by Meredith Abrams
Students can become experts in topics they are interested in through Senior Year Project, according to English teacher Stephen Chinosi.
“We believe that our seniors possess incredible intellectual powers and the best way to sharpen those skills is through an independent project, like SYP,” Chinosi said.
SYP is an alternative to regular classes in which second semester seniors do independent research in a subject, culminating in a presentation.
“When a student would like to pursue a topic, towards mastery, without the distractions of modern schooling, then SYP is a good fit,” Chinosi said.
Very few limitations on what students can research exist, he said.
The only requirement is that projects “possess a researchable question and an appropriateness for academic inquiry.”
Choosing to undertake a project is a big decision, though. Students have to be ready to “pursue a topic with a deep commitment towards autonomy, insight and mastery,” Chinosi said.
According to Chinosi, however, it is worth the work. “Our SYP alumni tell us, every year, ‘thank you for giving me my first year of college during SYP.’
Students gain insights into their own abilities, and they come to understand real scholarship and academic inquiry,” he said. Chinosi said that so far, SYP 2011 is an overwhelming success.
“It’s the journey that matters, not the destination. We have a world-class curriculum in SYP, and every student that participates is guided through an incredible and rewarding intellectual and personal journey.
“The students find ‘aha!’ moments, they feel fear, they struggle, they make breakthroughs, they discover what kind of thinker and doer they will be in university and in life,” Chinosi said.
SYP also creates a meaningful end to a senior’s high school career, said English teacher Kevin McGrath.
“Senior Year Project gives students control of their own education by allowing them to explore the possibilities of their own creative talents,” he said.
One advantage of SYP is that students are internally driven to do their work, he said.
“If you have a passion that you haven’t had a chance to explore yet in high school, it’s a good choice,” he said. “An SYP student from 2010 said it best: ‘finally, what I want to do is what I have to do.’”
Students that do SYP gain a skill set not achieved in high school, McGrath said.
“Students understand how to identify and reach toward their dreams. By this process, students gain the skills necessary to explore any subject.”
“We think and work both independently and collaboratively with faculty and experts in the field,” he said.