Senior Project is a foundational and formational element of the student experience at St. Louis University High School.
In January, when the rest of the school begins the second semester by going back to the classroom, seniors extend their classroom to include the St. Louis metropolitan area. For the month of January, every SLUH senior puts their education and talents to the test, serving others in one of over 80 approved agencies or schools. While in the midst of serving others, the senior learns and grows in his own self-understanding as a powerful, yet finite, part of God's creation. It is the school's belief that this month-long experience of full-time volunteer work is so important to the development of its students that the satisfactory completion of Senior Project is a requirement for graduation.
In addition, SLUH has a special relationship with a nutrition center in Yoro, Honduras. Each January, a group of students completes their Senior Project at this nutrition center. Applications for this unique Senior Project are due in the spring of a student's junior year. Contact Mr. Charley Merriott for details about this particular opportunity.
Senior Project Coordinator: Mr. Nick Ehlman (email@example.com).
Site Selection Process
1. RESEARCH POSSIBLE SITES
Site research can be done via the x2Vol portal. x2Vol is a service of Naviance, and so students need to know their Naviance log-in information.
- After you log in, click the blue x2Vol link, located on the left sidebar.
- Then, click the green "Find Opportunities" button. You will be able to view and search for all of the 80 approved Senior Project sites available to you.
- Each of the 80 possible sites is preceded by "Senior Project" and followed by one of seven categories: Education, Elderly, Emotionally Disabled Youth, Hearing & Visually Impaired, Mental/Behavior Disabled, Physical Handicap, or Poor.
- For ideas, discuss Senior Project opportunities with your parents, older siblings, other family members, etc.
- If you see a project that interests you, click "View Event Details" to see further information on the site and its expectations, view the daily hours, and read reviews from students who have completed their Senior Project at that site in the past.
Students should not hone in on a site based merely on convenience or comfort. To truly enter into the spirit of Senior Project, seniors should research sites that challenge them the most. All sites are vetted by Campus Ministry to be people-centered. At each, you will work with a population who is, in one way or another, in need. Please take seriously the responsibility to research possible Senior Project sites.
2. TALK WITH YOUR FACULTY ADVISOR (Deadline: Friday, September 30)
Each senior is assigned to work with a Faculty Advisor throughout Senior Project. Immediately after the September 26 meeting, seniors should take the initiative to contact their assigned Faculty Advisor to schedule a time to meet. At this meeting, seniors should discuss the goals of Senior Project and which sites may best fit those goals. Seniors should not contact or sign up for any agency before meeting with their Faculty Advisor. Faculty Advisors will not contact seniors to set up this meeting; it should be the other way around.
3. SCHEDULE A VISIT (Deadline: Wednesday, October 5)
For sites students are interested in, carefully read their information on x2Vol. Seniors will be asked to either sign up for a group meeting that’s already scheduled, or call or email the site supervisor to set up a time to visit. If asked to call or email a site, seniors should always be professional and respectful. Whether by email or on the phone, seniors should introduce themselves, explain who they are and what they are hoping for, and in the case of a phone call, leave a callback number for the supervisor to return the message. Those asked to call will probably have to leave a voicemail. Students should not badger any supervisor if they don't immediately return a call or email.
If your initial communication with the site makes you want to visit the site to learn more, make an appointment to visit the agency. Students are not allowed to miss school to go on a site visit. Consult the Senior Project Calendar for days when site visits can be arranged. If you are not interested in pursuing a visit, thank the person you talked with for their time.
Furthermore, seniors should keep in mind that they are representing SLUH and should be respectful in all their communication. Many of these sites are agencies we’ve worked with for a number of years and with whom we have a great relationship. Others are new to us, and we want to develop that great relationship. When you visit the agency, arrive promptly and dress in school attire. Ask for a copy of any rules or regulations the agency has. If you are unable to keep an appointment, be certain to contact them to reschedule.After meeting with your faculty advisor, phone the agency and discuss the work with the contact person: get a good description of your work and agency expectations.
4. GET YOUR PROPOSAL FORM SIGNED
After you have visited a site and decide it's the one you want for your Senior Project, you need to complete your proposal form and get four signatures : you, a parent, your Faculty Advisor, and your Site Supervisor. Be sure to bring this form with you when you go to visit your site.
If you lose the proposal form you received at the September 26 informational meeting, you can download another copy of the proposal form here.
