Senior projects prepare Lyman students to enter the 'real world'

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Lebanon - posted Tue., Jun. 14, 2011
Lyman Memorial High School senior Stacie Savage. Photo by Melanie Savage.
Lyman Memorial High School senior Stacie Savage. Photo by Melanie Savage.

Senior Stacie Savage provides a good example of the way that the Lyman Senior Project program is supposed to work.

Savage is a basketball player, participates in track, and is a member of the National Honor Society. She plans to study history at the University of Connecticut in the fall. It was only natural that she’d gravitate toward a subject with historic significance for her project.

“The only requirement is it has to be something that the student is interested in,” said Senior Project coordinator and Lyman social studies teacher Kevin Brodie.

Lyman was ahead of the game in requiring a senior project of its students. While the school instituted the idea back in 1992, the senior project won’t become a statewide requirement until 2014. “We wanted a valid standard by which to judge every senior,” said Brodie. “The project requires skills that they’re all going to need as they go out into the real world. Whether they’re going on to college, the military, or the work world, they can expect that they’ll need to be able to utilize these skills.”

For their senior project, all students are required to produce a research paper, and to complete some kind of public presentation, which must encompass a degree of technology. They are also required to produce a paper in which they reflect upon the process itself when they are finished. The reflection paper serves more than one purpose. It helps to polish the skills of the students, but it also helps to guide the school staff as they move forward to the next generation of kids. “Most of the changes that have been made to the program over the years,” said Brodie, “have come as a result of student suggestions.”

For her senior project, Savage set out to assist the Johnson Home, a residence for elderly women in Norwich run by a non-profit organization. The home, where Savage’s mother is an administrator, hoped to achieve historic status in order to qualify for specialized grants, which could be used to pay for needed building maintenance. “But that didn’t work out,” said Savage.

Savage learned that the building housing the Johnson Home boasted a long and interesting history. Built in 1766, the original tavern and inn burnt down in 1821. It was rebuilt in 1829. Some of the more interesting details that Savage unearthed in connection with the history of the building included a stopover by Gen. George Washington during his journey to meet up with Rochambeau during the American Revolution, and a connection to President Grover Cleveland. “There was a shack on the property at one point,” said Savage. “Grover Cleveland’s grandfather made spoons in the shack.”

But because of the 1821 fire, there was some dispute regarding the dates behind the original building. Savage found that this dispute precluded the building’s achieving historic status. “So I held a yard sale instead,” she said. The $400 she raised will help to pay for some of the repairs that the property needs.

For Savage, the experience provided a taste of the studies she’ll embark upon as she enters her college career.

As she looked forward to her graduation ceremony on June 14, Savage said that she felt her class was especially tight-knit and especially capable. “I think that, as a whole, we’re a very smart class, and very strong,” she said.

Brodie agreed. “I think they’re a very smart, very funny, very capable class,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they do when they leave here. I think they definitely have potential to do great things.”


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