The Senior Project Getting students ready for the future through rigorous, experiential learning.

Each fall, at Souhegan High School in Amherst, NH, the senior class begins an impactful and rigorous journey that uniquely prepares them for the career, college or service experience awaiting them after high school.

They engage in a deep exploration of themselves and their chosen subject through a yearlong, personalized, experiential learning opportunity called Senior Project.

Reaching Higher NH teamed up with Boston area filmmaker, Julie Mallozzi, Souhegan High School film students and staff, to document the journey of three Souhegan seniors as they move through their projects over ten months.

We wanted to answer the following questions:

• Is this a student-centered approach to learning? Student-centered learning happens when educators and students work together, each having a valued voice in the conversation. They exchange ideas, offer feedback, leverage strengths, and work through challenges as a team, creating a highly personalized experience.

• Is the project equitable and inclusive? Are all students held to rigorous standards? Can it lead to the same engagement and depth of learning for all students?

• Will it prepare students for college, careers, or service after high school?

• What is the value of community involvement in the project?

• In addition to the topic students are exploring, what skills will they build?

Reaching Higher NH and Souhegan High staff interviewed many seniors in the fall of 2016 to learn more about their proposed projects. All the students were impressive. We chose Sean, Ryan, and Emily because of the diversity of their topics, planned approaches, high school experiences and individual learning styles to determine if the project was truly equitable and inclusive. You can learn about each student below and select the journey upon which you would like to embark.

Each journey focuses on different elements of the project. Souhegan's personalized, deep learning experience captures New Hampshire’s vision of public education.

This project shows it is possible to cultivate a culture of rigorous learning and growth in any school and for any student. When student voices are valued and mindsets are open, students have access to the futures they want!


Sean describes himself as a "massive Star Wars nerd." Learning that the Star Wars movie used a specially built animatronic for the film was one of the things that inspired his research topic. The other, was his time on Souhegan's robotics team. Sean is so passionate about robotics, he is going to college next year to study robotics and automation.

Sean's essential question is, "How has robotic technology impacted the film industry?" Through his research, he must work to answer this question. He will have the help of an outside expert and an in-school mentor, who he will be required to check in with each week. Sean will need to produce an applied piece -- which in this case, is an actual animatronic robot -- and present it to his peers, teachers, and community.

"I have met countless challenges throughout this project ...While they were all difficult and the cause of much stress, I am grateful for every single one. Each tested my limits and knowledge, and always required new learning in order to be met. Challenges are not bad, they are opportunities to learn more about yourself and the world around you. This entire project was a challenge, and it is because of this challenge, that I have learned more about robotic technology, my capacity to handle any difficult task if I put my mind to it and work hard."


Ryan is passionate about music and loves to write and record his own original songs. His project involved building a home production studio that could produce professional quality music. He worked with an outside expert from the music technology and production industry and spent countless hours learning what it takes to produce exceptional sound.

“Senior project has taught me valuable skills while allowing me to do stuff I never thought I would. Supporting students to pick exactly what they want to do allows for so much freedom and in my case, even lead to a possible career path. Because of my senior project, I’ve decided that I’m going to study music technology next year in college. I think senior project is a good program. It’s a building block to your future life.”


Emily has always been interested in female empowerment and the outdoors. For her senior project, she chose to explore how backpacking can empower women. As her research it evolved, her essential question did too, shifting the focus to gender inequality. Her applied piece took place in Arizona, where she and a group of eight students from Souhegan completed a week-long backpacking trip.

"The senior project process has developed my real-world presenting and researching skills...but it has also shown me why Souhegan really is a community of learners."

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