HS – Projects
Click below to see excerpts of Senior Project Presentations:
Projects are an integral part of Harmony High School, just as they are throughout the school. In many of our classes, teachers evaluate students based on projects that are tailored to individual interests. We encourage students who are passionate about particular areas of a subject to pursue them, for this is what builds life-long learning. Click here to see some examples of student projects that emerged from Harmony classes.
Occasionally, a project may grow in size until it can count for a independent credit of its own. On a regular basis, students collaborate with teachers to design independent projects and credits. At times, these projects are under the supervision of a mentor. Other times, they involve self-study through books, software, or the internet.
Junior Mastery Projects↑
During their Junior year, Harmony students have the opportunity to pursue a Mastery Project. This project is modeled on ‘Honors’ research in college. It is a yearlong process:
- Students select an academic area in which they wish to specialize: Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, Foreign Language, or Creative Arts
- The student must get a ‘green-light’ from a High School teacher of that subject area. This certifies that the student has already displayed a high degree of proficiency within that field.
- The student creates a project proposal and finds a mentor to aid their project. The proposal should be at least 100 hours worth of work and result in a level of knowledge/skill that both the mentor and the subject area teacher agree constitutes mastery. The mentor should be a professional from within the appropriate field.
- Four Way Meeting – By the end of the fall semester or the beginning of the spring, the student must meet with the mentor, the Junior adviser, and the subject area teacher. During this meeting, the Junior adviser explains the process and what is expected of each individual. It is the role of the mentor and subject area teacher to be sure that the project is both appropriate and challenging; it is the role of the Junior adviser to keep everything moving on track.
- At the end of their Junior year, the student present’s their project to a committee. This committee consists of their mentor, the subject area teacher, the Junior adviser, and two students of their choosing. After the presentation, the committee confers and decides whether the student has fulfilled their objectives. If not, then the student is told what he or she needs to do to complete the project. Once the project is completed to the satisfaction of the committee, Junior Mastery is conferred.
The Harmony School Senior Project is the capstone to their entire Harmony School experience. It is a rite of passage that allows students to explore their passions, to live independently, and to travel the world. During the spring semester of their Junior year, students begin to think about their projects. Over the summer and in the beginning of the fall semester they plan out the essential components:
- The Spark – Every great project begins with an idea, a dream, an ambition. For some students, this is abundantly clear. For others, this is a tremendous struggle.
- The Budget – It is not enough to want to do something; Harmony Students are taught to actually make it happen. Our students work part-time jobs, sell home-made crafts, write fund-raising letters, and much more in order to make their projects happen. Some projects cost virtually nothing; other students have worked to raise over $5000 for their trip.
- The Itinerary – For the sake of the students’ parents, as well as our own, we ask all the seniors to write up detailed itineraries. In particular when students are traveling out of town, or out of country, it is essential that there is a plan of where they will be staying and what they’ll be doing.
- The Mentor – Although the role of the mentor differs depending on the type of project, every student is expected to work with a mentor to gain the knowledge and skills that are needed to get the most out of their experience.
- The Essential Question – This question is what brings the project into focus for the student, what gives it greater depth, and what allows others to relate to it in a more meaningful way.
When the seniors have finished writing up these five components, as well as others, they present their proposal to the rest of the seniors. If the seniors think that the proposal is worthy of a Harmony School Senior Project, then Family Meeting votes on it. Once it has been approved by the Family Meeting, and once the senior has completed all credit obligations, he or she is ready to begin the project.
Senior Projects typically take over 360 hours to complete: full-time work, 30 hrs/week, for 12 weeks. During the spring semester of their senior year, seniors typically do not take regular classes at Harmony. Instead, they simply work full time on their projects. Some students travel out of state or out of the country, some as far afield as Europe, Asia, or Africa. Other students choose to stay in Bloomington to pursue their dreams.
At the end of the spring semester, the seniors return to Harmony to present their project to the whole High School. These presentations showcase their journey and experiences, and students present the evidence they collected during their project. Finally, after the presentation is over the Family Meeting votes whether the senior successfully completed their project as they presented it. We also vote whether the senior is a “responsible, contributing member of the community with a sense of humor.” This is the final step to graduate from the High School.