Senior student projects put best interests first
Many high school seniors who finish required courses and are accepted early to college find themselves in an academic holding pattern during their last semester.
Not so for 17 seniors at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), however. Since January, they worked on projects of their choice, exploring everything from history, social issues, and the arts, to training horses, designing clothes, and making wool blankets.
The students received guidance at school from a teacher and advice from mentors in the community, if possible. A senior project takes the place of at least three courses. Those working on projects attend school on an alternate day schedule similar to the work/study program.
Graded on a pass/fail basis, a senior project includes a journal to document progress, a 10-page minimum paper, and a 20-minute presentation at the semester's end before a committee of five people.
Students may choose two of their committee members, which may be one of their peers. Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) president Linda Hughes, and Colleen McAndrews, next year's PTO president, matched up professionals and members of the Island community with project committees related to their expertise.
Assistant principal Carlin Hart oversaw the senior project program. He attended all 17 presentations, scheduled three mornings a week over the past two weeks.
"I was just really impressed with it all," Mr. Hart said. No matter what the topic, he added, "I was mesmerized by every one of them."
The final presentations last Thursday by Theresa Demattia and Kat Monterosso exemplified the diverse topics students tackled.
Last fall Ms. Demattia took a fashion history, sewing, and draping class with renowned fashion designer Lorraine Parish of Vineyard Haven. For her senior project, she decided to sew five dresses, one of them a Christian Dior style gown.