In the spring of 2006, a committee of administrators, teachers, parents and students at Kennedy High School developed a senior program to offer alternative learning opportunities to graduating students towards the end of their senior year. This program, known as the “Senior Experience Program,” is currently entering its 10th year.
Participants have three weeks of release time during the last three weeks of the school year. This period of time is dedicated to their chosen project or internship; students are expected to spend time at their placement equal to the time that they spend at school. This year, more than 215 seniors are participating in the program at Kennedy High School. Students are in a variety of fields that range from engineering to communications, and medicine to graphic design, and are working in offices from Hauppauge to New York City.
“The success of the program relies on the commitment of the students, the monitoring of each student by a faculty mentor, and the generous support of our community sponsors who are willing to work with our students and give them an enriching and educational experience,” said Principal Lorraine Poppe. “From their experiences, many of our students begin to change or develop future plans. Others merely enjoy sharing their talents or commitment to service with others. The program has truly become part of the Kennedy culture, and students look forward to being part of Senior Experience.”
A few of the students are interning at law firms on Long Island and in New York City.
“I've learned how the judicial system functions,” said student Ashley Jarzabek. “I've also learned many terms that attorneys use; such as a Stipulation of Settlement and a Judgment of Divorce. Before going into this, I didn’t know these terms existed. Something I've done well was take notes of the court cases and follow along with them since they are confusing sometimes…I am learning so much and the idea of law school is now exciting to me.”
Students like Alex Dobosh are also focusing on the legal field; however, Alex is interning in a courthouse rather than a law office. He is at the New York State Supreme Court in New York City.
“I have learned a lot about the court process…sitting on trials is different,” Dobosh said. “It’s pretty crazy how the legal world works.”
Dobosh also noted how he has been able to apply some of the skills he learned in Mock Trial to this experience.
Student Elizabeth Lau said she is enjoying her experience working at Bellmore-Merrick Pediatrics. “At the pediatric office, I work with other staff, patients and parents. Instead of learning at a desk, I'm learning from hands-on experience,” she said. “I definitely prefer working at the office more. This is definitely more interesting and engaging, and I really feel like I learn a lot more. I also love being able to interact with people directly.”
All students in the program write a daily journal entry, which is reviewed by the student’s mentor. In addition, during the week following Senior Experience, participants present an overview of their project to classmates, teacher, parents, and administrators.