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The senior project is a long-treasured tradition at Milton—an opportunity for Class I students to spend the month before Graduation focusing on one topic before presenting their work.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic changed many seniors’ plans for projects, but members of the Class of 2020 still found creative ways to use their time, either by pursuing their projects safely, altering their projects, staying in their regular classes, or dedicating their month to serving the Milton community. In lieu of the senior project fair that traditionally caps off the seniors’ May work, projects were compiled on a website. 

“We wanted the students to choose something that would keep them connected and engaged with Milton,” said Jackie Bonenfant, dean of teaching and learning. “We want them to do something that has value and meaning to them.”

New this year are the opportunities students had to work with various Milton offices, including Admission and the Office of Multiculturalism and Community Development, on initiatives such as new student orientation. Seniors could also work with Upper School administrators to plan and coordinate year-end events, including Graduation, so the class would have some input into the celebrations.

This year’s project line-up includes virtual musical performances, art portfolios, volunteering to distribute face masks in Hong Kong, learning new recipes, creating a cultural map of Boston, learning new computer programming skills, writing a fantasy novella, and making clothing, among others.

Five students, Alli Reilly, Bri Lewis, Ira Sobchyshyna, Kendelle Grubbs, and Stefan Aleksic, partnered with the Office of Multiculturalism and Community Development on a senior project that focused on fundamental listening and empathy skills and their importance to intercultural dialogue. They developed a flexible curriculum adapted for the School’s work in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For some students, like Rory Hallowell, the pandemic made little difference on plans for the project. Hallowell, an avid conservationist, did an internship at the Chocorua Lake Conservancy in Tamworth, New Hampshire. He spent the month shadowing the land trust’s stewardship director and working on everything from maintenance to culling invasive plants to water-quality testing. In the process, he has learned about edible plants and the rich history of the Mount Chocorua region; he also made a presentation to the Explorers Club about his work. 

“My favorite part of this internship has been getting outdoors and getting dirty,” said Hallowell. “The coronavirus has definitely put a damper on the fun of the work—manual labor is hard enough without wearing a mask—but it has not ruined my senior project at all.”

Senior projects will be presented to the Milton community this week. Instead of an in-person project fair or performances, seniors are creating videos to show their work, Bonenfant said.