Social Change

Senior Projects

The Senior Project Program gives students an opportunity to pursue interests and passions beyond the classroom, and allows them to explore and contribute to communities and workplaces outside of Burke.

Students work with their families, the service learning director and their advisor to find and develop a meaningful internship or project that takes place outside Burke in mid to late May of their graduating year.

The project should be unique to the student’s interests, passions, and/or career goals. Beginning early in the year, students work to a) connect with a community partner to engage in an internship, a service project, or a job, or b) conduct an independent study of a personally meaningful issue. Students may partner with other students in a small group.

To fulfill the requirements of the Senior Project, a student must  (a) submit and present their project proposal by the end of the second school trimester, (b) spend the last two weeks of May completing their project, and (c) present to the Burke community when they return. Senior Projects require a significant investment of time, effort and initiative on the part of the student, but alumni who have completed projects agree that it was one of the most rewarding experiences of their Burke career. In the recent past, students have:

  • Designed an anthropological study of DC barbershops
  • Volunteered at Iona Senior Services to better understand Alzheimer’s disease
  • Directed a social justice play at Lowell School on micro-financing in rural Haiti
  • Interned at the US Botanic Garden (which led to a paid summer job!)
  • Interned with the marine conservation group Oceana and gained valuable advocacy and job experience
  • Shadowed at a Burke parent’s cancer treatment practice


List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • What are the goals of the Senior Project?

    To explore and contribute to communities and workplaces outside of Burke, pursuing interests and passions beyond the classroom and engaging in experiential learning in the last two weeks of their Burke careers.
  • What is the criteria for the Senior Project?

    Senior Projects must include the following:
    • An adult supervisor who students will report to
    • Involve approximately 35 hours a week or approximately as much time as students would spend at school
    • Take place beyond the confines of Burke for the majority of the time
    • Be self-sustaining; the school will not finance students’ Senior Projects
    • Have a specific and tangible learning outcome
  • Who is involved in helping design a senior project?

    Seniors are encouraged to start early and discuss their ideas for Senior Project with family, friends, favorite teachers, advisors, the senior project coordinator, the grade dean, community contacts, etc. In particular, the senior project coordinator and the senior advisor will serve as students point-people on campus. 
    In coordination with the Senior Grade Dean and Advisors, the Senior Project Coordinator oversees all communication of the Senior Project to the Burke community; supports advisors and advisees to brainstorm and reach out to possible contacts; helps to maintain a database of potential contacts, sets the Project’s dates and deadlines; develops the Project proposal, guidelines, and expectations; meets with students in grade homeroom and individually to review what successful projects entail, e.g., how to reach out to potential contacts in the community, send a professional email, make a professional call, show potential partners that they are responsible and committed teens, etc.; oversees the final presentations of projects; conducts follow up surveys of seniors’ and community partners’ experiences; and helps to ensure that senior realize their goals for their individual projects.

    In addition to their regular advising duties, senior advisors serve as an on-campus project supervisor and support their advisees preparation for their Senior Project. Specifically, senior advisors brainstorm possible ideas and contacts with their advisees; offer guidance in reaching out to potential contacts in the community, including how to send a professional email, how to make a professional call, how to show potential partners that they are responsible and committed teens, etc.; keep advisees on track with deadlines; help them prepare for the proposal “defense” and final presentation to the Burke community; and help to ensure that their advisees engage in well-thought out and meaningful Senior Projects.
  • How do seniors get their project approved?

    Toward the end of January/beginning of February, seniors will submit a preliminary proposal form to identify what next steps they need to take in ensuring they line up a meaningful Senior Project. These preliminary proposals will create the foundation for their final proposal form that are due at the end of the third trimester before Spring Break.
    After submitting their final proposal, each student will present his or her proposal to a committee comprised of the Senior Project Coordinator, the 12th Grade Dean, and the student’s advisor. These presentations will be made during advisories in March. Students should be prepared to present their proposal and engage in a discussion/Q&A with the review committee. The committee will approve students’ proposals with certain conditions as necessary. After receiving approval, students will complete a final form with their community partners’ and parents/legal guardians’ signatures.
    If students do not present to the satisfaction of the committee, the committee will provide additional guidance for the student and set a follow-up proposal date. If the student does not meet the follow-up date, their campus activities will be restricted until they meet the requirements.
  • When will Senior Projects occur?

