Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rethinking Senior Year

My first session this morning was envigorating! Janice Dreis and Larry Rehage presented on "Rethinking Senior Year" a program they co-advised at New Triere High School in Winnetka, IL for twelve years.
The program started with a desire to Banish "senioritis" by creating student engagement through four programs 1)Senior Guidance Plan/Institute, 2)Year-long Senior Sevice Project, 3) Senior Instructional Leadership Corps (SILC) and 4)Senior Project.
The Senior Guidance Plan/Institute begins with a senior survey at the beginning of the year asking "What skills/information have you not received that you need for life?". Many students choose the same skills/information each year and roughly 15 topics are identified ranging from success in college, stress relief, and money management to more serious topics such as AIDS Awareness and STD's. Through out the year topics are addressed in the students advisory periods either by the teacher or by students who wish to present. Speakers are also brought in and special senior assemblies are held. Their goal is to hit the topics in as many ways and as many times as possible through the year. The program concludes with a Senior Institute Day where community members speak on the topics selected by the students.
Senior Instrucation Leadership Corps (SILC) is where seniors serve as teaching assistants in classrooms across the curriculum and across all grade levels 2-5 days week. They don't just make photo copies but act much like a student-teacher would and receive one credit for each semester. In 1998 New Trier had 26 seniors take part in this aspect of the program and in 2007 162 seniors participated.
The Senior Project takes place during the last 5 weeks of the school year. The seniors stop going to school completely and have an internship under a community sponsor. They must write daily logs and reflections, a time sheet, a sponsor evaluation must be turned in and the student presents their work to an evaluation committee. Which is graded on a pass/fail basis.
Lastly is the Year-Long Senior Service Project. The senior senate chooses a service theme each year which most often happens to be Habitat for Humanity. They take part in raising the money for the house, construction 3 days a week and do cross curricular learning about social, political, and economic issues surrounding affordable housing and Habitat for Humanity.
Through the many video's we watched it was evident that the seniors were engaged and loved what they were doing. It allowed for real world experience and I would have to agree that they are better equipped for life outside of high school.


Adeleon said...

I went to the ASCD convention and also attended both of the conferences offered about the Senior Engagement Programs. Within about two weeks I will present the pilot program to my school faculty and administrators. I need to get in touch with one of the two authors of the program.

Larry said...

You can contact the presenters of "Rethinking the Senior Year" at the following: or

We are happy to work with anyone who is interested in the programs we presented.

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Very interesting and deep conversations about improvisation! Thanks !!!&...