Town Crier

Last week, 190 seniors at Tewksbury Memorial High School gathered to display the results of more than six weeks of work at the school’s second annual Senior Project Expo. At least two-thirds of the senior class conceived of and participated in their own re­search projects spanning a wide range of topics. The Sen­ior Project initiative was in­tro­duced in the 2017-2018 school year as a way for gra­duating students to gain mean­ingful experience during their last weeks of high school while receiving credit for their work. Students had the opportunity to participate in an “externship,” a research project, a community service project, or to write a research paper. Each student had their project approved by a faculty committee, and was overseen by staff and site supervisors. “We want students to be am­bitious, because we want to approve big projects,” said assistant principal Sean O’Lea­ry. O’Lea­ry noted that several students have found summer employment or internships as a consequence of their projects.

This year’s projects were widespread and creative. One student interned in the Lowell courthouse clerk’s office, ap­pearing in court and assisting in filing documents, in anticipation of a criminal justice career. Another student wrote a four-part A Capella arrange­ment of an original “town song.” Senior Jess Caredeo did a community service project at the Tewksbury Food Pan­try, collecting 1,048 food items from local businesses and schools and sorting them at the pantry. “I learned social skills, and how to advocate for myself,” she said. “It was a positive experience. It felt good donating and putting time into the community.” A student looking toward a ca­reer as a veterinarian worked at a horse barn, and another student learned about small business ownership from in­terning at a tuxedo shop. Sen­ior Jon Cabral was an English Language Learner tutor for a first grader and a ninth grader who speak Portuguese. A pair of students drove across eastern Massachusetts to twen­ty pizzerias, grading each piz­za on a rubric they wrote. Two students went vegan for six weeks and wrote about their experiences. Others created a cooking show, wrote movie reviews, and painted murals depicting various as­pects of the TMHS experience. A popular project was working in classrooms at the lower elementary schools. A student who recently transferred to the district was in­spired by his experience of struggling to find his way at a new school to create a virtual tour of different schools in town for other new students to use, stitching together photos to make a Google Earth-esque model of important areas in Tewksbury schools.

“Every year I am totally amazed by what the seniors did and what experiences they’ve had,” remarked assis­tant principal Dr. Eileen Os­borne. “In every presentation, I’ve learn­ed something new. It gives students a way to use skills they have learned in Tewksbury Public Schools in a way that is authentic and meaningful.”

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