Senior Projects during Quarantine


Elizabeth C., Contributing Writer


The Senior Project is integral to the BASIS Independent experience. What sets the BASIS network apart from other independent schools, apart from the particularly rigorous AP-centered curriculum, is the senior experience. In years past, students have explored the plethora of opportunities awaiting them by traveling or staying local to conduct their research. The possibilities awaiting you in your senior year are endless, or they were. COVID-19 has compelled the Class of 2020 to “restructure and rethink” how they approach their research. 

An interview with Denise Hewitt (‘20), explores the extent to which COVID-19 has influenced the Senior Project experience. Denise’s original Senior Project was centered in research into the “West Indian customs that had been a part of [her] upbringing and life” by particularly studying Carnival. Senior research presented Denise with the opportunity to “explore [Carribean cultures] beauty again” by studying the history, present, and future impacts of Carnival. Through interviews, Denise set out to understand exactly “what it takes to put on the festival” both “artistically and financially”. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has closed school, many of the on-site placements for seniors were closed. With projects “flipped on [their] head” Denise, and many seniors, have had to restructure their topics, abstracts, and presentations. The Senior Project requires a deliverable and presentation on Zoom, in addition to weekly blog posts. However, to accommodate disruptions in the students’ research, the deliverable is no longer required. Even so, as many students had already been nine weeks into research, a substantial amount has opted to continue with their projects. 

Students previously reliant on on-site resources have also had to change their approach to their topics. Instead of direct conversations, students are now primarily researching “email correspondence” and “occasional Zoom calls”. Online resources have also served to substitute for students whose research was dependent on placements. Seniors are investigating using “online videos, articles, academic papers, recorded interviews”. For Denise, whose project was dependent on Carnival proceeding and on traveling to the Caribbean, the project became “a complete bust”. Determined to persevere, seniors have adapted by pivoting topics or working to understand the impact that COVID-19 has on their areas of interest. However, this is not characteristic of all projects. Denise has shifted her focus to the economic and cultural impacts that the pandemic has on communities and local economies dependent on Carnival. Projects primarily dependent on remote resources have continued in as close to normal conditions as a pandemic will permit. 

Whatever the individual circumstance, this year’s senior class has had to demonstrate unprecedented ingenuity in the pursuit of their Senior Projects. Senior Project presentations will be held throughout next week via Zoom. Tune in to support the Class of 2020 and learn more about the variety of compelling topics they’ve been investigating!