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High school seniors, like myself and fellow members of the class of 2010, in the Vail School District, take an extra step forward in our path to graduation through the utilization of an innovative program known as Senior Exit Project, or SEP. SEP is a comprehensive project consisting of three overarching components — 25 hours of shadowing a chosen mentor in our field of interest, a detailed research paper that treats a topic specific to each student’s career field and an electronic presentation of our Senior Exit Project journey to a small group of community members.
Senior Exit Project is an extremely extensive and thorough process, taking months from start to finish. It is work-intensive and strenuous, to say the least, but a highly valuable learning experience for all of us who are lucky enough to participate in it. The opportunity to shadow a professional in a career that we are interested in pursuing is absolutely invaluable. Shadowing gives us a concrete understanding as to what exactly that career constitutes on a day to day basis; infinitely more so than just reading about it. The intention behind the job shadowing aspect of the project was to give us a taste of the profession, allowing us to consider whether or not we can envision ourselves as a member of that vocation in the future.
There are many people who find that their shadowing experiences confirm pre-existing ideas about their career of interest. Empire senior Christian Nieto states, “Shadowing has been a very rewarding experience. It’s helping me decide whether or not I’d like to pursue a career in architecture, and I’m getting valuable experience in that field, if I decide that I do want to pursue it.” Another senior, Elizabeth Toller, also confirms, “My time spent shadowing a scientist at the University of Arizona’s labs completely confirmed that I would like to pursue that as a career.”
The laptops that we are given at the beginning of our freshman year provide an extremely beneficial tool for the execution of Senior Exit Project. At the end of the project, we will use them to craft and present an extensive multimedia presentation regarding our shadowing, among other things. Creativity, originality, a sophisticated look and excellent presentation skills are required for this crucial aspect of the project, and it serves as not only a culmination of all the work in PowerPoint, Keynote, and other digital media outlets that we have worked with for the past four years, but also as a useful preparation for what we will have to do regarding digital media presentations in college.
A lot of people are unmotivated to do the Senior Exit Project because it involves so much effort, but there are some who appreciate it. I personally feel that, yes, it is going to be work-intensive, but it’s ultimately worth it. I’ve had years of practice with making good presentations in almost all of the classes, so I feel well prepared to handle Senior Exit Project.
Senior Exit Project presentations come at the very end of the year. I won’t say that I’m actually excited and looking forward to it, but I’m not dreading it either. As a senior, I have so much to anticipate until then. There are incredibly fun high school experiences that I will experience for the last time, such as homecoming, football games, winter formal and prom. There are a lot of academic milestones to face as well, including SATs, ACTs and AP tests. Senior Exit Project will be the final act of our senior year — the last significant event we face before graduation, and it is the last and most effective high school activity that will prepare us for the real world.
Empire High School
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