You should work in an unfamiliar environment with people outside your daily life.
- You should look for work different than service work you may have done before.
- You should not choose a project merely as an opportunity to do career-sampling.
- You should not choose a project solely based on its proximity to your home.
Considerations during Senior Project
Seniors are expected to work throughout the month of January in a five-day-a-week, full-time volunteer schedule. It is the senior's responsibility to arrange his project schedule with his other obligations, such as job, athletics, rehearsals, meetings, etc. It is the senior's responsibility to arrange his own transportation to and from his project.
DAILY ATTENDANCE AT SENIOR PROJECT:
- Your site will have an attendance sheet for seniors to sign in each day. If you get to your site and it does not have one, contact Campus Ministry ASAP.
- If you are absent due to sickness, you must call both your site and SLUH. You’ll be expected to make up any such absences on weekends or on future days off.
- College visits or routine medical appointments should not be made during Senior Project and are considered unexcused absences. You must make up two days for each one unexcused absence.
- Family vacations are not to be taken during Senior Project.
- If you are going on the Kairos retreat, Manresa retreat, or the March for Life, those absences are excused and will not have to be made up. You may attend only one of the above three options as an excused Senior Project absence.
- Snow Day Procedure:
- If SLUH calls off school due to inclement weather, you should not go to your site. Once SLUH has called off school, contact your site to let them know you won’t be coming in. This isn't an absence you will have to make up.
- If your project site has cancelled or closed, but SLUH still has school, you should follow the schedule of your project site.
SENIOR PROJECT JOURNAL:
- You received you Senior Project Journal at a class meeting in early December.
- You should write in your journal at the conclusion of every day! As well as this being a priceless artifact for you to keep, you will need it when you return to your Theology class.
- Seniors are seen both as representatives of the SLUH community as well as of the agency where you are working. It’s your duty to act in a professional manner at all times while volunteering. Please maintain a professional relationship with all clients at all times.
- Cell phones: you are not to be on your cell phone at any time, unless you are on a break and have permission from your supervisor. We sometimes hear from supervisors about students who are on their phone when they shouldn't be. When we hear about violations, you will be punished with future JUGs, just like you would be at school.
- Dress Code: Unless your supervisor states otherwise, you should be in SLUH dress code.
- As a volunteer, it is your duty to maintain professional boundaries with the clients served by the agencies. You may not exchange phone numbers, addresses or other contact information. Under no circumstances should you be alone with client/resident. The agencies do not permit contact with their clients outside the scope of your volunteer duties/hours unless your supervisor has granted permission. If you have any questions about physical interaction with students, residents, clients, etc., please ask your supervisor what types of interactions are appropriate.
- Should a client come to you with problems other than those related to your volunteer duties, please contact your volunteer supervisor before attempting to solve the problem. Many times, the staff is already working with clients on these issues and your involvement may actually inhibit a speedy resolution.
- You, as volunteers, need also to keep appropriate boundaries among the staff with whom you work. The staff members are not your friends – they are supervisors and this relationship has boundaries similar to a teacher/student relationship. Remember to keep all communication with staff on a professional level.
- Gifts made directly to clients may have unforeseen consequences. If you would like to give a gift or make a donation, please contact your supervisor to discuss the situation and see what is appropriate.
- No volunteer should ever transport a client without prior approval from your supervisor.
- No one shall contact the media on his or her own or respond to a media inquiry without first having cleared the activity through your supervisor. It is important that information be accurate and that all responsible individuals are aware of any situation.
- While we are very eager to have pictures of you with the clients of your agency (especially for our slideshow when you return), BE SURE to get permission from your supervisor before taking photos.
- Send any pictures you may have to Campus Ministry, and we will forward them to the senior in charge of creating the slideshow for the Senior Project Return Ceremony.
WHAT TO DO AFTER SENIOR PROJECT IS OVER
Your final day at your project site is Thursday, January 26. Prepare to say what is likely to be a difficult goodbye!
On Friday, January 27, seniors will return to SLUH for a full day of classes. On that day, seniors should first report to their homeroom to pick up their new schedule. Senior Advisors will go to their second semester, senior homeroom. After picking up schedules, seniors should go to the Chapel for a prayer service. Further instructions and details for what is expected of all seniors on Monday will be given during this prayer service.
