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Seniors make headway with their Grande Projects as their plans were finalized

As St. Louis U. High nears its Winter Break, the senior class continues its preparation for their personal Grande Projects. On Monday, there was a meeting for the seniors to discuss their projects, specifically relating to their topics and the point of view that they would have in their mediums.

“For students who had chosen their topic prior to the meeting, we talked to them about how to drill down and pinpoint what angle they want to take,” said campus minister Simone Anzalone. “They'll write up a single point of view and then consider the counterpoint of view in their argument.”

Over the coming weeks, the seniors will hear from different speakers about the themes of advocacy, charity, and making a change in their communities. This will continue into January with individual resources given to seniors on their topics that will help them guide their research.

“In the month of January, we will provide them with one really solid person that will speak to them directly about their topic and that has a lot of inside knowledge about said topic,” said Anzalone. “Next meeting we hope to have an advocacy one on one where we’re hoping to have some advocacy speakers from the community come in.”

As of now, the January schedule for the Grande Project has been finalized. This schedule underwent significant development from last year’s in the hope to allow for more time and flexibility for the senior class.

    “The seniors will have 10 days, with the addition of Martin Luther King Day, directly dedicated to their project,” said campus minister Brian Gilmore. “So there's also time, in the midst of this, for about a third of the class to go on a retreat. We didn't want that retreat time to interrupt any of the project programming time.”

   There have been concerns raised by the student body over the structure of the project and whether it is a fitting replacement for the senior project of old. While the project does give way for major forms of advocacy, it’s hard to replace the in person experience that the senior project was known for.

“I am worried about how the time in January will be spent because the project seems closer to a small paper or project you get for homework than a weeks-long focused effort, and I don't see how all the time we're given will be put to use effectively,” said senior Francis Alford. “But I understand the constraints that the pandemic has put on this kind of thing.”

The main focus of the Grande Project is advocacy, whether it be in communities here in St. Louis or throughout the country. The senior class has a variety of different experiences and talents when it comes to advocacy and so tapping into those experiences and passions is key to the whole process.

“I think that it’s very important for us as young leaders to have experience in advocacy and I for one am very excited to have the opportunity to work on something that I’m passionate about, which is restorative justice,” said senior Taggart Arens.

At the meeting on Monday, a group of seniors that attended the Ignatian Family Teach- In trip presented to their classmates on the topic of advocacy. Each member gave a short presentation discussing how to make a good and effective advocacy project. 

“Wseniors who went on the Ignatian Family Teach-In trip already have some advocacy training and will be presenting instead of Mr. Gilmore and I,” said Anzalone. “So we're hoping that they'll present a little bit about their experience of advocacy and then the students will then decide who their audiences are, whether it’s the SLUH community; or local, state, and national representatives.”

Overall, the Grande Project is moving along in a more structured and orderly way this year. By using feedback from last year’s seniors, Campus Ministry hopes that the Grande Project allows students to make real, substantial changes within their communities. 

 “Campus ministry has been working really hard to make sure we get the guidance we need for this and I think the theme of advocacy offers everyone a lot of options for topic choice and opportunities to tap into their passions,” said Alford.

“I think that the high degree of flexibility and the focus on research will allow students at SLUH to get out of the project what they put into it,” said Arens. “I think this will allow us to finally act upon our concerns with this world and take on the responsibility of citizenship in our city, state, country, and world.”






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