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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Class of 2017 Finishes Strong

As is tradition, senior graduation presentations are in full swing for the final month of school. Previous graduating classes presented their research paper on a controversial issue to the class for ten minutes and fielded questions about their topic. Last year with their English 12 classes, David Brown and Lisa Silverman piloted a new format that included student reflections about their personal and academic achievements in high school as well as envisioning future goals. Students also created a resume and distributed it to the class on their presentation day.

“We wanted to make it more like an exit interview,” explained Silverman. “Taking these final steps into adulthood is a huge undertaking for some of these kids. It’s important for them to reflect on the process of growing up, setting goals, and moving forward. The previous presentation format limited their reflections to one research paper—one academic accomplishment; we wanted to expand that reflection process to include the entire high school experience.”

Members of the Class of 2017

This year, Tom Maloney and Lisa Silverman have expanded the pilot group to include all senior English classes, and special education teachers have adapted the presentation format for many of their students. Maloney, in his first year of teaching seniors, enjoyed creating “an opportunity for students to showcase their learning, experiences, and reflect on their growth."

Maloney and Silverman also reached out to economics teachers Rhonda Green and Rob Rodrigues to assist students in developing a personal budget consistent with their career goals for the presentation. The budget assignment is a useful exercise for students to explore adult financial responsibilities by choosing housing and transportation that is consistent with the salary they expect to receive. Green and Rodrigues emphasized the practical: the debts associated with paying back school loans or affording car insurance; the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a used car or renting an apartment; and the importance of saving for the future.

Initially, senior Saeed Holt was nervous to present in front of his peers, but he performed far better than he expected. Holt’s advice to future presenters is simple: “Don’t believe the hype. Just buckle down, be yourself, and you’ll do fine.”

Rebecca Renner added, “After I was done, there was a huge weight lifted off of me. I can just look forward to graduation now.”

Students can invite guests to attend their presentations, including family members or friends in other classes. As a senior audience member, Addie Macioce enjoyed watching her peers present. “It’s so nice to see everybody’s presentation and reminisce about our past together.”

Although the presentations have triggered nervous jitters for many seniors, they have undoubtedly produced lots of tears, laughter, and love.