On Monday, January 30, the entire school community will come together in the Si Commons to welcome the seniors back. After some remarks and a slideshow from the Senior Project sites, all students will break into classrooms to hear individual testimonies from groups of 5-6 seniors. Underclassmen will also have the opportunity to share thoughts or questions with the seniors in this forum. For this day, all seniors are to have prepared a typed, printed, 3-5 minute reflection. Seniors should practice reading this reflection aloud ahead of time and will turn it in on Monday. In addition to being a necessary component of Senior Project, it will count toward a senior's second semester theology grade. Here are some questions seniors are to consider as they write their reflection. Keep in mind, stories from project are good to share.
- What site were you at, and why did you pick it?
- Who was one person that really impacted you at Senior Project and why? (Remember to not use actual names)
- What was the biggest challenge you faced at Senior Project and how did you deal with it?
- Where did you see or feel God's presence on Senior Project?
- What will you take away from Senior Project? How did Senior Project affect you?
Monday, January 30 is also the day by which seniors should complete their online site evaluation. Future seniors will use these site evaluations to help them pick their Senior Project site. Included in this site evaluation should be seniors' project reflection that they shared with their small group classroom. Here is the link to access the online evaluation. Once you log-in, click on "survey,"
Wednesday, February 22. By this day, seniors are due to have met with their faculty advisor for a final conversation. Included in this conversation will be discussion of the senior's site evaluation and a review of the site's evaluation of the senior. This is the final step of Senior Project. Only upon the successful completion of this conversation will faculty members sign off on a student's completion of his Senior Project.
If a senior was absent from any days of Senior Project (for reasons other than attending a retreat), he is to make them up. Any one unexcused absence is made up over two days. As seniors schedule and confirm make up days, seniors should report them to Mrs. O'Malley. Campus Ministry has a list of all students' necessary make-up days, and a Senior Project is not complete until these are made up. The following dates are available weekdays that coincide with student days off in the SLUH calendar.
- February 17
- February 20
- March 10
- March 13-17
- April 6
- April 7
- April 13
- April 14
- April 17
- May 1
All make-up days must be completed by May 2.
2016-17 SENIOR PROJECT CALENDAR
Monday, September 26
Initial informational meeting during Activity Period in the Chapel
Friday, September 30
DEADLINE: Senior has met with Faculty Advisor
Wednesday, October 5
DEADLINE: Senior has scheduled an appointment with a possible site
Monday, October 17
Quarter Exams: VISIT SITES
Tuesday, October 18
Quarter Exams: VISIT SITES
Wednesday, October 19
PSAT (No school for seniors): VISIT SITES
Thursday, October 20
Quarter Exams: VISIT SITES
Friday, October 21
No school: VISIT SITES
Monday, October 24
DEADLINE: New Site Proposals
Monday, October 31
DEADLINE: Pre-Approved Site Proposals
Tuesday, December 6
Informational Meeting during Activity Period in the Chapel
Thursday, December 8
Senior Project Missioning Ceremony
Tuesday, January 3
First Day of Senior Project
Monday, January 9
5:00 - 7:00PM: Reflection meeting at SLUH (mandatory)
Thursday, January 26
Final day at Senior Project site
Friday, January 27
Seniors return to SLUH classes
Monday, January 30
Senior Project Return Ceremony
Monday, January 30
DEADLINE: Senior Project Reflection Online Evaluation Due
Wednesday, February 22
DEADLINE: Final sign-off meeting with each senior's faculty advisor
SENIOR PROJECT SHOULD BE CHALLENGING. it will:
- Utilize and grow special talents that lie within students;
- Awaken in seniors the realization that service to others is a responsibility and a privilege of Christian discipleship;
- Increase student understanding of social structures which oppress others and methods of altering or abolishing them;
- Help seniors grow in maturity by working in unfamiliar and challenging situations;
- Help seniors develop a resistance to cultural pressures that tend to self-centeredness and lack of concern for others;
- Abolish ignorance and fear that may separate seniors from other people who are, in some way, different;
- Help seniors grow in love by touching the lives of others;
- Kindle in seniors a spirit of understanding, hope, compassion, and faith.
"Today our prime educational objective must be to form men-and-women-for-others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ - for the God-man who lived and died for all the world; men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce."
- FR. PEDRO ARRUPE, S.J.
Superior General of the Society of Jesus, 1965-81