A major goal of The New School is to help young people identify their passions and gain the confidence to actualize them before and after high school. Students are encouraged to weave their interests into their coursework throughout their time at the school — and this is particularly true during senior year. Senior Projects are a significant undertaking that students must complete in order to graduate. With ongoing guidance from their Faculty Advisors and roundtable committees of students, faculty and parents, seniors design projects that engage their talents and interests while challenging them to grow in new ways. Students must show in the final presentation to their committees that they have contributed at least 200 hours of work to the project, and have fulfilled the State of Maine’s five Guiding Principles Standards for education. Here are summaries of several Senior Projects that are currently underway by this year’s graduates:

Will discovered a love of photography during his freshman year at TNS through Michael Wilson’s photography class. He has been studying photography with various teachers since then, and is grateful that TNS enabled him to continually build skills by using photography in various ways throughout his studies. For his Senior Project Will is creating a website to help him launch and market his photography business. Will has been keeping a journal to reflect on the challenges of creating the website and gaining the confidence to “put himself out there” in a competitive field. Michael Wilson has continued to be an invaluable mentor to Will, both in terms of photography technique as well as on the marketing and business sides. In addition to building the website Will is creating a portfolio of his photographs to present to the roundtable committee.

Alivia has been immersed in her work with toddlers and the study of early childhood development at the 10 Acre Wood Daycare in Limerick, where she has been interning for the past two years. Alivia has also been taking online courses to learn more about developing appropriate learning environments for children, responding to challenging infant and toddler behavior and support for children with different developmental and functional needs. She has had so much fun learning and playing with all of the children and hopes to continue to learn more and to use the skills she has picked up in future jobs.  As part of her Senior Project Alivia is writing a research paper on the importance of Head Start and the benefits that it provides children living at or below the poverty line.

Avery traveled to Hindman, Kentucky to learn how to craft a fretted  dulcimer with Doug Naselroad, Master Artist-In-Residence at the Appalachian Luthiery. The fretted dulcimer resembles an elongated violin with a limited number of strings (usually three to five) that can be plucked or bowed. In the U.S., the fretted dulcimer is better known as the Appalachian or Mountain dulcimer. Its strings are plucked with the fingers, a pick, or a quill, and the player’s left hand holds a stick or plectrum on the strings as a stop.

Avery spent 5, ten hour days cutting the pieces of walnut for the body, shaping the sides by soaking the wood and using a hot bending iron, cutting out the sound holes (Avery chose heart shaped holes), shaping the fingerboard, adding tuners, nuts and frets, and finishing with the strings. The results are shown in the photo above. Avery will be recording an album of her own songs using the dulcimer, mandolin, ukulele and guitar for her Senior Project.

Allie has had a passion for horses since she was a child. Her Senior Project will focus on her experiences as an intern at both Carlisle Academy and LaDawn Quarter Horse Therapy Barn, which offer Equine Therapy programs that changes the lives of people with disabilities. Both organizations have helped hundreds of patients better cope with their emotions and relationships and improve their coordination, balance, and strength. Allie has excelled in her internships, working with young people with disabilities. She intends to become a therapeutic riding instructor.

Toby is collaborating on a comic book called “Anxiety.” The book will include artwork by a number of her friends and peers who experience anxiety in many forms, be it generalized anxiety, ptsd, ocd, or coulrophobia (a fear of clowns). The comics portray how anxiety manifests itself in each artist and express how they deal with it.