Simonson as her other sponsor.
Similarly, Genevieve Iwanicki (I) will return to her old elementary school, Cole School. Working at the school five hours a day, helping in reading, writing, math, the kindergarten play, and potentially in an advanced third grade reading group, Genevieve will blog about her time at the school, ultimately creating a paper or presentation as her final product. Genevieve said she decided to pursue this project because “[she has] been volunteering continuously at the school since [she] came to Milton in 6th grade because [her] sisters still went there and [she] wanted to remain connected with the community.”
A group of three seniors, Jonathan Esty, Caleb Warren, and Evan Garnick, are planning a more unconventional kind of project. Their proposal involves a month of playing German-style board games and analyzing them in the context of strategic thought. “It’ll be outrageous fun,” said Warren, “and quite intellectual to boot.”
Senior projects have become not only an opportunity for seniors to explore an avenue for future learning but also a chance to do something enjoyable while giving back to the community.
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