Seniors’ last stretch: The Senior Project

As WHS seniors near the end of their high school journeys, each student is required to embark on an independent final project that challenges and showcases a new skill in a unique and meaningful way to leave an impact on he Westfield community. Taking up a majority of the fourth marking period in English class, the anticipated Senior Project is officially in the works.

Seniors choose their topics based on something that fascinates them and something they want to learn more about. In addition to this criteria, they must have little to no prior knowledge of the topic. While each English teacher has varying requirements, the culminating project is a tangible product that is presented to the class.

The Senior Project began over 40 years ago, as a way to fuel the growth and autonomy of the graduating class and to maintain student engagement,” said English Teacher Kimberly Gosen-Fowler. “We might even call it a potential antidote to senioritis.

The Senior Project prepares all students with lifelong skills such as selfadvocacy and determination as they head off to their future endeavors after high school.

According to Westfield English Superviser Elizabeth Reilly, “The Senior Project provides students a learning experience where self-management, independent work skills and effective oral and written communication skills foster lifelong learning.”

Along with the communication skills stimulated by the presentation, some students are required to complete a paper to improve their writing skills as well.

The requirements vary, but some students have the option to create a personal narrative, a poetry collection, a research paper or another written supplement. The paper must explore a different aspect of the topic from what was presented to the class. For example, if the project is learning how to paint different kinds of art styles, the paper could be about the physical and mental health benefits of painting.

As students delve into their project papers, it is important to remember that the goal is not simply to regurgitate information, but to show a true understanding and passion for the topic. “What resonates most with me are the projects that truly demonstrate immersion in the topic,” said Fowler.

One student who has fulfilled this expectation is WHS senior Sutton Factor. Factor’s project is a documentary about the viewership differences between the NBA and WNBA and the marketing plans for the WNBA to fix this issue.

Factor, a basketball player herself, had personal interest in the topic and is learning new film and cinematography skills through her project.

“It’s a big concept which is challenging, and I have to meet with the marketing chief of the WNBA to complete it,” said Factor. But despite the challenges of Factor’s intricate project, her love and passion for the sport while pursuing her interest in business is what makes it stand out.

Another interesting project comes from WHS senior Patrick Lanza. Lanza takes Global Citizen, a double period combining both History and English, so his requirements differ from the regular ELA classes.

According to Lanza, the class projects consist of a presentation on how institutions shape public opinion in addition to community outreach.

For his project, Lanza is arguing that the government uses fear-mongering to scare people away from AI when they should be using it to their benefit. He is also addressing how AI can be incorporated into the Westfield curriculum.

“I really like the project,” said Lanza. “It allows you to do research on something you are interested in.”

As the class of 2023 finalizes their Senior Projects, WHS looks forward to seeing the work the seniors produce as a capstone on their high school education and the lasting impact it will have on their community.