Seniors Take On Passion Projects

Julia Assa

Scarsdale’s Senior Options program is a cherished Senior tradition at the high school. Although the school year ends in mid-June, seniors finished classes a month earlier. For the remainder of the year, the seniors typically have the opportunity to pursue their passions through a job or internship program supervised by a high school faculty member. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the class of 2021 from enjoying the traditional senior options experience, as many local businesses and organizations are being more cautious about the spread of COVID. This has left Scarsdale High School in a predicament: should they proceed with the beloved tradition or pause the program until it’s safe to continue?

In an effort to balance safety and enrichment, the high school provided three different options: a traditional in-person internship, a virtual internship, or a passion project. This year, however, the passion project seems to be the most popular option, as students are excited by the prospect of exploring their personal interests on a deeper level.

Students who chose a passion project had to identify an interest or passion, create an educational curriculum around that topic, and achieve a goal. “I am so grateful that a passion project was an option this year. A virtual internship would be difficult and restrictive, and could potentially be unrewarding. It’s great that they gave us the opportunity to choose a topic we enjoy and do whatever we want with it,” says Trey Leuchter ’21. Seniors have been using this opportunity to explore passions such as sports, cooking, and creating content in the forms of podcasts and blogs. 

Although the future of a passion project option in a post-COVID era will ultimately be decided by the Scarsdale School Board, many seniors are adamant in their support of it. “I think that passion projects should be an option post-COVID. It allows students to discover their passions, create and execute a goal-oriented program, and be creative. Students are now able to practice their problem-solving skills, and this addition allows people to be individuals and have limitless opportunities to find what they’re interested in,” says Scott Goldban ’21. However, some teachers are less eager over the prospect of extending the option. “Passion projects are great but I think it is difficult for teachers to be sure that a student is working on their passion project for the correct number of hours. I think passion projects should be a possibility, but they need to go through a stringent approval process,” says SHS science teacher Michael Giordano. The future of passion projects is still undecided, but with the overwhelming good feedback the option has received, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen can only hope to have that opportunity when the time comes.

Scott Goldban ’21 and Cooper Cohen ’21 built a mini-golf course as their passion project. (Scott Goldban ’21).