Purposeful Innovation: Wondering, Questioning, and Creating Never Cease

senioritisWe have all been afflicted with it: Senioritis. 

Do you remember the sensations?

  • A debilitating loss of interest and urgency (mostly toward school).
  • Sheer revulsion at the very thought of school
  • A deep desire for liberation (especially from school, but parents sometimes make the cut too!)

Senioritis, notorious among high school and college seniors for generations, now even has its own hashtag: #senioritis. It’s amazing what you can find if you look hard enough. Already, with the calendar’s turn to 2016, present members of senior classes everywhere have a forum for sharing their plight with the world. Note: While the following statements may reflect the present mindset of some members of Parish’s class of 2016, these quotes are NOT from our precious graduates-to-be!:

  • Jan. 13, 2016: “figuring out the lowest grade you can get for the semester to still pass the class…” #senioritis
  • Jan. 14, 2016: “Giving up one class at a time” #senioritis
  • Jan. 14, 2016: “I’m surviving each week of school by thinking about the next weekend” #senioritis

As an educator, I’ve been fascinated – and candidly a bit hurt – by this phenomenon. After all, who wants to feel like the same students you’ve aspired to influence positively want nothing more than to be done with you? For many years, now, I’ve wondered if one day we educators might drive a stake through the heart of senioritis. But how?

Well, wonder leads to questions and questions lead to exciting new possibilities. Over this last decade, through our expansion and in the creation of our unique signature programs, Parish has used wonder and questioning to fuel our purposeful commitment to innovation.

So, wondering about senioritis, for example, begot questions such as these:

  • How might we make the last part of senior year one of the most exciting and meaningful periods of growth for students during their time at Parish?
  • How might the final weeks on campus energize students for their next life phase?

Over the last several years, a talented committee of Upper School faculty members pondered questions like these. Together, with input from colleagues and students, they have created Parish’s newest signature program, one which will launch this April with the class of 2016:

ParishBridgeRather than count down the days until graduation, seniors at Parish will now engage in five weeks of rich, personalized and meaningful experiences which prepare them not only for college but for the “complex global society” in which they will lead and serve.


Working around their AP schedule, students will create their own five-week Academic Coursework experience. Guided by a faculty mentor, students will develop an independent research project personalized to their area of interest. In the class of 2016, for example, approved projects include:

  • Analysis of 2015 stock market/prediction report for 2016
  • Case review on Texas family law/alimony
  • Effects of medicated/natural childbirth
  • Physics of golf swings
  • 1920’s writers of the Lost Generation

We recognize the pivotal role networking, internships and career-exploration will play in our students’ lives beyond Parish. ParishBridge will afford our seniors valuable exposure to these experiences. For their Professional Experience students will choose a career, service or creative domain of interest and have a 15-50 hour exposure over five weeks. Students will maintain a blog throughout the experience and share their insights with peers in May. Already, students have identified exciting opportunities such as:

  • Intern at ESPN NYC
  • Robot Entertainment (video game programming)
  • India to help open an orphanage
  • The Integer Group marketing agency
  • Bickle and Brewer law firm

Given that Lifelong Learning will be instrumental to their future success, and realizing that blended and online coursework will be a ubiquitous learning tool both personally and professionally, Parish seniors will take an online course of their choosing at some time before or during their senior year. Reflecting their personal interests, students in the class of 2016 have identified a rich array of courses including:

  • Brookhaven Online Jogging
  • Ashworth College medical assistant
  • AP Chemistry review (with Parish’s Mr. Abronowitz)
  • Texas Tech ISD Economics (HS credit)
  • EdX Basic Mandarin
  • Coursera Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Finally, there are Life Ready experiences we aspire for our graduates to have but have been unable to fit into our core or advisory programs. Therefore, we’ve designed it into ParishBridge. Seniors will return to campus during the five week ParishBridge program to participate in a series of seminars taught by experts in the field:

  • Financial Literacy
  • Leaving a Healthy Digital Footprint
  • Acing the Interview / Job Etiquette
  • Emotional Wellness and Resiliency
  • Alcohol, Drugs and Making Good Choices

Needless to say, we are eager for this latest example of Parish’s purposeful innovation to launch. We believe it will not only serve our seniors well, but will offer us lessons as our thinking continues for the broader vision for reimagining of our programs – Reimagine School.

Wish us luck. Our long awaited battle with senioritis is at hand!

1 thought on “Purposeful Innovation: Wondering, Questioning, and Creating Never Cease

  1. Pingback: Life Prep Not Just College Prep | From My Angle

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