In another academic year marked by calls for flexibility, our traditional assembly for senior projects was bound to change shape, too. This spring, we heard not just from seniors but from several students who took on semester- or month-long projects. Each presenter shared keen insights on how to make the leap—or adapt in the moment—to a new project.
For Hannah ’22 and Vivian ’22, two of the co-directors of this year's senior play, "the show must go on" was a guiding mantra. At the assembly, they outlined the process of adapting Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl—a retelling of the classic myth of Orpheus from the heroine's perspective. Although they completed the brunt of the work over a time-crunched April, their "project month" was nearly a year in the works, having discussed prospective shows over the summer with co-director Michael ’22 and casting throughout the fall.
Hannah and Vivian walked their listeners through the lesser-known details of what it took for them to stage the finished show, from procuring performance rights to blocking out sound cues in the script. Even in the face of unexpected changes in cast availability and a call for understudies, the team of seniors—along with actors and crew from other grades—were able to present Eurydice in early April to a full house, here in the school's Cafegymnatorium.
Hannah and Vivian weren't the only presenters who faced an artistic project that went beyond their initial expectations. Arjun ’24 was ready to take another step towards his long-term dream of coaching football (otherwise known as soccer) by interning with the New England Revolution for January's Project Week. At the last minute, however, the arrangement was canceled. Rather than postpone his project, Arjun decided to combine his dual passions of football and filmmaking to answer a question he'd had since moving to the United States: why was his favorite sport just not popular here?
To produce his documentary, Football In America: An Untold Story, Arjun interviewed guests like Dave Kasper, Head of Football Operations at D.C. United, and Michael Rendon, coach for Boston nonprofit Soccer Without Borders. He was even able to film at locations like the legendary Wembley Stadium in England during March break. What could have been a lost Project Week transformed into an advanced work of filmmaking, which has been acclaimed by Commonwealth students and alumni/ae on social media.
While neither of their senior projects rose from an abrupt change in plans, Daria ’22 and Caroline ’23 used the spontaneity of personal connection to explore their personal interests. Daria, who has been a horseback rider for nine years, traveled to South Carolina to work on a horse farm at the invitation of her riding instructor. The three-week period for Senior Projects allowed her to experience a level of travel for sport—heading from cold settings like Boston to grounds in the South to ride—typically available only to professional trainers. Between intensive practice with a thoroughbred horse named Aiken, daily farm maintenance, and animal care, Daria had no shortage of things to do. Though the work was physically exhausting, it had its advantages, Daria observed. Working hard and unplugging at the end of the day is something she now looks forward to in the world of work beyond high school and homework!
Caroline, meanwhile, secured a product design internship at the shoe company Sperry after conducting outreach to her father's LinkedIn contacts. A perfect convergence of her interests in industrial design and sustainability, the internship allowed Caroline to shadow a materials and textile designer, and she contributed to the design of a new season's shoes by experimenting with color swatches and sorting through product samples. One-on-one talks with designers and a sustainability meeting rounded out her hands-on week. The high point of Caroline's internship? Browsing the company's "shoe archives," which contain every imaginable variation of Sperry footwear designed over the past several years.
The presenters echoed one piece of wisdom that often shapes projects at Commonwealth: "cold emails" work. The chance to pursue their deepest interests often starts with one point of contact. And any changes or cancellations along the way don't have to end the show, because projects aren't about perfection—they're opportunities to press on and experiment wherever you are.