Passages: A Capstone Experience

Passages Chart of Options Passages Proposal Packet

What is Passages?

Passages is an umbrella heading under which a number of opportunities are made available for students to consider as part of their course of study during their senior year. The overall purpose is to give students a chance to engage in an in depth, hands-on study of a discipline or an area about which the students are highly interested or passionate. The emphasis for the students is to establish a self- challenging goal through the deliberate articulation of a project or course of study.

Passages is an opportunity for seniors to explore an area of interest outside the constructs of the traditional educational program, thereby enabling them to participate in a meaningful, non-traditional learning experience, in some cases, beyond Barlow’s walls. Students will work in the community or on campus during their senior year, exploring a field of interest prior to beginning their formal post-secondary plans.

The primary goal of Passages is to place students directly in charge of their learning and provide a venue for students to connect learning, life, and work as they begin the transition to their post-high school plans. The key components of this program are assuming ownership of choice and engaging in new learning experiences fostering a powerful voice in their own education. Students are encouraged to take on ambitious projects, in which they become authors or designers constructing a bridge between their accumulated skills and knowledge learned in the classroom and the world beyond Joel Barlow High School.

This packet spells out the common expectations and stages of the Passages program, in particular, the Passages: A Capstone Experience path. Information regarding the basis for assessment of the completed process and the finished product or presentation is also included. If there are any questions or concerns, please contact the coordinators of Passages: Donna Albano ([email protected]), Nancy Brix ([email protected]), Tim Huminski ([email protected]), Chris Poulos ([email protected]) or Christina Rao ([email protected]).

What is Passages: A Capstone Experience

Passages: A Capstone Experience is an opportunity for students to engage in an independent learning experience related to an interest. The course is formally scheduled during the spring semester of the senior year, however students begin the capstone process upon registering for the class in the spring of the junior year. Students plan their projects during the summer and their completed project proposals are due the Friday after Labor Day at the start of the school year. In preparation for the formal implementation of their projects, students are expected to attend Passages Academies and maintain a presence on the Passages social network during the first semester of the senior year.

Project topics and format may vary. Students may select from a list of options including but not limited to: teaching assistant, internship, field study, independent study, community service, Capstone, or exchange programs with other high schools or nearby colleges. The primary goal of Passages: A Capstone Experience is to place students directly in charge of their learning by making possible direct or  hands-on experiences. A secondary goal is to provide a venue for students to connect learning, life, and work as they begin the transition to their post-high school plans.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible, students must receive an endorsement from a school counselor that they are on track to graduate. The endorsement will indicate the appropriate graduation credits, including the results of state tests, and the Junior Writing Portfolio, when these become available. Note: Students may not do their project in a place where they are currently employed or have done volunteer work if that project will not lead to expanded development. Further, no relative may be in direct line of responsibility for the students for the area or department where they do their project. The supervisor cannot be a relative

Application Process and Expectations

Passages has common components regardless of the specific, individual proposal: Application, Letter of Intent, In-School Advisor, Supervisor Information form (if doing an internship out of school), physical project, a weekly journal/reflection, participation on the Passages social network, a portfolio of work accomplished, and a public presentation at the end of the semester. These components will be accomplished through three stages.

Stage I: Planning and Application. Students will:

  • Complete a comprehensive application, including all signatures

  • Compose and submit a letter of intent

  • Contact a teacher or staff member to be an advisor

  • Consult with a supervisor in the field if doing an internship and complete a supervisor information form

  • If doing an internship, review with in-school advisor site information (dress codes, parking, other details relevant to the work site), job description and work hours

Stage II: Expectations. Students will:
  • Meet with in-school advisor on a weekly basis

  • Exercise time management through a weekly work schedule

  • Carry five academic courses in addition to the capstone project

  • Maintain a weekly log of hours of the work experience and complete a weekly reflection journal. Journal entries are to be checked with in-school advisor weekly.

  • Fulfill the hours per day/per week work obligation and maintain an inventory of discoveries to be included in final presentation

  • Communicate ideas or concerns regarding the workload, the quantity and quality of the work with off site supervisor (if applicable). If assistance is needed, contact the in school advisor or the Senior Passages coordinators.

  • Attend scheduled group meetings for all students in Passages

  • Actively participate on Passages social network

Stage III: Presentation. Students will:

  • Identify an end-product for evaluation

  • Prepare and complete an approved presentation

  • Submit a formal evaluation summary of the Senior Passage, including an assessment of positive and negative learnings – the pros and cons of the experience. The formal evaluation is to be word-processed.

Grading Criteria. Students will be graded according to:

• Letter of Intent
• Required group meetings
• Appropriate number of hours/sessions logged
• A weekly journal
• Participation on social network
• Evaluative summary of the senior experience
• Final product/presentation
• Evaluations by out-of-school supervisor (if applicable) and in-school advisor


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