What would you do if you had three weeks to learn whatever you wanted?
For many students, there is no better way to learn than to immerse themselves in a totally new environment—and that's precisely what many Commonwealth twelfth graders do for their Senior Project. This three-week period of independent study allows seniors to venture beyond Boston, whether literally (sometimes abroad!) or in the recesses of their imagination. We had a chance to hear from several seniors this spring, as they reflected on projects that took them from archeological labs to snazzy marketing suits to a new kind of "Divine Comedy"...
After co-leading a design consulting business for years in Boston, Michael ’23 and James ’23 were determined to learn from the pros, devoting their Senior Project to interning at multinational design firm Landor & Fitch in New York City. They saw firsthand the massive difference in scale between the reach of their entrepreneurial operation and the thousands of clients served by Landor & Fitch, and how that affects each business's services. When not in the office, Michael and James explored the city, from Korean barbecue eateries to waterfront parks, filming their adventures, which they then expertly edited and shared with us.
Adara ’23, staying within the state of Massachusetts, nevertheless traveled to other eras as an archaeology intern with the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Shadowing graduate students at the Andrew Fiske Center for Archaeological Research, Adara processed artifacts from across New England, worked to identify bones using a typological collection, and separated the physical components of soil samples. With fieldwork experience already under her belt, Adara used her Senior Project to discern whether she might like to pursue archaeology further in the future; after weeks in the lab, her interest only grew.
A genre-bending film produced by Alex ’23, Elias ’23, and Jason ’23 brought us on a journey of a fantastical kind. While the group was toying with movie ideas at Commonwealth, someone noticed the school elevator, punnily calling it a "Hellevator." That became the name of their action-comedy production, where the trio must travel between the floors of the building—each one with its own genre pastiche—to save their classmates from malevolent forces. Alex, Elias, and Jason scouted for locations (driving to Winchendon for a chase scene featuring the Front Street Bridge), learned to video edit with Adobe Premiere, and took editorial comments from their mentor, English teacher Aaron Kerner. The film screened for the first time after assembly to a standing-room-only crowd of Commonwealth students.
Given the scope of their project (which easily overflowed our traditional Project Week for younger students), juniors Arjun ’24 and Mirai ’24 presented their work alongside seniors. They, too, remained local while continuing a long-term, long-distance collaboration to give young athletes more opportunities to play beyond their homes. Their app, SAFA, connects talented young footballers (soccer players, in America) with training resources to improve the sport's accessibility. Their project mentor, David Stuart, Director of Coaching at the New England Futbol Club, guided them as they mapped out a timeline for creating resources to send to SAFA's potential partners. As Arjun designed a promotional website, Mirai tested his Commonwealth computer science skills, taking charge of the back-end app development using the programming language Swift.
No matter where your ideas take you, projects at Commonwealth allow you to delve into what's new to you—and then to return with learnings to the rest of us.