Independent Project


How to Apply For An Independent Project Week

Please download and complete the following application: Independent Project Week Proposal Form.docx. Then email Chrissy Wakeling at your completed application. Applications are due to Chrissy by Nov. 28th. Students should sign up for the independent project as their first choice during the regular project week sign-up. If students independent project is not approved by the Project Week Committee, they will need to work with Chrissy on finding a Project Week that can accommodate them. Students will hear from Chrissy if the IS was approved by December 9th. 

Independent Project Week


Students may do one independent project in middle school and one independent project in the upper school, but no student is guaranteed automatic approval for any project. Project approval is determined by the Project Week Committee. Proposals must be received by the due date in order to be considered.

Students cannot do an independent project during their first year of enrollment.


The four defining characteristics of the school’s Project Week program are challenging, experiential education, group process, and reflection.

In keeping with those goals, the committee approves independent Project Week proposals when they do most or all of the following:

  • The project must :

    • be student-driven and the application should be written by the student; others can assist with the logistics or itinerary 
    • provide unique opportunities for learning that would otherwise be missed
    • necessitate completion during Project Week (i.e. the project cannot be done or is not better done in some other time frame, such as spring break, senior project, or summer vacation)
    • have clear and substantive learning goals and objectives
    • have a clear daily itinerary where the bulk of each day will be spent in educational activities equivalent to 40 hours
    • provide opportunities to learn with experienced leaders, mentors, or practitioners (outside of family) of a particular skill, art, or practice
    • challenge a student outside of their comfort zone
    • be experiential, rather than academic, learning opportunities
    • culminate in a formal reflection that will be turned in for credit and shared with an audience or real-world purpose whenever possible
    • clearly identify the adult supervisor who will be involved in the project as they will be the person that the Project Week Director will contact

Examples of projects that the committee has approved include:

  • A 10-day hike through technical canyon terrain, led by a NOLS certified leader and involving specific outdoor education goals;
  • Intensive training as a yoga instructor in a formal program, where the student was also using winter break, spring break, and senior project to accumulate the hours necessary for instructor certification before their 18th birthday when fees would double.

There are many valuable activities that do not meet those criteria. For example, the committee does not approve projects that are primarily vacation, even though we acknowledge that these experiences can provide valuable family time or learning. Examples of projects the committee has not approved include:

  • Family projects, such as a scrapbooking or gardening project
  • Family vacation to Hawaii or Mexico, or skiing or biking trips with friends or family
  • Trips with grandparents to historical sites
  • Internships that could be done during the senior project or in the summer
  • College tour trips
  • Group Independent Project Week trips/experiences

Final Credit

Even after approval, all students on independent projects must meet with the Independent Project Leader before and after their Project in order to receive credit. All Independent Projects will require additional work (beyond the week itself) in order to receive credit. Examples of these final projects could be a journal, a presentation to peers, an article in the Overlake Independent, or a short film.

To be approved, all proposals must detail the specific work that will be completed in order to receive academic credit.

Students who do not complete final projects to the satisfaction of the Independent Project Leader must re-do the work or complete a make-up Project Week in order to receive credit for this graduation requirement.

Special Considerations

Participants must be willing to follow COVID guidelines.  Participants should only attend illness free. If a participant should test positive for COVID during the project, the student will be isolated, and the student’s family will be required to pick them up at their current location.  The family will bear all the costs associated with the student pick up. 

By selecting the above project, you and your family are accepting the financial responsibility for the cost of the projects.  This includes any unrecoverable expenses incurred if Overlake, or any federal, state or local government forces cancelation of the project, or if you or your family decide not to attend, or if your student becomes symptomatic and has to be isolated. 

Project Week (2022-23)

Mar 27, 2023 - Mar 31, 2023


Chrissy Wakeling
Assistant Director of Experiential Education