WHS students showcase semester projects

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Jan. 11, 2013
Julia Kelleher won the most creative award for her book on 'Nerdfighteria.' Photos by Colin Rajala.
Julia Kelleher won the most creative award for her book on 'Nerdfighteria.' Photos by Colin Rajala.

Imagine being a freshman in high school and stepping in front of faculty members to present a project: it’s nerve-racking, to say the least. This scenario did not intimidate many of Windsor High School’s seminar students, as some faculty members mistook the students for University of Connecticut interns due to the quality of their presentations and maturity while presenting,
“I and all of the people who view the products are amazed at what 14-year-old students can accomplish, given only one semester,” said Carla Brigandi, seminar teacher. “Most times the products rival those of practicing professionals.”

At an exhibition in the school, the seminar students showcased their Type III projects created under a program created by UConn’s Dr. Joe Renzulli called the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. Windsor is one of only a few schools in the country to use this unique program, which strives to enrich the educational experience based on interest, learning styles and forms of expression. The projects expose students to topics not included in essential curriculum, while increasing problem-solving and research skills and increasing awareness of personal strengths.

Within the Type III projects, Brigandi encouraged students to not only focus on their interests, but on their strengths, as well. Their projects differed from traditional projects in that students are required to use advanced resources and methodologies, as well as produce a tangible product that can be utilized or implemented by an authentic audience. Additionally, the students must meet with a mentor who is a professional in the student’s chosen field of study to develop their strengths while allowing them to think, feel and act like practicing professionals.

The hardest part for many of the students is realizing they can do whatever they want for the project. After they selected their interest, they had to come up with a palpable product to be used by consumers in the real world. Once they completed the hard part of determining what product they would create, the projects put kids on the fast track for the real world, allowing them to travel to cities for meetings, write their own articles or novels, teach a class or even compose their own song or dance.

“The students are incredibly proud of their finished products, and through this process they developed skills essential to success in life,” Brigandi said.

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