2018 Independent Senior Projects Show the Severn School Mission in Action
Guest post written by graduating seniors Josie Formica '18 and Ashley Clifford '18
For our independent senior project, we visited four of our peer’s projects in the local area. The projects we chose embodied each of Severn’s core values: leadership, character, scholarship, and service. We hope to give a glimpse into the ISP program and to show you a wide range of qualities that represent the interests of not only our entire class but our community as a whole.
Rana Yavuz ’18 took on the daunting task of fixing a prominent danger in the Severn community: the Evergreen-Holly intersection. “I got into an accident on September 5th,” she says, “It was Severn’s fifth accident in two months.”
Rana’s independent senior project truly embodies the aspect of leadership. She formed proposals, contacted the proper authoritative figures, and decided how to best present her argument. She collected data from the Anne Arundel County Police Station as evidence, and, after numerous calls and email exchanges, scheduled a meeting with representatives from Anne Arundel County Traffic. Acquiring skills non-attainable in the classroom, Rana has learned the power of her own voice in our community, amidst an intimidating professional world.
Practically, Rana knows that traffic lights and even a four-way stop aren’t within her reach. Yet, hoping to break through the strictness of rules and create a compromise, she challenges the community as a whole to think about the children, new drivers, families, and pedestrians that are at risk to the fogged visibility of the intersection.
“Both our upper and lower school campuses are perched on very dangerous intersections,” she says, “It makes one think why they’re still persistent on keeping up a tree, or not putting up a mirror or cross guard.” While the change may be small, Rana has paved way for much more to come. We look forward to hearing the outcome of the visibility survey in the near future.
“JIMMY!!” The children screamed each morning as he entered the classroom. His daily greeting into the fourth-grade world began how he merrily spent three weeks for his independent senior project. Shadowing lower school teacher Mrs. Karen Bennett, Jimmy Riley '18 learned the ropes of what it takes to be an elementary level educator. Working alongside Mrs. Bennett is a better way of phrasing “shadowing” because Jimmy was really thrown into the mix. From answering math questions, to grading papers, and playing with the students at recess, Jimmy embodied the fourth-grade life from a new perspective.
"This was a very valuable experience for him,” Mrs. Bennett says, “I think having an appreciation for education even at the younger level is important. The last time you all spent any time in the classroom, you were in fourth grade yourselves.” This new perspective allowed Jimmy to flourish as the students’ second “grownup” in the classroom, providing immediate attention and facilitating their learning.
On one of his last days, Jimmy gave a presentation to the class about changing the way you look at something. His hope was to bring out the thinking aspect of learning, rather than simply regurgitation. In his presentation, he was called on each student by name, and it was clear to us, that he had created a bond with each and every one of them. He also voluntarily attended the fourth grade musical Madagascar Jr., and thoroughly learned the composition of their daily schedule, including the specials and Renaissance programs.
Although teaching is not in his plans for the future, Jimmy fully engaged himself in the opportunity and absorbed a sense of community.
Shreeya Bahethi '18, a long–time horse rider, worked at her local barn in Davidsonville, MD. Her barn is one of a few in partnership with an organization called GAIT: Gaited Advocates Intervention Team. The goal of GAIT is to rescue gated horses whose lives were at risk. At barns like Shreeya’s, the trainers work closely with rescued horses and help them overcome their previous trauma to later be well trained and adopted.
Gaited horses can not only walk, trot, canter, and gallop; they can also pace and rack, for example. Usually, the number of movements a horse can perform is hereditary, but sometimes they can be taught.
“I thought that once you learn how to rehab, then you know how to work with all horses. But really, it’s dependent on each horse. With very skittish, previously traumatized horses, it takes a lot of time, effort, and consistency.”
In addition to helping horses through GAIT, Shreeya also teaches occasional horseback riding lessons to young kids.
“It’s such a great learning experience especially for younger kids and even people my age. I’m usually a bit more scared and reserved, but when you’re riding, especially with rescues, you just have to be very confident. You have to be firm because they rely on the rider and need to trust you.”
Shreeya’s service helps horses live to their full potential and educates the surrounding community about the value of engaging yourself in the life of horses.
Nathan Roche ’18 interned at Arnold Packaging through a connection with Arnold Packaging President, Severn School alum, and current parent Mick Arnold '89. Mr. Arnold sat on a tech panel at Severn in the fall of 2017 to demonstrate how his company's use of robotics streamlines the supply chain in his industry. During the program, Nathan combined learning about engineering and robotics with business organization and sales. He shared some of what he learned during his weeks at the company.
About the ISP Program
The authors of this article, Ashley Clifford '18 and Josie Formica '18, both interned at local media outlets for the first two weeks of their ISP programs. They then applied what they learned and wrote this article for the Severn School Communications Office. They completed this article entirely on their own, from interviewing students to gathering photos and video footage, during the span of just one week. Our Communications Team gave them a set of guidelines to follow, some interview and writing tips, and sent them off running. Their professionalism and commitment to the project — in the face of a short deadline — speaks to what they've learned during their time here at Severn.
Severn’s Independent Senior Project (ISP) is a two-week, hands-on learning experience where senior students have the opportunity to engage in a trade, craft, industry, or art alongside a working professional. This year’s far-ranging ISP topics included finance, entrepreneurship, culinary arts, fashion, public safety, photography, marketing, environmental advocacy, and more. It's an opportunity for our graduating seniors to dip a toe into the working world beyond Severn and explore interests, make a meaningful contribution to the community, or even create a piece of art or writing they might not otherwise have time for. Through this program, our seniors gain a deeper appreciation of their own talents, the importance of service, and the value of mentorship in the professional world.
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