Waive PTHS Class of 2021's Senior Project Requirement

Waive PTHS Class of 2021's Senior Project Requirement

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Sorina Johnston started this petition to PTHS Seniors and

“Although your project may seem overwhelming at times, if you meet deadlines, give it your best effort and stay true to the process, you will graduate from PTHS knowing that you have accomplished something important.” - Carrie Ehrhardt, “Senior Project Culminating Guidelines”.

What’s important about an annotated bibliography? How will it contribute to the wellness of seniors and the community?

It won’t. 

Senior projects should be waived for the class of 2021 because students are unable to create meaningful in-person projects that will significantly benefit our community. 

Seniors this year have received mixed messages from teachers and administration. Overall, teachers have told students that they shouldn't begin work on their senior projects, as they’re likely to be waived. It was recently announced that annotated bibliographies will be due January 5th, but following the advice of teachers thus far, most students don't yet have a plausible project or topic to write their bibliography about. 

Seniors are working hard to manage schoolwork and college applications, and they shouldn’t be asked to complete bibliographies over winter break. The January 5th deadline coincides with regular decision due dates for college applications. Having this sprung on seniors at the last minute, right before break, and setting the deadline right after break gives seniors no choice but to spend their break completing this bibliography. This year of all years, seniors need to spend their winter breaks decompressing from a challenging semester of online-learning and working on college applications. 

It’s unrealistic to expect seniors to “explore a career” or “create a meaningful community service task” in COVID-19 times (Senior Culminating Project Guidelines). Past senior projects relied on in-person elements. Seniors this year face the challenge of creating projects that simultaneously respect social distancing and will have a significant impact on the community. Students are already struggling with virtual learning, spending more time on computers than is both mentally and physically healthy. Requesting that seniors create meaningful virtual projects significantly adds to this strain without realistically contributing much to the community.

Community service is wonderful, but in these trying times, students should be asked to prioritize themselves. The mental health of students is suffering. It’s evident in the four suicide attempts by Jefferson County teenagers that occurred in October (Jefferson County Washington). It’s evident to parents who see their students appearing anxious or depressed because of isolation and too many hours spent on screens. It’s evident to seniors who’ve been forced to come to terms with a zoom-senior year. Students are handling a new world of stress and isolation as a result of the pandemic. Students are undergoing massive changes to the way they learn and socialize. It’s a challenging time for all students, parents, and teachers. Seniors request that PTHS accommodates their needs and waives senior projects as a graduation requirement. It would be a greatly appreciated step to ease some of mental hardships seniors are enduring. 

If students have ideas for community service or career exploration, they can carry them out on their own- it doesn’t need to be a graduation requirement. 

If PTHS wants to see that seniors are contributing to the community, consider the leadership the class of 2021 has demonstrated over the past four years. The class of 2021 has made great contributions to the culture at PTHS. Seniors created meaningful community connections prior to COVID through high levels of club engagement and school/town leadership. Adding more stress to an unprecedented senior experience is unnecessary. This year presents enough challenges as is.  

In summary, the class of 2021 requests that all components of the senior project graduation requirement be waived because:

1. It’s unrealistic to create meaningful projects that follow social distancing and health protocols. 

2. Students have to work harder during the pandemic to accommodate for safety. This significantly adds to the already high workloads and stress levels of seniors getting their education from home. Requiring seniors to imagine projects in the same capacity as a normal year is contributing to a decline in mental health among the senior class.  

3. Seniors can best serve the community by following social distancing guidelines, completing their senior year of high school from home, and forgoing risks to the community posed by orchestrating collaborative projects. 

Sign this petition to show your support for waiving Senior Project Requirements. 



Jefferson County Washington. (n.d.). Retrieved December 08, 2020, from https://www.facebook.com/236159643133225/posts/3456965334385957/?extid=0

Senior Project Culminating Guidelines. https://highschool.ptschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_155072/File/General%20Information/Senior_Project/Senior%20culminating%20project%202021%20all.pdf




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