The tradition of senior projects no longer mandatory this spring
A Hockaday tradition since the early ‘70s, senior projects, a period where seniors shadow a professional in a field of their interest for several days, have helped girls learn about life in the working world. But as a result of the change in AP schedules, senior projects are no longer a graduation requirement. This year, only five girls will carry on the tradition.
With this tight scheduling, students no longer have a week between the last AP exams (which now fall on May 18) and commencement week, eliminating the time slot for senior projects, assuming the senior is taking AP exams. Though senior projects are no longer required, seniors are given three days of excused absences to use for their projects if they so choose.
Senior Chandler, one of the few completing a project, said one of the reasons she chose to do a senior project was because her AP schedule was heaviest in the first week of testing, leaving her time for a senior project.
She looks forward to the opportunity to “try something new and interesting.” Though her intended major is engineering, Chandler decided to intern for a wedding planning business, As You Wish, driven by a desire to try something different from what she believes she will do later in life.
After watching wedding shows on TV, Chandler googled wedding planning businesses in the area and is now excited to intern with As You Wish Wedding and Events.
On the other hand, Senior Blair plans to spend her three days shadowing someone in either engineering, medicine or science.
Since she only has one AP exam this year, Blair plans to complete a senior projects, which she says is “a right of passage” and gives students a “taste of what jobs and internships” are possibly like.
“I think it’s a good idea to make senior projects optional this year because it relieves stress from the seniors with lots of AP exams,” said Blair.
Senior Mary France, however, disagrees with Blair and hopes for the return of senior projects next year.
“Most seniors are no longer exposed to the opportunities to broaden their professional skills and social networks in the manner senior projects provided,” said Mary France.
Senior Caitlin, like many of her peers, decided to forgo a senior project. Caitlin would have liked to do a senior project because of the experience; however, she thought that the presentations that were required with the project caused too much of a time crunch and wished that they were optional rather than required.
Caitlin also said that having senior projects earlier in the fourth quarter next year might be a solution that would prevent the undue stress caused by AP exams coupled with a project and presentation crammed into a small time window.
As for the future of senior projects, Head of Upper School John Ashton said that the change of schedule has given the school the opportunity to “step back and evaluate the original goal of the projects” and to make sure they are still accomplishing what they were originally put in place to do.
Ashton said the projects are “still a valuable experience” and that maintaining some kind of culminating activity, whether it be the projects or something new, is important.
“For the following year, we must think creatively in regards to the College Board calendar (which sets the AP exam times) to try to find a space for senior projects or even something new,” Ashton said.
Even without definite plans for the following years, Ashton hopes to continue to provide girls with the “opportunity to share their passions and inspire each other” and is “open to suggestions” regarding ideas for the future and the possible creations of new traditions similar to senior projects.