Senior Projects During COVID

Anna Fenkel, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has changed all aspects of student life at Harriton. Specifically, seniors have experienced a multitude of transitions during the year, and are currently addressing the challenges of planning their annual senior project. 

Every year, the seniors dedicate their second semester to plan, organize, and take part in senior projects. Preliminary work includes journal entries, meeting with faculty advisors, and identifying the project. Students work in their chosen field between May 10 – May 28.

The project culminates with a presentation to a faculty panel in June. The goal of this project is to teach self-sufficiency and ease the seniors into a life of work and community outreach. 

The types of projects include internships, service learning, service projects, and individual research projects. Each student must secure a mentor to guide them and sign off on completed work.

In order to adjust to COVID restrictions, the project handbook outlines safety expectations, saying, “The senior selects the topic for the project and creates an essential question with the guidance of the advisor. Projects must be completed within the health and safety guidelines that students follow in their every day classes. Some projects might take place through virtual environments and remote activities.” 

COVID-19 has resulted in other modifications being made to the project. The most notable of which is the service requirement changing from 70 hours to 50 hours. This change, while accommodating, does not seem to solve the challenges for many.

Seniors are struggling to find meaningful projects in a COVID environment. In past years, the seniors had in-person meetings with their advisors and had many opportunities during the school day to ask clarifying questions. Currently, faculty advisors and students meet every other week virtually. 

Despite these challenges, students are excited about a change in routine and new experiences. Sam Belcher exemplifies this optimism by explaining that “it’s good to have an activity during quarantine and something to look forward to. I see this as a way to set myself up to explore my passions.”

Although senior projects have been different than other years, students are hopeful and eager to immerse themselves in their work.

Belcher described his feelings about the new COVID changes, saying, “Senior year has not been what I expected; however, we have all adjusted and [I am] glad that Harriton is offering us some normalcy.” 

Mr. Crooke, faculty lead for senior projects (and faculty advisor for The Harriton Banner), sees both sides of the transitions, saying, “Senior project is alive and well. We have shaped it in a way that puts the safety of our seniors first. The biggest challenge was revising our handbook and getting that new information out to the advisors and seniors.”

Luckily the challenges Mr. Crooke highlights are described as “not very prevalent” by Sam Belcher. While there are obstacles, seniors are finding creative and significant ways to end their far-from-normal year.