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Academic Vision

Independent Senior Projects Pivot for COVID-19

Jordan Cady
This year’s Independent Senior Projects (ISP) were nothing short of innovative. Each project was designed and crafted with the most meaningful and creative ideas. Many seniors travelled outside of their comfort zones and embraced all the challenges that arose over the course of their ISPs. 
During a time of braving new waters for the whole world, our school and our courses needed to pivot and adapt quickly to accommodate for all the COVID-19 restrictions. This meant that ISP’s needed to be done completely online. When asked about this, head ISP Advisor Andy Myers explained, “The challenge of the pivot was really the rapid turnaround. Students had been planning their ISPs since November, and then the majority had to go back to the drawing board and develop a new idea within three weeks. These projects had to be vetted and refined prior to the start date.” For some seniors this was an easy transition, but for others it meant changing what they had originally planned on doing all in the matter of days. Myers also said, “The other challenge for some students was the lack of human contact as classes were dropped. However, I think Derryfield did a good job of mitigating this with more frequent check-ins.” 
There were some positives for the students as well. “One of the main benefits was the individual creativity that emerged from the ashes. Many students who were planning on shadowing professionals changed direction entirely, and developed projects which challenged their creativity. For example, Isaac Plotsker was planning on working in sports management, but ended up designing and marketing clothing. I think for some students the changing parameters meant that some students chose to base their ISP on what they wanted to do as opposed to what they felt they should do,” Myers exclaimed. The ISP also allowed for some of the seniors to be more involved with their friends than they originally would have been while being at home. Myers commented, “Several students developed team ISPs, which gave them an opportunity to work with their pals during their final days at Derryfield.” 
This ISP semester differed compared to all of the past ISP semesters in many ways. “The lack of a physical ISPalooza was a significant difference. I think that the website was a strong substitute though, and I plan to have a similar website next year (as more of an ongoing record). The requirements throughout the process were also different. Students were asked to complete daily as opposed to weekly blog entries,” Myers explained. The seniors’ blogs and websites added so much substance to their projects and allowed for the whole community to enjoy them as well. 
There were many ISPs that were beyond influential this year, and the subjects and projects that were chosen varied across the board. Each student found a way to create an ISP that inspired them during such confusing times. There may have been challenges, but a lot of great accomplishments came out of this ISP semester too. Myers remarked, “One thing that surprised me was the number of students who chose to stay in classes. All of the students were given the option of remaining in their classes, yet only two chose to. It seems as if the students as a whole really wanted to live the typical senior year at Derryfield, which now includes the ISP.” This ISP semester was a chance for students to be extra creative and build something remarkable. It gave the seniors more time with their peers and to have a modified normal end to their career at Derryfield. The seniors and Derryfield community should be very proud of their Independent Senior Projects this year. 

The Derryfield School

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