Saturday, April 20, 2013

What My Students Did: Academic Platypus

So, I'm already proud of my little band of 9th through 12th graders that managed to put on Sophocles' Antigone at the beginning of this month.  Putting on a Greek Tragedy with a working Chorus is no small deed.  For the seniors, however, an even greater challenge was just around the corner.  This week concluded our school's annual senior thesis presentations.

All seniors at the school where I teach are required to present a senior thesis as part of their graduation requirements.  The senior thesis is composed of an 18-24 page written draft on a topic of their choosing and a 10-13 page oral draft which is memorized, presented to the community, and defended before a panel made up of a teacher, the headmaster, a member or two of the local clergy, and a board member or outside expert (the panel is civil and polite, but they ask real questions -it isn't just for show).  It's a daunting task.  Most students in the United States will not experience this sort of thing unless they go for an advanced degree.

What particularly impressed me this year was the uniform level of performance of the students.  We had highs, but we didn't have lows.  Every student rose to the occasion and strove through to end with self-possession and determination.  Students like this, whatever they choose to do, are going to find themselves becoming leaders -even when they choose to follow.

I don't know where these seniors will end up or what they will do with their lives over the next decade, but I do know that I am proud of them.

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