Have you ever produced a resume? How long has it been since you have had to complete an application for college or even a job? What about letters of reference? Are all of these current and ready for your future?
These questions sound like they are preparing you for “life” after school, don’t they? They certainly don’t sound like the traditional image of a senior project. They are however, some of the activities our students complete to satisfy the Jefferson County North High School Senior Project graduation requirement. Since its inception quite a few years ago, the senior project of the past consisted of a very large research paper that was graded for a fourth year Language Arts/Government credit, a product and a presentation. The project has recently been revised to make it more supportive of our District and High School Mission Statements, as well as making it more helpful and beneficial for our students. The tasks have been broken into several steps; identification of a project topic, updates as to the product making process, write a resume, fill out an application, ask for two letters of reference, develop the product, and present the results and process to a committee in the Spring. These skills will be expected of our graduates, and this is their chance to try their hand at a new topic while still in the supportive environment of our high school.
Some of our students are not very comfortable trying new things, especially when it comes to making a formal presentation. After having watched many senior presentations over the years I can tell you that you watching a student make the presentation is a wonderful experience. The look on their faces after they complete the presentation is priceless. All through their career at JCN we tell them that they can do it! We can teach them the fundamentals in the classroom, but what matters is what they are able to do outside the classroom---on their own. The senior project gives them a chance to prove it to themselves. It gives them an opportunity to stretch and grow, trying something outside their comfort zone; something that (hopefully) they have wanted to try, but never had the motivation.
“The mission of JCNHS is to enhance the educational skills for students to become productive citizens and life long learners.” As the current senior project coordinator, I believe that the project fully supports our mission statement. One of the goals of the senior project is to provide experiences that students might not otherwise have in high school. At the same time we need to be preparing them with skills that they will be required to have in their future. How many of us have had to write a resume, fill out an application, make a presentation, and go “outside our comfort zone”? I can guarantee that our graduates, after having completed the senior project, have had these experiences; and they are better for having had them.