COVID-19 Forces Senior Project Restructuring

Last+year%2C+Jordan+Minor+%2719+interned+with+Athletic+Director+Jeff+Gates+for+his+Senior+Project%2C+helping+in+a+Lower+School+gym+class.+

David Cutler

Last year, Jordan Minor ’19 interned with Athletic Director Jeff Gates for his Senior Project, helping in a Lower School gym class.

Nico Jaffer

Each May, the Senior Project allows the graduating class to explore fields that interest them outside of School.

But this year, due to COVID-19, things look different. 

Much of the project has been restructured, including new due dates, guidelines, and a new list of potential projects. 

“In shifting these expectations, we have taken into consideration the impact social distancing will have on the ability to do certain project proposals,” Upper School Head Joshua Neudel and Senior Project Director Diana Scharrer wrote in a July 13 email to students and families. “In developing the new plan, we listened to student feedback and their desire to remain connected, parent feedback, teacher concerns, and considered the impact of the shift in AP exam schedule.”

In response to the pandemic, the College Board decided to not only change AP test format, length, and content assessed, but also exam dates. For the first time in history, students are also taking AP exams remotely.

In another email, Neudel and Scharrer also shared detailed explanation of the revised requirements, accessible by clicking here.

This could include learning a new skill or hobby—such as playing an instrument or learning to code. Others might opt to support those in need through making masks, or writing letters of support to first responders.

“My senior project has changed from helping out with the Middle School Musical to making a virtual performance video of Nine Hundred Miles sung by Greenline,” Catherine Leeder ‘20 said. “It is a very different approach to music because it is more based on technological skills. Although it is not the senior project I had in mind, I am happy that I am trying to help the Brimmer community in some way. I believe that music can shine a positive light on the situation that we are all facing.”

Revised deadlines shorten the project by about a week, from May 4 to May 22, culminating in a virtual senior week beginning May 25. 

Before that, each student must submit their project plan for approval to Project Director Diana Scharrer, including how they plan to allocate their time. 

Each senior also has a project advisor to share ideas and meet with during various open periods.

Students are expected to spend at least twelve hours a week dedicated to working on their project—a significant decrease from the previous 30-hour requirement. Seniors are still responsible for recording a journal entry each week.

This change notably impacts students in AP classes, who are allowed to detract work time hours. Each AP class will be worth four hours of project time per week. 

“Given the current health situation, I think the revisions to project are appropriate and considerate,” Scharrer said. “I know some 12th-graders are very disappointed not to be able to do their original projects, but they have all conveyed that they understand why these revisions had to be made.”

Miles Munkacy ‘20 was enrolled in three AP classes this year. 

“I’m glad the administration understands the stress and disappointment the seniors are experiencing right now, and have adjusted senior project accordingly,” Munkacy said.”I especially appreciate their rules concerning AP classes and senior project, which allow us to adequately study for our exams.”