Independent Project

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Sarah Fitzpatrick

How to Apply For Independent Project Week

Please download and complete the following application. Independent Project Week Proposal Form.docx.  Then Follow this link then click “Enroll in Course.”  In the course follow the directions in the course to submit the application. Applications are due by November 20th. Students should also sign up during the in regular project week sign-up in case their proposal is denied.

Independent Project Week


Students may do one independent project in middle school and one independent project in 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.

Students applying for an independent project must also submit a project week sign-up form listing five other options, in case their proposal is not approved.


The four defining characteristics of the school’s Project Week program are challenge, 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 projects 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.
  • Cannot be done or are 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.
  • 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 his or her comfort zone.
  • Are experiential, rather than academic, learning opportunities.
  • Culminate in a formal reflection that will be turned in for credit, being shared with an audience or real-world purpose whenever possible.

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 her 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 a reasonable person would see as being 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 senior project or in the summer

Final Credit

Even after approval, all students on independent projects must meet with the Independent Project Leader before and after their trip 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 coordinator must re-do the work or submit a new independent project proposal in order to receive credit for this graduation requirement.

Special Considerations
  • Students should sign up during the in regular project week sign-up as well as fill out their independent application in case their proposal is denied.
  • Independent college tours or family vacations are not approved.
  • Be very clear about the adult supervisor who will be involved in the project. They will be the person that the Project Week Director will contact. Independent group projects are not generally approved.
  • Since projects are expected to take the place of a full school day, your description/itinerarys should have an equivalent number of hours designated.
  • Completed proposals should reflect unique educational opportunities that may not be available at other times of the year.

Project Week Timeline (2019-20)

  • November 9 - Catalog Published
  • November 20 - Independent Proposals Due
  • November 10-20 - Student Selection Period
  • December 20 - Student Placement Published
  • January 24 (9:05 – 9:45 am) and March 13 (9-9:30 am) - Project Week Group Meetings
  • March 30 - April 3 - Project Week


Joey Pauley
Project Week Director
425-868-6191 x816