Between May 30 and June 2, graduating Grade 12 students at Unity Christian High School in Barrie made the final presentations of their senior projects, each representing at least 100 hours of work throughout the year.
These projects — consisting of an extensive essay, a physical project, a portfolio detailing the entire process, and a 20-minute presentation before peers, parents and community members — represent the culmination of their entire school career and encompass all they have learned, says principal Peter Bulthuis.
He caught on to the concept after hearing about U.S. schools creating a similar program, so when Unity opened its doors seven years ago, he knew the projects would be a good fit for his students.
“I’ve heard back from kids who’ve done it in the past and are at university and they’re grateful they’ve done it because they now know they can,” says Bulthuis. “At university, this type of thing comes up regularly and they’ve done it the first time in a relatively safe environment in front of friends and family.
“They know now that they can do it and so that fear has been somewhat dissipated. It also gives them a chance to work through a lot of the skills we have intentionally taught them over the years — all the stuff we have been doing is capped in the senior projects.”
He says the projects, which range in subject matter, must also encompass an examination of how the teachings of Christ apply.
One young lady chose to tackle the fundamental question of what beauty is in her 20 page essay. “Now that’s a tough one,” says Bulthuis, recalling how touched he was to read her thoughts on a question that troubles so many people in society today.
He said her Christian perspective was quite profound.
“She used a lovely phrase,” says Bulthuis. “She said, ‘sin has shattered the mirror that was to reflect the beauty of God,’ or something to that effect, and I had to write it down!”
He says watching the presentations affirm the fact that the students are no longer kids, and are prepared for university and the challenges of life itself.
The joy and gratitude this inspires, he says, is simply “tremendous.”