In the eighth-grade year, every Arbor student launches a year-long Senior Project to explore a personal passion or area of curiosity. Whether glassblowing or sustainable building design, fundraising for a school in SE Asia or building a guitar, every project is held to rigorous standards. Each eighth grader proposes a project, articulating the overarching idea, a written component and a creative element, a representation of the project’s physical aspects, and a format for the process journal to be kept throughout the project. Once the plan is approved by the Senior teachers and the Director, the student seeks a mentor—someone who is both outside the faculty and outside the family—who will serve as the expert consultant and technical support for the project. We ask that the bulk of the project work be done outside regular school hours.
The completion of these projects is a matter of much celebration and each member of the graduating class has several opportunities to share his work with students, faculty members, parents, and family members. The assembled work is housed in a special section of our Library, where Senior Project archives serve as inspiration and instruction for younger students. And each year the members of the graduating class are invited back to Arbor for a presentation of their accumulated wisdom about the pursuit of the Senior Project to the new eighth-grade class.
Our students have accomplished extraordinary work in the course of now 22 years of Senior Projects. The lessons learned range far and wide, but all students discover how much they are truly capable of achieving when given scope, encouragement, and the helping hand of a professional who was once a young aspirant in the field. The Senior Project is designed to serve as a model for happiness, for a job well done: planned carefully, executed in a timely way, and presented with authority and delight.