Senior projects are becoming an integral part of high school’s curriculum. They provide seniors with the opportunity to develop and complete a significant project with limited adult supervision and as a result prepare them for life after high school. There are several different models of how to conduct senior project; each with their own positive and negative aspects. Some are run through an elective that a small percentage of students take, some are very academic and look similar to Master’s thesis, and others are akin to a community service requirement.

Novato High’s Senior Project: The senior project at Novato High School has been redesigned to be a very personal experience. Although it can be very rigorous, it is not necessarily “academic” in the traditional sense. Although the student must conduct research, the student does not necessarily produce a traditional research paper.

Role of the mentor: One of the most difficult tasks for seniors is finding an adult mentor in the community that can assist them in the completion of senior project. The mentor provides direction, advice, support and expertise to the student. Each project will require a different amount of contact between the mentors and students. Some projects may require a weekly meeting in person while another project may only require the mentor to check in with the student through email or a phone call with more infrequent face to face check-ins.

The Role of the teachers: The Senior Project is run through the 12th grade social studies classes (American Government and Economics). The teachers provide general support and check-in with the students on occasion but the expectation is that the students will complete much of the senior project during their own time. The senior project is NOT a graduation requirement rather it will count towards 20% of their second semester social studies grade.

The Journey: The senior project began this October when we asked our students to follow one of their passions. It could be related to anything they would like to pursue such as music, real estate, poetry, automobiles, triathlons – the possibilities are limitless. They are pushed to challenge themselves and take the next significant step in something they would like to accomplish. The students conduct some research in the area of their interest, find a mentor in the community who can help them achieve their goals, and document their progress. The senior project ends in May when they present their journey to a group of community members who ultimately determine if the student was successful in their journey.

How you can help! 

Parents can volunteer to be mentors or assist with the organization of senior project! Please contact Annette Doodokyan at [email protected] if you are interested or would like more information.

Novato Senior Project – More information

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