Grade 12 is a year of engagement, autonomy, and transition. The curriculum demands independent student responsibility, maturity and intellectual sophistication. In selecting courses for the senior year, students have more freedom to shape their academic program to focus on their individual passions and talents. Many senior courses are taught as seminars, requiring significant student participation, research, writing and oral presentations. These capstone courses further enhance preparation for college, as does the more collegial relationships seniors develop with their teachers.
The college search and decision process is a significant piece of the senior year. Especially in the second semester, many seniors focus on the transition they will soon make, anticipating leaving their school and home communities and working to create closure with family, school, and friends.
The senior year includes two capstone experiences: the Senior Speech and the Senior Project.
Every member of the senior class writes and delivers a Senior Speech at an assembly attended by the entire Upper School community: students, teachers, and parents. In the month prior to the student's speech date (decided the previous spring at the Junior Retreat), every senior works closely with the Senior Speech advisor on the concept, content, and delivery of their speech. The Senior Speech is an important and much-anticipated rite of passage at SPA: a time to share personal insights, observations, and reflections in a supportive public forum.
At the end of the academic year seniors will complete their classes and then spend three weeks in May engaged in their Senior Project: an independent and immersive experience of the student's design. Students may choose to involve themselves in a creative capstone, an academic capstone, an internship, or a career exploration. The goal of senior project is to enhance the positive development of each student through community involvement, commitment to an experiential objective, thorough investigation of a topic outside of school curriculum, and exposure to possible career choices.