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.
- Seniors complete their classes and take their final exams in April of the senior year, and then spend the month of May completing their Senior Project: a four-week independent work experience of the student's design, often consisting of an internship or hands-on career exploration. Senior Projects should enhance the positive development of the individual and be a structured learning experience. The Senior Project provides seniors with the opportunity to experience community involvement; to focus considerable time on a particular goal; to plan the use of time; to study a topic not in the school curriculum; and to investigate possible career choices.