Seniors Prepare Proposals for Project Season
by Rebecca Chernick on Friday, February 21st, 2014
Each spring, Milton Academy seniors have the option of devising and completing “senior projects” in lieu of academic classes. Beginning in May, the five-week project period provides seniors with the opportunity to pursue an existing passion or to explore a new interest.
The selection of a sponsor, a Milton Academy faculty or staff member generally with expertise in the project area, kicks off the senior project process. If the project involves going off-campus, a student must also find a mentor at that location who will oversee their work and communicate with his or her on-campus sponsor. Students then submit a proposal to a committee of faculty members, stating what their project entails and why they believe the idea would be interesting, valuable, and educational.
Popular past projects have included internships, research papers, art portfolios, movies, music writing and composition, yoga, Pilates, and kickboxing. Students can pursue a full project, which involves forty hours of work per week; a three-quarter project, which requires thirty hours per week; a half project, which involves twenty hours of work per week; or two half projects.
The process thus far has proved very easy for some students. Helena Thatcher (I) is doing two half projects, one studying early childhood development and one designing a model home with Mr. Cheney’s guidance. She said, “I am looking forward to studying and working in areas of interest that I have never had time to explore during high school.” She added, “The ideas just sort of came to me. I’m not sure how hard it will be to get it approved, but so far scheduling meetings and writing the proposal hasn’t been that bad.”
For others, however, passing their senior projects has been more strenuous. Tiffany Guan (I), also pursuing two half projects, stated, “The application process so far is very long. Since I have two half projects, that involves my meeting with four different people. The questions on the application are not hard to answer, but the schedule is proving difficult to come up with, since it requires us to know exactly what we are doing each day. So far, all my sponsors and overseers have been very helpful, but the application process itself seems to require more work than it should need to be.”
Among many students who are using the projects as a period to pursue their passions, Johnnie Gilmore (I) is excited to have time to play music. “I’ve not had nearly the time to play music that I’ve wished for during this stressful semester,” he said, “so it will be great to have a month entirely devoted to that!” He added, “Coming up with the idea was easy — I’ve known for a while that I wanted to play solo bass music for my senior project, and then I couldn’t resist when Daisy Walker (I) asked me to arrange songs for different styles with her!”
Other students, such as Kayla Jang (I), who is doing two half projects with Jennifer Lara (I), were inspired by courses they have taken at Milton. She said, “I had a general sense that I wanted to do some kind of experiment after learning about many aspects of psychology in Ms. DeBuhr’s Topics in Psych class last year.” For her other project, Kayla decided to learn to play the ukulele. She explained, “I have no musical background with string instruments, but I knew I wanted to learn how to play an instrument for one of my projects. I heard from a few friends and my brother that the ukulele is pretty simple and fun to play, so that’s how I decided on the uke. Furthermore, since the school does nothing in terms of helping with the expenses, I chose the ukulele because for instruments, it’s pretty cheap (around $100 for a decent ukulele).”
“Senior projects give you an incredible amount of freedom, and there’s some pressure in finding the best choice for this opportunity,” said Nadya Yeh (I). “Actually writing the proposal isn’t that bad since it’s just mapping out how you’re spending that month; the main concern is getting the idea passed.”
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