Capstone Senior Project Survives Pandemic School

Students embrace two-week program, Senior Seminar to explore personal interests


Betsy Fries

Jake Gearhart ‘21 watches senior speeches during advisory on the steps in the Carlson Commons near the science wing. Senior speeches and significant school events are often broadcast on this screen.

Brooke Lee & Jenna Thrasher, Contributing Writers

Each year, the senior project signals the end of the Upper School journey for all twelfth graders. The Project isn’t a code word for getting out two weeks earlier to bypass finals; rather, it is a time for seniors to create something meaningful. For students in the Class of 2021, programs range from construction projects, to testing the water quality of Minnesota’s many lakes, to internships.

Grace Griffin ’21, who will be researching the effect COVID-19 has had on the US’s justice system, is appreciative of the preparatory nature of senior programs. Griffin shares, “During our last few weeks as [students at] The Blake School, [senior programs] act as the perfect bridge from a pretty set curriculum to the independent nature of the real world after high school.” Similarly, Amanda Ward ’21 says, “I love how the program allows students to dabble in their interests in a safe setting before leaving our Blake bubble for college.”

By investigating a certain career or interest, students’ endeavors during their senior project can possibly grow into post-college plans.

Laila Elbakkal ’21 is using this time to test out a possible career choice. She says, “For the past year, I have been considering becoming a dentist and so I thought what better way to use this project than to actually shadow my dentist. I just thought it would be a really productive way to use this program.”

And beyond the immense educational benefits senior programs give to seniors, the social and traditional aspects of these projects are valued by many students as well. Payton Crosby ’21, who is going to be constructing a frame that can be mounted on a wall while supporting and maintaining plant life, attests, “This year I think senior programs are especially important because we have lost so many senior traditions and we didn’t have the normal milestones that past seniors have had. So being able to end with a traditional senior event is nice because it concludes our high school experience with some sense of normalcy.”