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Olivia Silberman’s UNITY outline for the mural at Port Washington’s Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults (Photo from Devin Spizz)

A Look Into Schreiber Students’ Senior Experiences

By Devin Spizz

As Schreiber High School seniors enter their last semester, there is one last requirement they must meet to graduate: a “senior experience.” “Senior experiences” are meant to give students an opportunity to explore their interests before they enter the next phase of their lives, either through an internship, volunteer work, or a career project.

For most students, a senior experience is built into their schedule, selected from a wide range of specialized courses ranging from Theatre Arts to Engineering. However, for a small group of students who are constricted by their loaded schedule, an individual senior experience option is offered. These students must obtain approval from the school and will go on to work with a mentor and teacher advisor.

Tess Romero is one of these students. For her senior experience, she started an acting class specifically geared toward children with learning disabilities and other developmental differences. She shared that in exposing participants to the performance arts, she hopes to help them develop confidence and public speaking skills while moving at a pace that is comfortable for them.

When asked about what motivated her to start this project, Tess explained, “I was inspired by my little brother, who has struggled to find performance opportunities due to his ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and Tourette’s Syndrome. I wanted to create a space where he and other kids like him feel free to express themselves creatively without fear of judgment.” Moreover, Tess shared that it is gratifying to be able to spread her passion for acting and the arts with others.

Senior Eve Siff-Scherr is taking advantage of the senior experience program to get in touch with her community. For the next few months, Eve will be taking on a leadership role in her synagogue, helping with program planning, organizing, coming up with different ideas and activities, and connecting with different people. One way in which she will do this is through intergenerational gatherings with seniors involved in the synagogue, where she will help create dialogue and activities to facilitate relationships. In addition, she will be participating in the sandwich-making program in her synagogue, which provides an opportunity for members to help fight food insecurity.

Eve shared that this will be an extremely fulfilling experience for her, saying “I have been a member of the synagogue since I was born. I grew up a part of the congregation, became a Bat Mitzvah, and have continued to do programs throughout my high school years. I came up with this idea because I wanted to give back to my community that has been instrumental in helping me grow in my adulthood.”

In the future, Eve plans to attend Brown University, where she intends for religion to be part of her studies. As she prepares to go off to college, this project will grant her experience learning and being involved with her community through a Jewish lens.

A popular choice among many seniors is a project in the realm of visual art. Olivia Silberman, a current AP Studio Art student, will paint a mural in a residence hall at Port Washington’s Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults. Her outline depicts the word UNITY with each letter’s respective sign below, as well as a braille translation made of polymer. She plans to attend SUNY Oneonta with a minor in art history next year, hoping to use this opportunity to practice her art on a larger scale.

Senior Sadie Muller, a student who has been heavily involved in climate action throughout her high school career, is using this opportunity to bring this passion into her community. Over the summer, she interned with Legislator Delia DeReggi-Whitton to address food waste in Nassau County schools.

For her newest project, she will be working with Legislator DeReggi-Whitton and the environmental nonprofit Residents Forward to instate a composting pilot program at Salem Elementary School. Their plan is to transport the waste from Salem to the Science Museum of Long Island and the Thomas Dodge Homestead to be put in compost machines. Through this process, waste transforms into something that can be used to grow food for the citizens of Port Washington.

In college, Sadie will major in environmental science and policy. Outside of her studies, she plans to continue her scientific research regarding climate change and hopes to continue advocating for environmental legislation.

She shared that “interning with Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton has given me a great introduction to how the legislative process works, and through this project, I have been able to make a meaningful impact on environmental issues in my own community.”

By the time May rolls around, students will have participated in approximately 45 hours of valuable work experience. During this time, the independent senior experience program will hold a fair for students to present and explain what they have accomplished over the past few months.

According to Mr. Carlock, the teacher currently heading the independent senior experience program, “A senior experience is giving you the experience to decide what you want to do in your future and give you an opportunity to step into what you are interested in and decide where you want to go from there. I think it sort of gives you a head start in deciding what you want to do in college and in deciding your major.”

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