Senior Projects

Overview

The Senior Project provides an opportunity for the kind of experiential learning that is so valuable to the total Overlake School experience. For three weeks during the month of May, seniors are involved in an off-campus field of study/experience. This independent project is intended to add depth to the students' senior year; it is a challenging, self-directed, and self-disciplined enterprise that allows students to make decisions and be responsible representatives of The Overlake School in the wider community. Projects are conceived and researched by students themselves and can cover a wide range of fields including academic research, teaching, technology, community service, communications, business, outdoor education, art, politics, and the environment. Students gain most from this experience when they select an area in which they have a strong interest. For this reason, there is flexibility regarding student choices as long as they are meeting the basic project requirements.

Once a student identifies this area of interest, she/he is responsible for contacting a likely organization, researching the possibilities for an internship, and procuring a position. The student initially writes a proposal which serves as an application for approval of the project. This proposal states the details of the project, its goals and how they are to be achieved, and describes the supervision that will be available during the project. The proposal is then submitted for approval to the Senior Projects Coordinator and the senior's advisor.

It is the responsibility of the student to follow through on the requirements. Each senior spends six hours per day at the chosen site and communicates weekly with both the homeroom advisor and the coordinator. The culmination of the project comes in the form of a formal oral presentation of the experience to parents, family members, faculty, and students at the end of the school year.

Parent FAQ

What is the role of parents in the Senior Project?

Parents play a limited supporting role in the projects. They will, of course, be invited to attend the Student Project presentations. However, it is essential that the Senior Project entirely be conceived, designed, and executed by the seniors themselves. We do not encourage parents to intervene in the process. We do not endorse projects in which students work for or with parents because it does not create an ideal growth opportunity for seniors. Most of the communications about the projects will be going directly to the students through the school Canvas system, much as we communicate information for classes.

Many Overlake parents have accepted students to their organizations in the past and I would very much like to hear from any members of the community who would be willing to take a student for a mini-internship. I can then match student interests with positions available. The most difficult part of the process for students is often finding an organization that they can join and so I would certainly like to hear from any of you that offer an opportunity to one or more of our students.

When will seniors be presented with the guidelines for the Projects?

On February 4 we begin the process with a mandatory meeting for all seniors held during a community time period. Seniors will already have read a great deal of information about the projects that I have sent them through Canvas.  I will then be sending them emails and will post further information for them on Canvas as we go step-by-step through the preparation process.

What are the deadlines for the Projects?

All deadlines for the projects will be noted in Canvas. There will be deadlines for the initial conception of the project, for the proposal draft, for the final proposal, etc. Students are expected to meet each deadline in a satisfactory manner. This planning process is a measure of the degree to which they have mastered effective organizational skills.  

Senior athletes going to State may need to begin their project early if participation in athletics will cause them to miss Senior Project days, or they can add the necessary hours during the 3 week period. Likewise if they have an AP exam, which may happen during the first week, they are excused their projects for that morning and can then make up the time.

What are the dates for Senior Project Presentations?

Traditionally, presentations are scheduled on Final Exam days for Grades 9-11. This year's dates will be posted at the bottom of this page.  Students will also give a practice in front of administrators and faculty members so that we can give feedback and ensure that they can present successfully to parents and the wider Overlake Community on the following days. Parents are encouraged to be present for their senior’s final presentation. 

How important is the Senior Project?

Seniors must complete the Senior Project in order to graduate. This requires that the students take part in a project during the assigned days and for the amount of time stated above. There is a degree of flexibility allowed over the exact number of hours per day but the total should be equivalent to the 6 hour per day guideline over three weeks. During the practice presentation, all students will receive feedback on their presentations. If it is thought the presentation has not reached the expected standard then the student may be asked to make some changes and take part in a second practice prior to the final presentation in front of the larger audience. Parents and students should not be alarmed if a second practice is required. We want to ensure that your senior does his or her best work and meets the Senior Project requirements. The final presentation is more of a celebration of what has been experienced than a pass/fail situation.

Senior Projects Timeline 2018

  • Student Orientation Meeting | Early Feb
  • Project | May 14 - Jun 1
  • Practice Presentation | Jun 4
  • Presentations | Jun 5-7

Contact

Dave Parsons
Senior Projects Coordinator

dparsons@overlake.org
425-868-6191 x608