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.
The projects offer a rich and fulfilling experience that is unique to the student’s interests, passions, and/or career goals. Beginning during summer prior to senior year, students will work with their families, Christiane and their advisor 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 engaged in 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. On the other hand, students who have completed projects have universally said 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 understand better 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 Oceana and gained valuable advocacy and job experience
Shadowed at a Burke parent’s cancer treatment practice
On the Senior Project webpage, refer to a full list of student independent projects from the 2014-15 school year.
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. Their responsibilities include:
Role of Senior Project Coordinator -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.
Role of the Senior Advisor -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.
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.
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.
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.
Ideally, students will keep some sort of journal, e.g., a personal journal, a blog, photo or video journal, etc., during the two-week project. This will help them reflect on the significance their experiences. Also, the day before they present, seniors return to Burke to meet with their advisory group to share their project experiences and work on their presentations. Some questions students should consider as they prepare include:
What did the experience mean to you?
What are some concrete learning moments that stood out and why?
What did they learn about yourself and other people? Explain using stories and concrete examples.
How has your thinking about your project changed since before you started? What are you thinking/understanding now that you were not two weeks ago?
If you could go back in time, is there anything you would have changed and if so, what?
Prepare an introduction and title for your project.
Provide a hook - put a face to their project, lead by sharing a short, but impactful story about your project, share a statistic, present an outcome from their project
Provide details - What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you meet?
Share how your perspective has changed/not changed.
Conclusion - Share a final takeaway from the experience and open it up for Q&A.
September through December: Continue to brainstorm individually and with parents, teachers, advisors, the Senior Project Coordinator, etc. If possible, begin to reach out to potential community partners.
January and February: Seniors will complete a preliminary proposal form outlining their Senior Project, their goals, and next steps to pursue.
March: Seniors will complete a final proposal form and present their project to a committee comprised of the Senior Project Coordinator, the Senior Grade dean, and students’ advisor.
April: Seniors should be all set at this point! Seniors, their parents, and their community partners must sign and submit a final agreement form
May: Senior Projects happen!
June: Seniors return to Burke to share with the school community and how the school prepared them to engage fully on the experience.
List of 1 members.
Director of Service and Civic Engagement, Coordinator of Senior Projects
Georgetown University - B.A. University of Sussex - M.A. George Washington University - Ed.D.