    Senior Projects occur during the final two weeks of May/the final two weeks of the school year. The week following the completion of the Senior Projects, students will return to Burke to prepare and practice their presentations to the Burke community.
  • What are the expectations of seniors’ presentations?

    On the Tuesday after seniors have completed their project, they will present on their culminating learning experience to the Burke community including middle and high school students, their teachers and parents, and their community mentors. Students’ presentations should follow these guidelines:
    • Have a visual aid, e.g., a poster board, video, blog/Tumblr, PowerPoint/Prezi.
    • Focus on what you learned about the world, yourself, your community and Burke during the past two weeks vs. a day-by-day dull timeline.
    • Share examples of how your Burke education prepared you for the experience.
    • Share what you knew before the experience and what you know after the experience.
    • Share expectations you had before starting your project and how and why those expectations changed and/or stay the same.
    • Include any significant realizations and insights gained from your Senior Project.
    Students will present more than once with audience members rotating around.

Burke Life

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Christiane Connors

    Christiane Connors 

    Director of Civic Engagement / HS Health, Values, & Ethics
    202-362-8882 x652
    Georgetown University - B.A.
    University of Sussex - M.A.
    George Washington University - Ed.D.

Past Projects

List of 6 items.

  • Art/Media/Design

    • Designing and creating murals that convey Burke’s mission and beautify its campus
    • Interning at the music venue 9:30 Club
    • Apprenticing with interior designer Charles Almonte
    • Apprenticing with a ceramic artist at a private studio
    • Interning at film production studio, PIXELDUST Studios
    • Apprenticing with artist Gary Rosenthal
    • Interning at the Torpedo Art Factory
    • Apprenticing at a local art gallery
    • Interning at architect firm Smith Group, JJR
    • Teaching at Back 2 Rock Music School
    • Interning at Seventeen Magazine in New York City
  • Business/Finance/Technology

    • Interning at the World Bank
    • Interning at Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle
    • Traveling to China to launch Dragon Dream, a business venture to introduce cheesecake to the Chinese market
    • Designing, administering and analyzing data for the National Archives on its Archives Boeing Learning Center
    • Helping to run a bed and breakfast and organic farm in PA
    • Interning at venture capital firm, Omidyar Network
    • Interning at technology firm in Cleveland
    • Interning at the Brookings Institute
  • Education/Community Outreach

    • Volunteering at a preschool in Lima, Peru operated by Verte Sonreir a women-run community development group
    • Teaching assistant to Stacy and HVE Department
    • Interning at DC Scores, an afterschool enrichment program
    • Supporting Spanish learning at the Rosemount Center
    • Volunteering at his local library reading to children, reshelving books and running after-school clubs
    • Interning at Asia America Initiative
    • Serving as a tour guide and translator for Chinese tourists visiting the United States for the first time
    • Teaching French at an elementary school in Utah
    • Interning at the Model Asperger’s Program at the Ivymount School
    • Volunteering at Little Falls Library
    • Volunteering at East Potomac Golf Course’s First Tee golf school
  • Environment/Animal Welfare

    • Interning at the U.S. Botanic Garden
    • Working and living at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA
    • Interning at Compassion Over Killing, an advocacy group for animals in the agricultural industry
  • Food/Culture

    • Shadowing Cantor Croen at Temple Sinai
    • Honing his baking skills at the bakery Pie Sisters
    • Touring Washington, DC’s museums and various historical and cultural sites to create a travel blog
    • Discovering the DC metropolitan area on their bikes and hiking trails in the Shenandoah mountains
  • Health

    • Shadowing midwives at Community Hope and at the Washington Hospital Center
    • Volunteering at the Walter Reed Medical Center
    • Shadowing a neurologist at the Washington Hospital Center
Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.